In this week’s update:
This week the House Labor Committee took executive action on the safe staffing bill, HB 1868. The Senate Labor Committee heard testimony from two WSNA nurses on a bill that would provide COVID-19 hazard pay to hospital-based health care workers. The first cutoff of session is next week on Feb. 3. All bills that are not necessary to implement the budget must be moved out of their policy committee of origin or they will no longer be viable for this session.
This week the House Labor & Workplace Standards Committee took executive action on the Safe Staffing Bill (HB 1868). The bill passed out of committee on party line. The next step for the house bill is a hearing in Appropriations.
The Senate companion bill, SB 5751, has a hearing on Monday, Jan. 31 at 9:30 a.m. in the Senate Labor, Commerce & Tribal Affairs Committee. We expect robust testimony on both sides of the issue and encourage everyone to take action to sign in and support the bill. The sign ins on HB 1868 made a huge difference for moving the House bill out of the policy committee.
Committee hearings don’t normally get this much attention, and legislators noticed. Marcus Riccelli (D-Spokane), the House sponsor of HB 1868, told us:
“Committee sign ins are a quick and easy way that lawmakers can gauge support for and opposition to a certain policy. Seeing over 1,600 people sign in to support safe staffing during the House hearing from all over the state sent a clear message that the time for this bill is now.”
TAKE ACTION: Due to the remote legislative session this year, individuals can sign-in remotely to support this bill. By signing in, you are putting your support for the bill on the legislative record (not testifying). The information you provide will be made available to legislative committee members and staff of the committee and will be included in the legislative record and meeting archival purposes.
Instructions for signing-in:
SIGN IN SUPPORT: You can begin doing this right away up until one hour before start of the hearing Monday, Jan. 31 (sign-in will close at 8:30am on Monday).
1. Choose position: Pro
2. Fill out the remaining identifying information, leaving “organization” blank (do not put the name of your employer or WSNA here)
COVID-19 hazard pay for health care workers
On Thursday the Senate Labor Commerce & Tribal Affairs Committee heard SB 5911, sponsored by Annette Cleveland (D- Vancouver). The bill would provide health care workers with hazard pay. The current bill covers workers in the ICU, ER and urgent care. However, testifiers asked the legislature to expand the bill to all health care workers working during the pandemic.
Erin Allison, RN and WSNA Legislative and Health Policy Council chair, shared with the committee the challenges of being a nurse during the pandemic. WSNA nurse organizer, Ryan Rosenkranz, also testified about her experience working as a nurse during the pandemic and the impact it has had on her, her coworkers and the nurses she advocates for.
Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) training
On Wednesday, Jan. 26, the House passed HB 1622 on a 97-0 vote, with one legislator excused. HB 1622 requires Washington State University College of Nursing to establish a SANE online and clinical training program along with a regional SANE leader pilot program. The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.
Nurse Educator Loan Repayment Program
On Monday, Jan. 24, the House College and Workforce Development Committee heard HB 2007, which would establish the Nurse Educator Loan Repayment Program. WSNA Director of Nursing Practice Gloria Brigham testified to the need for nurse educators and how this approach would increase interest in the nurse educator path while also creating more slots to train future nurses. The committee approved HB 2007 on Thursday, Jan. 27. You can watch the hearing here.
School nurse funding
The two bills that would increase allocations for school nurses, social workers, counselors, and social workers within the prototypical school funding model will be heard in their respective fiscal committees early next week.
On Monday, Jan. 31, the Senate Ways and Means Committee will hear SSB 5595 and the House Appropriations Committee will hear SHB 1664. Before SHB 1664 passed out of the House Education Committee, it was amended to require that each school site much have at least one school nurse and one school counselor. Given the cost this would add to the bill and the operational questions for small schools, we expect this provision to be removed in the House Appropriations Committee.
Please look for regular email updates on legislative action as the legislative session gets underway – we look forward to your participation in the process!