Welcome to WSNA's update from Olympia and the 2023 legislative session.
In this week’s update you'll find a recap on week 9 including:
1. Update on Safe Staffing Standards bill - Action Alert!
2. Expanding workers compensation for nurses with PTSD - Action Alert!
3. Nurse Licensure Compact
4. Other nurse related bills that made it past cutoff date
On Wednesday of this past week the Legislature hit an important milestone with the "house of origin cutoff." This means that any bill that did not pass out of the House or the Senate (depending on where it started) by this cutoff date is no longer viable this legislative session.
1. Update on Safe Staffing bill - Action Alert - take action below!
The Senate passed SB 5236 on Monday evening with a 35-13 vote. This is the first major piece of safe staffing legislation to pass the Senate since 2017. In addition to strengthening staffing committees, the bill adds an additional layer of enforcement of the staffing law including requiring hospitals to operate under state mandated staffing standards if they are not compliant with their own staffing plans. In 2022, our staffing bill died before it could make it to the Senate floor for a vote. This milestone couldn’t have been achieved with out the leadership and tenacity of the prime sponsor Senator June Robinson (D-Everett). Please take a minute to email Senator Robinson to thank her for her hard work and strong belief that nurses deserve better than current working conditions.
TAKE ACTION TODAY: SB 5236 is scheduled for a hearing in the House Labor committee on Wednesday, March 15 at 8 a.m. The House of Representatives now needs to hear from nurses about why this bill is important! Please use the link below to sign in "pro" in support, fill out the requested information, but leave "organization" blank, and click green "submit registration" button upon completion.
2. Expanding workers compensation for nurses with PTSD - Action Alert
On Monday evening, the Senate passed SB 5454 with a 35-13 vote. You may watch the Senate floor vote here. SB 5454 expands workers compensation benefits for PTSD. Under current workers compensation law, nurses can only qualify for benefits for PTSD if they can pinpoint their PTSD to a specific incident. If SB 5454 becomes law, nurses would no longer need to associate their PTSD with a specific incident to qualify for workers compensation. An earlier version of this bill included a presumption of eligibility for PTSD for nurses, but that presumption had to be removed in the Ways & Means committee due to high costs to the state.
Thanks to Senator Cleveland’s (D-Vancouver) sponsorship and hard work on this bill, SB 5454 has made it out of the Senate and is now scheduled for a hearing in the House Labor committee for Friday, March 17th at 10:30am.
Action Alert: Please sign in "pro" to support the bill here, fill out the requested information, but leave "organization" blank, and click the green "submit registration" button upon completion. Sign in's allowed up until one hour prior to the scheduled hearing time.
3. Nurse Licensure Compact
On Monday evening, the Senate passed the Nurse Licensure Compact, SB 5499, with a 40-8 vote. You may watch the floor vote here. WSNA continues to have concerns about the Compact. However, bipartisan interest in the bill has required us to collaborate with the Senate sponsor to find ways to improve the bill using “trailer language.” The version of the Compact that passed out of the Senate is significantly improved to other versions we have seen in the past. This is the version of the Compact that includes a requirement on employers to report nurses working at their facility to the state within 30 days of their employment. The bill also requires that nurses holding a compact license take the required Washington suicide training. Compact licensees will also have to report demographic data to the state. In order to offset any potential revenue losses to the commission, nurses interested in a compact license will be required to pay an additional 8-dollar surcharge for a compact license so that regular Washington licenses do not bear the cost.
4. Other nurse related bills that made it past cutoff
Nurse Workforce Supply: A bill sponsored by Senator Holy (R-Spokane) addressing health care workforce supply, SB 5582, passed out of the Senate on Monday unanimously. Senators adopted two amendments to the bill on the Senate floor. The first amendment, proposed by Senator Conway, requires consultation with local workforce development councils in the development of the plan to train additional nurses. The second amendment, proposed by Senator Holy, requires the State Board of Technical Colleges to conduct a salary survey on nurse educator compensation instead of the Office of Financial Management.
Post Retirement Employment for Nurses: A bill sponsored by Senator Cleveland (D-Vancouver), SB 5538, passed out the Senate on Monday with a 41-7 vote. The bill allows state nurse retirees to come back and work for a state agency for up to 1040 hours without losing their retirement benefits.
Restrictions on Nurse Travel Agencies: SB 5547, Sponsored by Senator Robinson (D-Everett), requires that nurse travel agencies register in Washington and report annually to DOH about their operations. The bill passed unanimously out of the Senate.
Out of State Nurse Registration: HB 1547, passed out of the House on Monday unanimously. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Caldier (R-Gig Harbor) and allows for nurses practicing in Washington to work for up to 30 days before obtaining a temporary license. In order for this to apply a nurse must have good standing in Alaska, California, Idaho or Oregon. The bill also requires the nursing commission to expedite temporary practice permits for nurses living in those states.