Wisconsin Assembly GOP override vote on nurse bill fails
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Republicans failed to override Gov. Tony Evers’ veto of a bill that would make it easier to become a nurse’s aide in Wisconsin after Democrats who previously voted for the proposal did not support the Wednesday override attempt.
The bill at issue would reduce the number of training hours needed to become a certified nursing assistant from 120 to 75, which is the minimum required by federal regulations. Supporters said lowering the state’s standards by 45 hours would help address a shortage of caregivers in the state. They also said the higher training requirement in Wisconsin makes the state less competitive with others that have a lower threshold.
Evers and fellow Democrats who opposed the bill said they objected to lowering training requirements and argued that there are better ways to address staffing shortages.
In May, three Democrats joined with all 63 Republicans and voted to pass the bill, the exact number of votes needed to override a veto. But the Wednesday vote to override was 63-36, with all Republicans in support and all Democrats against.
The three Democrats who voted for the bill but did not support the override are Reps. Steve Doyle, Don Vruwink and Beth Meyers.
Doyle said he voted against the override because doing that would have led some to stop working on solutions to the nursing shortage problem.
“We’re not done today with this vote,” Doyle said. “This is not a silver bullet. If we say we’re done ... that is the real tragedy here.”
Vruwink said that after watching the care received by his brother who has cancer, he realized that more training for nurse assistants was a good thing.
Republicans argued that Wisconsin was out of step with neighboring states that follow the lower federal training hours requirement. Lowering it would make Wisconsin more competitive and make the state more attractive to nurses who may want to move here but don’t want to undergo more training, they said.
While it wouldn’t solve the nursing shortage problem, it would “even the playing field a little bit,” said the measure’s Republican sponsor Rep. Warren Petryk. He said there was no evidence to show more training hours results in better care.
“This is a bipartisan bill,” said Republican Rep. Jon Nygren. “Gov. Evers screwed up. This is your opportunity to make it right.”
The Legislature hasn’t successfully overridden a gubernatorial veto since 1985. Even if the Assembly had voted to override, the Senate would also have had to concur. The nurse training bill passed there on a voice vote, making it impossible to know how many Democrats supported it. At least three of them in the Senate would have to join with all 19 Republicans to override.
Associated Press writer Todd Richmond contributed to this story.