News

WSNA in Olympia: 2021 Legislative Session Week 11


In this week’s update:

  • Week 11 Recap
  • Senate & House Budgets Released
  • Bills Pass Out of Committee
  • WSNA Members Meet with Congressman Newhouse

Week 11

Today marks the March 26 cutoff when policy bills must be voted out of committee in the opposite chamber. Most WSNA priority bills are still alive and continue to move through the process. The next cutoff is April 2, when all bills must be voted out of fiscal committees.

All floor sessions, including debate and votes on bills, are being aired on TVW. WSNA’s 2021 Legisla­tive Prior­i­ties are avail­able online.


Senate & House Budgets Released

After last week’s revenue forecast, which showed an increase of $1.9 billion for the 2021 – 23 biennium, on Thursday this week the Senate released its $59.2 billion 2021 – 23 operating budget. The House released its budget this after­noon. Both budgets account for the $7.1 billion in federal COVID relief funding through the American Rescue Plan.

We were pleased to see signif­i­cant public health funding in both budgets, and to see that the House included $11 million for the School Nurse Corps.

Senate budget highlights include:

  • $150 million for Founda­tional Public Health Services
  • $1.7 million to imple­ment SB 5190 (presump­tive eligi­bility for health care workers during a health emergency)
  • $1.1 million to imple­ment SB 5115 (adds employer require­ments during a health emergency)
  • $642,000 for Dept. of Labor & Indus­tries rulemaking on an infec­tious disease standard to protect workers from workplace exposure during an outbreak
  • $17.6 million to increase behav­ioral health service rates for Medicaid clients

Unfor­tu­nately, the Senate budget included no new funding for school nurses – something both WSNA and SNOW will continue advocating for in the final budget.

  • House budget highlights include:
  • $100 million for Founda­tional Public Health Services
  • $11 million for the School Nurse Corps
  • $642,000 for Dept. of Labor & Indus­tries rulemaking on an infec­tious disease standard to protect workers from workplace exposure during an outbreak
  • $15 million to increase behav­ioral health service rates for Medicaid clients


Bills Pass Out of Committee

This week, several WSNA priority bills passed out of policy committees:

HB 1148: DOH Civil Penalties

Rep. Cody’s bill, HB 1148, to create a civil penalty struc­ture within the Depart­ment of Health (which would apply to hospital viola­tions) passed out of the Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee on Wednesday this week. It is now in Rules waiting to be pulled to the Senate floor.

HB 1272: Health System Transparency

HB 1272 passed out of the Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee this morning. An amend­ment was adopted that pushes back some of the start dates for the bill’s data collec­tion require­ments; this amend­ment was requested by the Depart­ment of Health and WSNA supported this change. This bill has been referred to the Ways & Means Committee.

HB 1152: Public Health System Legislation

HB 1152, which provides updates and new require­ments for our state’s public health system, passed out of the Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee this morning. It was amended in Committee and the amend­ment included a defined seat for WSNA on the statewide Public Health Advisory Board created in the bill. This bill has changed greatly since it was first intro­duced on January 11. The bill that passed out of Committee today does the following:

  • Creates the statewide Public Health Advisory Board, with WSNA named as a member
  • Codifies the Founda­tional Public Health Steering Committee
  • Creates four Regional Public Health Offices (two on the westside of the state and two on the eastside), each with its own Regional Health Officer (having the same duties as a Local Health Officer) – the job of these Regional Offices is to coordi­nate shared services for the region
  • Leaves local health juris­dic­tions intact as they are today
  • Adds health profes­sion and commu­nity member positions to local Boards of Health, but grants an excep­tion for local Boards of Health that had a local public health advisory committee or board by January 1, 2021 (these local Board of Health may retain their compo­si­tion of elected officials only)

WSNA Legisla­tive & Health Policy Council Chair Justin Gill testi­fied in support of HB 1152 in the public hearing held earlier this week in the Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee – he thanked Senator Robinson for adding WSNA to the Public Health Advisory Board.


210319 gill justin 1272

WSNA Members Meet with Congressman Newhouse

On Thursday, WSNA members from the 4th congres­sional district met with Congressman Dan Newhouse (R) to discuss their experi­ences during the pandemic and with the COVID-19 vaccine. Partic­i­pating nurses also shared their experi­ences with workplace violence and asked for service recog­ni­tion for the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps.

2021 3 25 Photo of Rep Newhouse Meeting

Please look for regular email updates on legisla­tive action as the legisla­tive session continues – we look forward to your partic­i­pa­tion in the process!