Lawmakers proved unwavering while discussing the passage of SB 6199 during House floor debate. There was a clear divide between Republicans and Democrats, with those in opposition saying it would go against constituents’ best interests, and those in support saying it would better protect home care workers.
SB 6911 would update the current system for managing individual health care providers by approving the state Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) to elect a private third-party administrator to employ them.
The bill’s prime sponsor is State Sen. Annette Cleveland (D-49), and its cosponsors include State Sens. Steve Conway (D-29), Mark Miloscia (R-30) and Karen Keiser (D-33).
In 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Harris v. Quinn that limited public employees, including individual home care providers, have the right to opt out of participating in a union.
Earlier this month, Senate Republicans brought up concern that the legislation would go against the court’s decision and remove an individual provider’s protections and freedom of choice to choose to join a union.
After the bill’s third reading, the Senate approved the measure in a 26-21 vote.
Mar. 1 House floor debate proved just as energetic as the Senate’s, as lawmakers offered clashing opinions on how the Legislature should handle the controversial measure.
State Rep. Monica Jurado Stonier (D-49) told colleagues: “This is request legislation from the agency so that we can better serve our caregivers in Washington state.
“Our caretakers in Washington…deserve to be well-qualified, deserve to be well-trained so they and their clients are safe. They deserve to be well-paid and deserve healthcare.”
On the other side of the aisle, House Republicans shared stories from constituents and read e-mails expressing their opposition to the measure.
State Rep. Jacquelin Maycumber (R-7) said she found fault with requiring individual providers to pay some $900 in union dues each year without the option of opting out.
“This is an agency request,” she continued. “We are almost feeding the beast that comes back at us and that is sad. Continuously feeding $1,000 of beast that comes back and asks for more instead of fixing the problem.”
State Rep. Michelle Caldier (R-26) told colleagues that she cannot support a bill that goes against the wishes of her constituents.
“What the people that I represent are saying is that they are upset because they have got very low incomes and they are now going to have to pay $900 to a place they can’t afford to send money to.”
“What they are saying is ‘I am struggling, and my family needs that money. Please don’t do that,’” she continued. ““Are we here to take money from the most vulnerable? I can’t do that.”
After much debate, the House approved the measure in a 50-0 vote, with all Republican lawmakers excusing themselves from the vote. The measure now awaits signatures from House and Senate leaders before being sent to Governor Jay Inslee’s desk for consideration.