The Assembly this week is slated to attempt to override Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ veto of legislation that would reduce the number of required training hours needed to become a certified nursing assistant in Wisconsin, as well as vote on raises for unionized trades employees within the University of Wisconsin System.
On Wednesday, Republicans who control 63 of 99 seats in the Assembly will need to secure three votes from Democratic lawmakers if they hope to override Evers’ November veto of legislation proponents say will help address the state’s shortage of certified nursing assistants.
“Ensuring that our most vulnerable receive the care they need is not a partisan issue — it’s only commonsense,” Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke, R-Kaukauna, said in a statement. “On Wednesday, we’ll again provide an opportunity for our members to demonstrate that they’re above partisan politics and cast a vote to reaffirm what is truly right — providing care for those in need.”
State law requires nursing assistants to complete 120 hours of training, while federal rules require a minimum of 75 hours. Under the bill, state health officials would be prohibited from requiring nursing assistants to obtain more than 75 hours of training.
In May, the bill passed the Assembly 66-31, with Reps. Steve Doyle, D-Onalaska; Beth Meyers, D-Bayfield; and Don Vruwink, D-Milton, joining GOP lawmakers in support of the legislation.
Doyle, Meyers and Vruwink did not respond to requests for comment Monday.
Bill author Rep. Warren Petryk, R-Town of Washington, said in a statement he’s hopeful the Assembly secures the 66 votes — two-thirds of the Assembly — needed to override Evers’ veto.
“This vote is needed because the governor chose to ignore the voices of seniors, persons with disabilities, caregivers, long-term care providers, healthcare providers, and members of his own party and vetoed this bipartisan piece of legislation,” Petryk said in the statement.
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Evers’ vetoed the bill in November and said at the time he objected to reduced training for those who care for the state’s most vulnerable residents. Evers said in a November statement there are better ways to address the state’s shortage of nursing assistants and he had directed the Governor’s Task Force on Caregiving to develop strategies to attract and retain such workers in such positions.
In November, Assembly Republicans failed in their effort to overturn three of Evers’ budget vetoes. It was the first time the Legislature had attempted a veto override in nine years.
The Assembly also on Wednesday is scheduled to take up six bills that would move forward two years of collective bargaining agreements for the several hundred unionized trades employees across the University of Wisconsin System campuses.
The UW System Board of Regents approved the agreements close to nine months ago, but Dave Branson, executive director of the Building and Construction Trades Council of South Central Wisconsin, which represents the UW trades employees, said those workers — ranging from bricklayers and carpenters to plumbers and painters — continue to wait for cost-of-living raises.
“They’re very significant; these guys have not had a raise since 2018,” Branson said. “Even though prices have inflated and costs have gone up, their wages have not kept pace with that.”
If approved, the 2018-19 agreement would entail a 2.13% increase, while the 2019-20 agreement amounts to a 2.44% raise. The raises will be retroactive, but Branson added that trades employees who have retired since negotiations began will not be eligible.
Other UW System employees received two separate 2% raises last fiscal year.
Branson said three collective bargaining units — UW-Madison, UW System and the state — represent about 425 total trades employees. Each unit voted to renew its status in November.
The agreements also must be approved by the Senate and Gov. Tony Evers.