Newsletter: Bill Signings, Nursing Crisis & Behavioral Health

Dear friends and neighbors,

The old saying is true: time flies when you’re having fun or, for lawmakers, when we’re legislating. Today is the 99th day of this 105-day session.

Last week was packed with activity. First, passing bills before the Wednesday 5 p.m. deadline, and then working on concurrences, which is when a bill is amended and passed by the opposite chamber, it returns to its house of origin for members to agree with the changes. If the changes are rejected, then the bill goes to conference, where both legislative bodies appoint conferees to discuss differences and seek resolution.

In the midst of all this activity, however, we find time to enjoy the cherry blossoms that, in full bloom, enhance the beauty of our state Capitol.

Capitol Cherry Blossoms

This year we began a video series aptly named “From the Wings” because they were shot on the wings of the House floor during breaks from floor debate. I have included some of them in this newsletter, so click on the thumbnails to watch them. And click here to watch all seven of my “From the Wings” videos.

Bills signed into law!

I am happy to report that two of my priority bills have been signed by the governor!

Ramos 1265House Bill 1265, which establishes a property tax exemption for adult family homes that serve people with intellectual or developmental disabilities and are owned by a nonprofit, was enacted into law this past Thursday. But this was no ordinary bill signing ceremony; the governor explained that he doesn’t do what took place very often, however, this occasion certainly called for it: he named Leo Finnegan Washingtonian of the Day for his exemplary dedication to creating housing solutions for people with disabilities. Click here or on the photo below to read more about Leo’s work and check out other pictures from the ceremony.

1265 bill signing

1179 wingsI have written before about my House Bill 1179, authorizing the state auditor to receive non-conviction data. This measure really is about increasing transparency in deadly force investigations, and I am so pleased that it was among the first bills signed by the governor! Read the press release here.

1179 bill signing

Another bill that I am very excited to see become law, especially as chair of the State Government and Tribal Relations Committee, is House Bill 1048, or as it has been called around here, Washington Voting Rights Act 2.0. This measure is necessary to ensure there’s access to fair and effective representation for historically marginalized and underrepresented communities in Washington state. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Sharlett Mena, summarized the need for her legislation succinctly: “This bill makes the Washington Voting Rights Act more accessible and practical for communities to use. We created the WVRA to ensure that every vote matters, let’s make sure that every Washington voter can unlock its promise.” Learn more reading this press release.

Addressing Washington’s nursing crisis

According to the Washington Center for Nursing, an average of 2,600 people graduated as registered nurses 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.

While adding 220 nursing education slots last year is a good start, it doesn’t meet current needs. So 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.

3 Nurses

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.

A word on behavioral health

Our Resilient Washington Operating Budget proposal includes 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, including access to behavioral health services.

Ramos behavioral healthThat’s why we are investing $1.3 billion to support 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.

Stay tuned & stay in touch

Thank you for your continued interest in my work as your state representative here, in Olympia. This last week will be focused on reconciling differences between House and Senate budgets, so stay tuned for a comprehensive report on budget investments once they are finalized.

And please stay in touch! Even though session is scheduled to end this weekend and we will all be going back to our districts, keep in mind that I represent you year-round, so don’t hesitate to contact my office with your questions and concerns.


Ramos sig

visit my FB 2023