Gov. Jerry Brown took a strong stand against mounting pension obligations with his veto pen over the weekend with a decision that also removed the legal authority for the board that licenses and investigates nurses.
Brown objected to a part of the proposed law that would allow the nursing board to hire investigators who are also peace officers entitled to generous pensions. “This makes no sense fiscally and flies in the face of much-needed pension reform,” Brown wrote in his veto message [PDF].
The veto shut down what is known as a “sunset bill” that coincides with periodic reviews of the boards and commissions that oversee health professionals in California. The reviews tend to include in-depth reports [PDF] and hearings about the function of each board.
The bill vetoed over the weekend was expected to extend the nursing board’s authority starting Jan. 1 through 2016.
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Those watching the nursing board bill were surprised it did not pass and threw into question the very existence of the state’s largest oversight board, which licenses, investigates and doles out discipline to registered nurses.
Sen. Curren Price, D-Los Angeles, the bill’s author and chairman of the Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee, said yesterday that getting the board back on track will be a priority.
“We will restore the Board as quickly as possible either during Special Session, if it’s called, or in January as soon as we get back from recess,” Price said in a written statement. “It is absolutely imperative that the Board of Nursing be established in a manner which addresses the Governor’s concerns.”
In the veto message, Brown asked his administration to take all steps necessary “to protect consumers and nurses alike” until the board is reconstituted. Spokeswoman Elizabeth Ashford said the office has received assurances from lawmakers that they will act swiftly to get a new law in place when the Legislature reconvenes.
Yesterday, the Board of Registered Nursing amended the agenda [PDF] for its Thursday meeting in San Diego to discuss the situation.
The nursing sunset bill also would have given the board more oversight over schools that teach nursing, including the authority to issue cease-and-desist orders to unapproved schools. The move comes after federal agents in January raided a Pleasanton school that offered nursing courses, calling it a “sham” institution.
Brown made other noteworthy decisions in recent days. He approved a slate of bills that would enact health care reform in California in line with – and a bit ahead of – federal changes coming in 2014. He also legalized needle exchanges to prevent the spread of HIV and other diseases and barred teens from using tanning beds.