WSNA’s update from Olympia and the 2023 legislative session

Read the latest about the Safe Staffing Standards bill, presumptive eligibility for nurses with PTSD, ARNP reimbursement parity and the Nurse Licensure Compact.

Welcome to WSNA's update from Olympia and the 2023 legislative session.

In this week’s update you'll find a recap on week 7 including:

1. Safe Staffing narrowly passes Ways & Means: Take Action - we need your help NOW!

2. Presumptive Eligibility for Nurses with PTSD

3. ARNP Reimbursement Parity

4. Nurse Licensure Compact

1. Safe Staffing narrowly passes Ways & Means - TAKE ACTION NOW!

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A letter from your WA Safe + Healthy Coalition regarding Safe Staffing bill update -SB 5236

Dear SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, WSNA, and UFCW 3000 members,

We’re writing with an update on the progress of Senate Bill 5236 – our bill to create safe staffing standards in Washington.

Last Friday, the Senate Ways and Means Committee voted to pass an amended version of SB 5236. It is worth celebrating that this bill is continuing to move forward through the legislative process, even as we know the fight for a strong version with meaningful enforcement provisions is ongoing. At this point, a few senators have prevented us from implementing statewide safe staffing standards across the board as initially proposed. Despite this, the committee did amend SB 5236 to strengthen staffing committees and improve enforcement, setting a solid foundation for us to keep fighting for safe staffing standards. We’re confident this agreement gets us closer to enforceable staffing standards by establishing penalties for hospitals that continue to violate staffing plans, and under the amended bill, if hospitals continue those violations, they would be subject to Labor and Industries’ strict enforcement of safe staffing standards.

The most important thing for all healthcare workers to know is that negotiations at the Capitol around this bill – what staffing standards and enforcement will look like – are ongoing as we speak, and state senators need to hear loud and clear from their constituents that this bill should stay as strong as possible.

There is still time for hospital lobbyists to try to weaken the bill, but that means there is also time for us to make our voices heard. Contacting your senator, and encouraging your coworkers, family, friends, and community to do so as well, is the main way we can keep up the pressure. Share your experiences with short-staffing and what it means for your patients. Let them know what the current lack of accountability around staffing plans looks like day to day. Make it clear that their constituents are paying attention and demanding action.

- Contact your state senator by clicking on the red button below – you may also look up your legislative district and find their contact information here.

- Or leave a voice message for your state senator via the legislative hotline: 1-800-562-6000.

Our next hurdle will be to get SB 5236 passed off the Senate floor by March 8th. We thank Senator June Robinson for being our legislative champion on behalf of Washington’s healthcare workers and Senator Christine Rolfes, who chairs the Ways and Means Committee, for keeping the focus on this bill until it was voted out of committee.

Your work and advocacy up to this point have been invaluable. We encourage you to continue reaching out to your Legislators to urge them to pass SB 5236.

In solidarity,

David Keepnews, PhD, JD, FAAN - Executive Director, WSNA

Jane Hopkins, RN - President, SEIU 1199

Faye Guenther - President, UFCW 3000

2. Presumptive Eligibility for Nurses with PTSD

The house version of the PTSD bill, HB 1593, was voted out of the Appropriations committee on Thursday on a predominantly party line vote.

The senate version, SB 5454, was voted out of committee on Friday with an amendment changing the bill to make PTSD an occupational disease for direct care nurses. While not as strong as we had hoped, this version of the bill will still increase access to nurses seeking workers compensation for PTSD because they will no longer have to tie their PTSD to a specific event.

3. ARNP Reimbursement Parity

SB 5373 was removed from executive session at Ways & Means on Friday which means the bill did not make it past the fiscal cutoff and no longer has a viable path in the Legislature.

4. Nurse Licensure Compact

The house version of the compact, HB 1417 did not make it past fiscal cutoff which means it is no longer in play this legislative session. Last week the Senate Health Care committee voted out the senate version of the compact, SB 5499. The bill is now in the Rules committee.