Inside Olympia: Legislative session is now underway

January 14, 2019

The 2019 legislation begins today. This year’s session is the first in the two-year biennium and will last for 105 days, making it a “long” session. Policy bills will have 40 days to advance from their respective committees to the House or Senate floor. We expect hundreds of bills impacting health care to be introduced during this year’s session. The budget proposals will be released a bit later in session. This will be the first two-year budget writing year for the Democrats since taking back the Senate in late 2017.

Our top policy priorities for this session will help ensure that hospitals can be stable institutions in their communities long into the future, improve the behavioral health system for patients, and maintain flexibility for hospital operations while preventing burdensome and costly new regulations. You can read our full list of legislative priorities on our website. Policy and budget briefs will be available later this week.

After years of advocacy, we are excited to see behavioral health funding gaining significant traction. WSHA engaged heavily in developing ideas and promoting the need for a comprehensive plan.

One issue we expect to be hotly contested this year is staffing regulations. We are likely to see legislation that mandates uninterrupted nurse and certain technologist/technician meal and rest breaks. We expect this legislation to also place rigid constraints on the use of prescheduled on-call and mandatory overtime – critical tools used to support high-quality patient care. For example, hospitals cannot predict the number of women who will go into labor or when and how severely the flu will strike. These proposed changes will be harmful to delivering patient-centered care by reducing the ability of hospitals to be responsive to the fluidity of patient care needs.

Testimony: We need your help!

Your testimony is critical to helping enact legislation that will strengthen our health care system. Some bills introduced this session will get hearings before committees, and the legislative process only provides between two and seven days of notice before a hearing takes place. If you are asked to testify, we hope you will be able to make the trip to Olympia to tell your hospital’s story and explain to lawmakers how their decisions will impact patient care.

We realize making the trip on short notice can be difficult, but it is essential to achieving positive outcomes for health care in Washington State.

Join us for our legislative kickoff webcast Thursday, Jan. 17

Join us at noon on Thursday, Jan. 17 for our state legislative session kickoff webcast. The webcast will cover what to expect during the 2019 legislative session, give an overview of WSHA’s legislative priorities and hot topics. The webcast will include an opportunity to ask questions of WSHA’s Government Affairs leaders. It will also be recorded for members to view at their convenience. Register now and add the webcast to your calendar.

Hospital Advocacy Day in Olympia Thursday, Feb. 7

SHA will host Hospital Advocacy Day in Olympia on Thursday, Feb. 7. We will spend the day advocating for our priority initiatives, talking with legislators and telling the hospital story. Please plan to join us, tell your story and help us advocate for health care improvements in Washington State.

Please RSVP to Advocacy Program Manager Lori Martinez at to let us know if you can attend.

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Contact Us

Washington State Hospital Association
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Seattle, WA 98104

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206.281.7211 phone
206.283.6122 fax

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