After weeks of negotiations, we are pleased to report we have reached a compromise on SB 5236 – the staffing bill that would have mandated nurse-to-staff ratios. Most notably, there will no longer be mandated ratios in the bill. We worked with the prime bill sponsor, unions representatives and other key legislators to identify a way forward to address concerns raised by staff in some hospitals while also ensuring patients across Washington will maintain access to essential services. The bill passed out of the Senate Committee on Ways & Means last week and we expect it to be amended on the Senate floor with compromise language.
In addition to removing the mandated ratios, the amendment will strengthen the current nurse staffing committee model. Under the law, staffing plans are set collaboratively between management and staff at the local level and are filed with the state. The amendment requires hospitals to meet their staffing plans 80 percent of the time or face a corrective action plan and penalties developed by the state Department of Health (DOH) and Department of Labor and Industries (L&I). The new language also gives L&I a greater role in investigating staffing complaints in addition to the DOH.
We are continuing to meet with legislators and union representatives to finalize agreement on language for the proposed amendment. You can read more about this bill and the others that are continuing to advance this session in Inside Olympia, which is posted on the WSHA website.
WSHA Senior Vice President of Government Affairs