UE Local 170’s leadership is asking members to ask their delegates to start putting pressure on the House Health Committee to place House Bill 4799 on its agenda and to vote YES in support of it. We may have one last chance to move the bill — this Thursday, February 20.

HB4799, the Patient Safety and Transparency Act would require hospitals to report their recommended staffing matrix versus how many nurses are actually working per shift. It creates transparency, it does not mandate staffing ratios. Please contact your Delegates and the House Health Committee and let them know you support this bill.

Time is ticking on that and a number of bills that would benefit public workers. Sunday is the last day for bills to get out of committees in their house of origin. We posted list of bills, good and bad, in Friday’s update.

A favorable bill passed the Senate on Monday, dealing with increased protections for whistleblowers and those who wish to join “an organization for employees” — including this union. It has passed both houses, but the House is asked to concur with Senate changes.

Perhaps less favorable is SB 339, a Legislative rule-making bill dealing with the DHHR, advanced past Second reading in the House floor session today (Tuesday). DHHR social workers should pay attention to 64-5-1(n), which deals with qualifications for a provisional license to practice as a social worker within the DHHR.

Among the many other bills we are watching, SB 291 was laid over a day on Second Reading today (Tuesday). That bill would require the PEIA and other health insurance providers to provide mental health parity between behavioral health, mental health, substance use disorders, and medical and surgical procedures.

On Monday, the House passed HB 4581, which will include DHHR employees in the West Virginia Clearance for Access: Registry and Employment Screening process. The bill advances to the Senate, where it goes to the Health and Human Resources Committee.

Today (Tuesday) is the 42nd day of the 60-day session, which ends on March 7. Sunday the 23rd is the last day for bills to pass the committees in their house of origin. For a list of bills the union is monitoring (and pushing for some to move), click here.

Bad news for our efforts in helping retirees: The House Committee on Pensions and Retirement announced it cancelled its meeting Tuesday and will meet next week. That inaction would kill all bills in that committee, leaving the following Senate bills that would help retirees:

  • SB 31, opens an enrollment period of 11 months in which certain members of the Public Employees Retirement System can purchase previously forfeited service credit. (Passed Senate Committee on Pensions on January 16, still in Finance Committee)
  • SB 757, providing an annual cost-of-living adjustment for public employee and teacher retirees. (Pensions committee)
  • SB 673, increasing by $2 the monthly retirement annuity to retired public workers and teachers with more than 20 years of service. (Pensions)
  • SB 178, similar to SB 31.
  • SB 117, providing $1,000 cost-of-living adjustment to certain Public Employees Retirement System recipients and teacher retirees. (Pensions)
  • SB 146, establishing minimum monthly retirement annuity for retirees with 20 or more years of credited service. (Pensions)