Washington lawmakers pass bill on issue that sparked senator’s controversial comments about nurses

The Washington Legislature has passed a bill that requires hospitals to give nurses and other staff regular rest and meal breaks, according to a Spokesman-Review report.

The issue has been in the news recently, after State Sen. Maureen Walsh said some nurses in small, rural hospitals “probably play cards” much of the time during a legislative debate.

Ms. Walsh, who has since apologized, faced backlash from nurses after her comments and received at least 1,700 decks of cards at her office.

Nurses and medical technicians were on hand April 24 as both chambers passed a revised version of a mandatory healthcare workers scheduling bill, according to the Spokesman-Review.

The revised version requires hospitals to provide time in their scheduling for meal and rest breaks, with exceptions for unforeseen or unavoidable emergencies. The bill also stipulates that workers are due an uninterrupted break later if unforeseen or unavoidable emergencies interrupt their break. There are also requirements in the legislation regarding overtime pay.

One talking point that came up during debate about legislation on the issue was whether to exclude some smaller hospitals from the requirements. According to the Spokesman-Review, the final version calls for hospitals with fewer than 25 beds to comply with the break requirements, but the law won't apply to them until July 1, 2021.


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