GOP effort to overturn nursing bill veto fails

Photo by Michelle Stocker, The Capital Times

Three Dem Assembly members voted to uphold Gov. Tony Evers’ veto of a bill that would have reduced the number of training hours required for nursing assistants even though they supported it when the legislation originally cleared the chamber.

Reps. Don Vruwink, of Milton, Beth Meyers, of Bayfield, and Steve Doyle, of Onalaska, joined their Dem colleagues, causing the GOP override effort to fail yesterday 63-36. That was short of the two-thirds majority needed to send the issue to the Senate.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said he “would assume a person of integrity would follow through” and uphold the original vote by overriding the veto.

The Legislature hasn’t overridden a gubernatorial veto since 1985, when it rejected one of then-Gov. Tony Earl’s partial vetoes in the budget. The Legislature hasn’t overridden a veto of a full bill since 1981.

AB 76 would’ve prohibited the Department of Health Services from requiring nursing assistants from having more clinical supervised practical training than the federal minimum. Federal law currently requires no less than 75 hours of training for nurses with at least 16 hours of supervised practical training. Current Wisconsin law requires 120 hours of training.

The bill originally passed the Assembly 66-31 and cleared the Senate by voice vote.

The bill’s author Rep. Warren Petryk, R-Town of Washington, said on the floor that it wasn’t a “silver bullet” but rather “this is about getting more care for our parents, our grandparents and yes, eventually us.”

Doyle said that he would turn down the override because the bill wasn’t a “silver bullet” for curing the state’s nursing labor shortage.

Vruwink didn’t say how he would vote ahead of the roll call. But he did say “your opinion changes of things when things are very dear to you,” referencing his brother who is currently in nursing care.

“I don’t believe we as a state have done enough no matter what bills you want to discuss,” Vruwink said.

Meyers did not speak on the floor ahead of the vote.

Evers vetoed the bill in November, saying he objected “to providing less training for those who care for our state’s most vulnerable citizens.”

The last time a full veto override passed one house but not the other was in 2003, when Gov. Jim Doyle vetoed a bill that would’ve allowed the concealed carry of firearms in certain circumstances.

Both legislative houses would need a two-thirds majority to override Evers’ veto. Lawmakers historically had one chance at a veto override per bill per session. But the Assembly changed its rules last month in order to hold veto overrides a potentially unlimited number of times per session.