In this week’s update:
On Monday, the Legislature reached fiscal cut off for the house of origin. The rest of the week was spent on the Legislature caucusing and voting bills off the House and Senate floors. WSNA also spent many hours negotiating with the Washington State Hospital Association on staffing bill language. We are optimistic that the bill will be voted on the House floor before floor cut off on Tuesday evening.
On Saturday, HB 1868 had a hearing in the House Appropriations Committee. Two people from the WA Safe + Healthy coalition testified in support of the bill. Both testifiers spoke to the financial impact of the bill. Testimony included a strong rebut to the University of Washington’s bloated fiscal note which we believe is greatly inflated.
On Monday, the bill was voted out of the House Appropriations Committee on a predominantly party line vote. On Wednesday, the bill was pulled from the House Rules Committee and put on second reading. We anticipate the House to caucus on the bill sometime Saturday, with the vote happening between Saturday night and Monday night.
TAKE ACTION: Now is the time to let your House representative know that you support safe staffing. Send them an email letting the know what safe staffing means to you.
Workforce development bills
The two workforce development bills sponsored by Representative Vandana Slatter (D-Bellevue) are still in play. HB 2007, which would establish the Nurse Educator Loan Repayment Program, was pulled from the House Rules Committee and is now on the floor waiting for a vote. HB 1659 is in the House Rules Committee and will hopefully be pulled to the floor before the Tuesday cutoff. That bill aims to make higher education more affordable by creating bridge grants that will help cover costs associated with going to school, including expenses like tutoring and childcare.
Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) training
HB 1621 is on the House floor awaiting consideration. HB 1621 requires the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) to establish a stipend program for nurses to be trained to be a SANE and establish a grant program to increase access to SANEs. HB 1622 was referred to the Senate Higher Education & Workforce Development Committee. It has not yet been scheduled for a public hearing. This bill would establish a SANE online and clinical training program as well as a regional SANE leader pilot program at the Washington State University College of Nursing.
School nurse funding
On Thursday, the House of Representatives approved 2SHB 1664 on a 73 –23 vote. This bill seeks to adjust the prototypical school funding model to provide increased and dedicated funding for school nurses, social workers, counselors and psychologists.
While the Senate companion bill, 2SSB 5595, was passed out of the Senate Ways & Means Committee on Monday, Feb. 7, we expect 2SHB 1664 to be the vehicle going forward.
Funding of this bill is also part of budget discussions.
Bills that didn’t make it past fiscal cutoff
SB 5704, which create payment parity for ARNPs, did not get a hearing in the Senate Ways & Means Committee — and as a result did not make it past fiscal cutoff on Monday and is no longer viable.
SB 5911, which would provide hazard pay to health care workers, didn’t make it past fiscal cutoff. The bill could come back as a budget proviso during budget talks.
Please look for regular email updates on legislative action as the legislative session gets underway – we look forward to your participation in the process!