Session Update!

February 01, 2020

There are issues very large and some very small being deliberated during the 2020 General Assembly Session; today’s update will focus on three large areas and one observation.  Let’s begin with the observation – –
  • We do not know yet what the final decision will be on the projected increase in the minimum wage (more about that later), but we do know that there is a lot of concern and consternation over the inevitable cost of any of the proposals.  VNPP has been raising concerns that as provider we not get caught between rates set by the General Assembly and wages authorized by the same body.  And others have also raised the alarm!  Observation – there is concern that the projected cost to Medicaid will be greater than the proponents of a higher wage will be willing or able to pay; that says a lot about how Medicaid rates have curtailed the wages for many in the health care professions.  A fact we have known, but now it is a painful reality to many.
  • Legislation which would threaten the development of residential options has not fared well; two bills which were of grave concern (HB828 and HB829) are both gone, others which demand closer oversight by DBHDS Office of Licensing are probably going to survive.
  • Paid leave and use of leave by employees is another “hot” topic this Session – There are still a couple of bills in play; both with an effective date of January 2021 which would allow a good analysis and discussion of implementation issues at the Fall Conference.
  • Minimum Wage is the last topic for today; it is inevitable that it will go up; the two measures still under consideration are HB 395 and SB 7. They each take a different approach:
    • both increase the minimum wage on July 1, 2020 [HB395 to $10 per hour; SB7 to $9.75 per hour],
    • both essentially end the increases at $15 per hour in 2024 or 2025,
    • SB 7 factors in the value of an employee health plan to offset some actual wage beginning in July 2023, and
    • HB 395 links the minimum to an adjusted state hourly minimum wage that increase the wage by the same percentage as the CPI-U beginning July 2025.
Other big issues (leaving out guns, reproductive rights, and labor unions) are less legislative and more Executive Branch issues, like DOJ and BH Redesign/Enhancement.  Stay tuned!