In this week’s update:
This was the tenth week of the 2021 legislative session. Committee hearings continued this week ahead of the March 26 cutoff when policy bills must be voted out of committee in the opposite chamber.
This week the Washington State Revenue and Economic Forecast Council released the latest revenue forecast, impacting the amount of funding the legislature will have to appropriate in the 2021-23 operating budget. There is an increase of $1.9 billion for the 2021-23 biennium.
Additionally, Washington state will receive $7 billion in federal COVID relief funding through the American Rescue Plan – with $2 billion of that funding going directly to cities and counties.
Bills Pass Out of Committee
This week, several WSNA priority bills passed out of policy committees:
SB 5190: Health Care Worker Presumptive Eligibility
SB 5190 provides health care workers with presumptive eligibility for workers compensation and unemployment benefits during a declared state or federal health emergency. This bill passed out of the House Labor Committee today.
HB 1097: Anti-Retaliation
HB 1097 passed out of the Senate Labor Committee on Wednesday, March 17. This bill strengthens worker protections from employer retaliation within the Department of Labor & Industries.
HB 1124: Nurse Delegation
HB 1124 passed out of the Senate Health Care Committee last Friday. This bill allows a registered nurse to delegate glucose monitoring and testing to a registered or certified nursing assistant or a certified home care aide.
WSNA Testifies on Key Bills
HB 1272: Health System Transparency
This morning, HB 1272 had a hearing in the Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee. Justin Gill testified in support of the bill for WSNA. HB 1272 provides more health system transparency by requiring hospitals to report more financial details to the state. A more accurate picture of hospital finances will allow legislators to make more informed policy decisions, especially with our state’s health care spending.
HB 1076: Worker Protection Act
On Monday, HB 1076 had a hearing in the Senate Labor, Commerce & Tribal Affairs Committee. This bill establishes a new pathway in law known as qui tam for associations and unions to bring legal claims on behalf of their members for workplace violations having to do with safety and health, wage and hour violations, health care mandatory overtime and more. Julia Barcott testified in support for WSNA.
HB 1148: Civil Penalty Structure within the Department of Health
Justin Gill also testified in support of HB 1148 today in the Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee. This bill establishes civil fines, conditions on the license, and stop placements as penalties for hospitals that fail or refuse to comply with state licensing requirements. This structure would be similar to the civil penalty structure that exists within the Department of Labor and Industries and would provide a stronger enforcement mechanism for DOH.
Legislator Virtual Town Hall Meetings
With the legislature meeting remotely, this year’s Legislator Town Hall meetings will also be held remotely. The House Democrats have released their list of Virtual Town Hall meetings and the Senate Democrats now have their Virtual Town Hall meetings available on a calendar. Many of these are coming up quickly – and they are listed by date rather than district.We have not yet seen the House Republicans or Senate Republicans full list of Virtual Town Hall meetings; however, many are holding them. If you live in a legislative district with Republican legislators, you can sign up for their individual legislative electronic newsletters to receive information like this. You can also sign up for the House Republican Caucus newsletter here or the Senate Republican Caucus newsletter here.
Please look for regular email updates on legislative action as the legislative session gets underway – we look forward to your participation in the process!