Newsletter: Update on Bills, Addressing Nursing Shortage, Budget Highlights, and more!

Dear friends and neighbors,

Spring has sprung in Olympia; this means the cherry blossoms are in full bloom and the end of session is around the corner.

With just shy of two weeks left, we are passing Senate bills on the House floor, while our House bills are being debated and voted on in the Senate.  The last stretch of session is when we work on reconciling differences between the House and Senate budget proposals.  You can feel the intensity in every marble wall of this historic building!

Capitol Cherry Blossoms

Update on Bills

Bills on Floor Calendars

HB 1470, requiring private, for-profit detention facilities to comply with basic health and safety standards.

HB 1217, concerning wage complaints. In my last newsletter, I told you that this bill had been turned into a study, but it was amended again, which made it stronger. The bill now requires certain wage complaint settlements to include interest on all amounts owed, with the option for an employee to request a waiver or reduction of interest as part of the settlement process.

SB 5124 / HB 1278, supporting guardianships and voluntary placement with nonrelative kin. My bill didn’t pass the House, but its companion did pass the Senate and I hope we bring it to the House floor for a vote soon.

Legislation moving forward through a different avenue

HB 1228, building a multilingual, multiliterate Washington through dual and tribal language education.  Funding for this bill was added to the existing appropriations for dual and tribal language programs.

HB 1295, concerning voluntary placement agreements. I got a budget proviso to set up a phone line to provide contracted legal counsel for parents, guardians, or legal custodians when the department of children, youth and families proposes a voluntary placement agreement.

HB 1565, strengthening and supporting the Professional Education Workforce. I am working on getting funding for this bill.

Addressing Washington’s Nursing Crisis

According to the Employment Security Department, nursing is the most in-demand job in Washington, The Washington Center for Nursing states that an average of 2,600 people graduated as registered nurses in the state from 2014-2019, but close to the same number are expected to retire through 2029. In other words, we are replacing the nurses in the workforce, not growing the workforce.

Last year we added 220 nursing education slots, a good start, but it’s not enough to meet current needs.

3 Nurses

This session we passed a package of bills to retain the existing workforce, attract new nurses to the state, and graduate new nurses:

SB 5236, strengthens accountability to hospital staffing plans. If hospitals fall below 80 percent compliance with their staffing plans, they will be assigned corrective action plans. The bill also expands meal and rest break laws to include all frontline staff, closes loopholes to make mandatory overtime laws fully enforceable, and ensures hospitals follow the law.

SB 5499, enters Washington into the Nurse Licensure Compact, an agreement between 37 states that allows for a multistate nursing license. This means a nurse licensed in one of the participating states can work as a nurse in any of the other 36.

SB 5582, reduces barriers and expands educational opportunities to increase the supply of nurses in Washington by, among other things, requiring the development of an online Licensed Practical Nurse program; creating a marketing plan to advertise available nurse training opportunities and jobs in Washington; and creating pilot programs for high school students and working caregivers.

ESD to waive UI overpayment debt for some people

Thousands of workers who lost their jobs during the pandemic and applied for unemployment insurance benefits were overpaid and are now struggling to settle their debt with the Employment Security Department. If you are one of them, there’s good news: ESD will waive UI overpayment debt for some recipients.

ESD waive overpayments

Resilient Washington Operating Budget Highlights

This year, our Operating Budget makes significant investments to support equity, improve access to vital services, protect the environment, reduce poverty and homelessness, promote public safety, and ensure that individuals and families have the support they need to thrive.

Resilient WA Budget

$991 million for public health and healthcare: we are committed to equity, access to healthcare services, and the protection of public health during emergencies. By providing affordable healthcare options for low-income families and adequate compensation for healthcare providers, the state is working to ensure that everyone has access to the care they need. Additionally, funding for foundational public health and reproductive care grants shows the state’s dedication to preventive care and women’s health.

$491 million for poverty reduction: we’re prioritizing the values of economic justice and equity by providing support for low-income working families through the Working Families Tax Credit, access to nutritious food through food assistance, financial assistance for families facing hardship, and comprehensive support through changes to TANF.

$528 million for housing and homelessness: everyone needs a home. We’re providing comprehensive support to individuals and families who are experiencing homelessness or financial hardship through increased funding for homeless and housing service contracts, providing housing and essential needs, expanding encampment response, and supporting local government planning for housing, children, and youth homelessness.

$1.9 billion for k-12 education: we’re providing fair and equal opportunities for all students, by ensuring educators are compensated and supported, supporting students with disabilities through special education funding, and providing free meals to help students focus and succeed.

$1.9 billion for long-term care and developmental disabilities: we’re increasing rates for nursing home and home care workers, supporting adult family homes, and facilitating transitions out of acute care hospitals can help to ensure that individuals with disabilities and those in need of long-term care receive high-quality, compassionate care and support.

$608 million for childcare and early learning: we’re promoting equity and access to quality care for children, particularly those from low-income families and in kinship care. This investment supports ECEAP rates and slots, family care provider collective bargaining, and kinship caregivers, which can improve the availability and affordability of childcare, and help children develop social, emotional, and cognitive skills, which are crucial for their future success.

$1.3 billion investment for behavioral health: we’re supporting access to mental health and substance use disorder treatment and recovery services, including increased rates for providers and investments in behavioral health beds. This investment also prioritizes care for vulnerable populations, such as children with complex needs, and supports the workers who provide these critical services.

Celebrating Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, and Larry Itliong


March 31st was Cesar Chavez Day and today, April 10, is Dolores Huerta Day. To commemorate them, this morning we held a convocation on the Senate floor acknowledging Larry Itliong who was the third person, along with Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez, who founded the National Farm Workers Association. You can watch the TVW recording here.

Then at noon, we held a virtual event headed by the Latino Democratic Caucus, my office and the office of Sen. Rebecca Saldaña, the Washington Commission on Hispanic Affairs, and the Washington State Latino Leadership Network. The event was also live-streamed and recorded by TVW. You can watch it here.

As you know, we recently formed the Latino Democratic Caucus and my colleague and friend, Rep. Julio Cortes, from the 38th district and I met to discuss our thoughts and expectations with regards to the LDC. Here’s that conversation:

LDC Ortiz-Self-Cortez

Thank you for your continued interest in my work as your state representative.  I hope you are finding my newsletters informative.

If you need more information on any of the issues discussed here, or on any other legislative matter, please don’t hesitate to contact my office.


ortiz-self sig

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