In this week’s update:
It was a busy week in the Legislature for WSNA. Both legislative budgets were released on Monday. We were excited to see funding for our priorities, including school nurse funding, sexual assault nurse examiner training and workforce development.
The Legislature also reached the second policy cutoff of the year on Thursday. All policy bills that did not get a hearing in the opposite chamber policy committee are now considered dead. The one exclusion is bills that are considered necessary to implement the budget.
Additionally, the safe staffing bill, HB 1868, was heard in the Senate Labor, Commerce & Tribal Affairs Committee on Monday. The bill was voted out later in the week and is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Ways & Means Committee.
On Sunday, Feb. 21, HB 1868 was heard in the Senate Labor, Commerce & Tribal Affairs Committee. Over a dozen people testified on the bill, including WSNA members Kathryn Geren and Vicki Mikhailenko. You can watch their testimony by clicking on the image below:
On Thursday, the committee took executive action on the bill. With a 5-4 vote, the bill was moved out of committee. The bill is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Ways & Means Committee Saturday morning.
TAKE ACTION: HB 1868 — Safe Staffing Standards — is scheduled for a hearing Saturday, Feb. 26, in the Senate Ways & Means Committee. 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. NOTE: When signing-in, please leave the “organization” blank; do not put the name of your employer or WSNA in this box. This is so that your employer and WSNA can enter their official organizational positions on the record without confusion.
Instructions for signing-in:
SIGN IN SUPPORT: You can begin doing this right away up until one hour before start of the hearing Saturday, Feb. 26 (sign-in will close at 8 a.m. on Saturday).
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)
TAKE ACTION: We anticipate an uphill battle in the Senate and are encouraging everyone to contact their senators to urge them to support HB 1868. Now is the time when they need to hear from you.
Workforce development bills
The budget included significant funding for nursing school programs. Both budgets included $15.2 million in funding for simulation labs and $6 million for nurse preceptor grants. Both budgets also included $8 million for health workforce grants. Both budgets included funding to establish a Master of Science program at Western Washington University. The Senate budget included $6.2 million for Eastern Washington University to establish a Bachelor of Science in nursing program.
HB 1659 passed out of the Senate Higher Education & Workforce Development Committee on Thursday, Feb. 24. This bill expands the Washington College Grant program by expanding eligibility standards and including additional stipends for wrap around services such as childcare and tutoring. The bill is scheduled for a hearing on Saturday, Feb. 26, in the Senate Ways & Means Committee. Funding for this bill is included in the House budget.
HB 2007, which establishes a nurse educator loan repayment program, also passed the Senate Higher Education & Workforce Development Committee on Thursday, Feb. 24. The bill will be heard on Saturday, Feb. 26, in Senate Ways & Means Committee. The House budget also includes funding for this bill.
Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) training
The House budget appropriated $122,000 for sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE) trainings at Washington State University and an additional $122,000 for training at the University of Washington. The House budget also included $58,000 for the Office of the Attorney General to establish a SANE best practices workgroup.
HB 1622 was passed by the Senate Higher Education & Workforce Development Committee on Thursday, Feb. 24. It would establish a SANE online and clinical training program as well as a regional SANE leader pilot program at the WSU College of Nursing. This program is funded in the House budget.
Although HB 1621, which sought establish a stipend program for nurses to be trained to be a SANE, is not moving as a separate vehicle, the House Appropriations Committee accepted an amendment on Wednesday, Feb. 23, that includes $1,088,000 in its budget to support this stipend program.
School nurse funding
HB 1664, which seeks to adjust the prototypical school funding model to provide increased and dedicated funding for school nurses, social workers, counselors and psychologists, was heard in the Senate Ways & Means Committee on Monday, Feb. 22. WSNA testified in support. WSNA joined with associations representing other school-based professionals to request the bill be moved out of committee and onto the Senate Floor. Both the Senate and House budgets contain funding for this policy. The Senate budget funds school nurses at $174 million, and the House funds HB 1664 with a phase in process of $108 million.
On Wednesday, Feb. 23, HB 1837 was heard in the Senate Labor, Commerce & Tribal Affairs Committee. WSNA signed on in support of the bill and is working with the Washington State Labor Council to move this bill over the finish line. The bill was moved out of committee on Thursday, Feb 24, on a party line vote.
Please look for regular email updates on legislative action as the legislative session continues – we look forward to your participation in the process!