Chasing a pursuit bill and tracking another nurse staffing battle

It’s Day 40. Here’s what’s happening in the 2023 session of the Washington Legislature

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2023 Washington Legislature, Day 40 of 105

Everett Herald political reporter Jerry Cornfield: | @dospueblos

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OLYMPIA, Feb. 17, 2023 — Good Friday afternoon.

It’s cut-off day. Lots of bills are dying.

Sadly, we must bury the one designating pediocactus nigrispinus AKA the Columbia Plateau cactus, as the official cactus of Washington. Senate Bill 5698, which had bipartisan support, never got a hearing.

Meanwhile, the debate on vehicle pursuit legislation is still very much alive.

Two bills emerged from a House committee Thursday as anticipated.

One sets up a work group and gives it a Dec. 31 deadline to craft recommendations for a model policy. This is a similar path Senate Democrats are taking.

The other — the controversial one — rewrites rules to let cops engage in a chase when they have reasonable suspicion a person in a vehicle has or is committing a crime. It lists which ones. Right now they need probable cause, a tougher legal standard.

An amendment makes the change temporary. It will go away July 1, 2025, presumably enough time for law enforcement agencies to implement the model policy.

Senate Democrats have shown little interest in revising pursuit rules. Adding a sunset clause is “a twist” they hadn’t thought of, a key Democratic caucus member told me Thursday.

Gov. Jay Inslee is interested in doing something. He told reporters Thursday he’s “open” to the ideas getting batted around and hopes “some bill can get to my desk.”

The ‘other’ nurse staffing battle

Thirty seven states have signed onto the Nursing Licensure Compact. Washington may join them. One selling point is it allows nurses in a compact state to go practice in another compact state without having to obtain any additional licenses.

At first blush, it sounds like a good deal for Washington, which needs nurses, lots of them, badly. Hospital executives think so. But nurse unions don’t. They’ve squared off on Senate Bill 5499 and House Bill 1417 to be a compact state.

Those running hospitals and health care facilities think doing so will open a door to a large new pool of nurses who might come work here. Those running the unions think when the door opens, nurses will leave Washington and too little will be known about the training completed by those who come in from elsewhere.

Each bill moved out of committee this week. However, it’s too early to call it a done deal as there is vocal opposition in the Democratic caucuses in each chamber.

Put this topic on the watch list.

On the move

House Bill 1516 to make the Lunar New Year a state holiday passed unanimously out of the House State Government and Tribal Relations Committee on Wednesday.

It got changed in a notable way.

As originally written, it designated the Saturday before the beginning of the Lunar New Year as the legal holiday. And,unlike other holidays, it would not be observed on Friday, meaning state employees wouldnt get a day off.

Critics said making the holiday a different day than the actual Lunar New Year was “misguided and culturally insensitive.”

Lawmakers listened, amending the bill to make the actual day of the Lunar New Year the holiday. When it lands on a Saturday, it will be observed on Friday — like the state’s other legal holidays.

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