Nurses for PA Questionnaire

Posted on September 06, 2020 · 8 mins read


Garret responded to a Nurses of PA candidate questionnaire. The question asked about stances on a number of healthcare-related bills currently being considered in the legislature.

After having reviewed the Nurses of PA Nurses Platform and speaking with several members of the organization in a brief candidate interview recently, I fully support the platform, which includes:

  • Adequate PPE now and for the future.
  • Widespread rapid testing and contact tracing.
  • Paid sick time for every essential worker.
  • Nurses must have a seat at every table where recovery plans are being made.
  • Workplace protections for nurses advocating for our patients.
  • Get people the healthcare they need, regardless of the money they have.
  • We must take steps to ensure things never get this bad again.

I also encourage voters to sign the Nurses of PA petition in favor of safe patient limits in PA. Nurses today are under-staffed and over-worked in hospitals and nursing homes, so safe patient limits would ensure both nurses and patients are treated with respect. I would support such legislation if I were elected.

I have provided my updated and expanded responses to their questionnaire below. The questionnaire listed some bills and asked if I supported or not; so I will provide some more information on the bills and some of my thinking, even though the original questionnaire did not have space to do this.

We are grading legislator’s alignment with our values based upon the following votes and bills. Since you are not currently in office, we instead ask you to tell us how you would have voted on the following legislation:

HR 836

This is a resolution to end the governor’s disaster declaration for COVID. Since ending the disaster declaration sends the message that the pandemic is over, when it clearly isn’t, and threatens extra funding and protections for people, I would have voted NO. (My opponent Rep Kulik voted YES, with Republicans)

SB 613

This bill would have allowed business to completely reopen, if they complied with weak federal guidelines from the Trump administration. Trump’s guidelines are insufficient to protect the health of people, and so without stronger guidelines and advice of medical experts, I do not support businesses reopening as if it were “normal”. It’s not normal, it’s a pandemic. I would have voted NO (My opponent Rep Kulik also voted NO)

HB 2412

This bill would loosen emergency pandemic requirements on real estate businesses by granting real estate services a waiver from the occupancy limitations from COVID mitigations. I believe real estate must follow the same mitigation guidelines as any other business – namely, limiting in-person services to maintain mask usage and distancing. Garret would have voted NO. (Rep Kulik voted YES, with Republicans)

SB 1166

This bill would restrict the governor’s powers during emergency disaster, meant to restrict actions taken during the pandemic like face masks, closing businesses, and restricting occupancy. I would have voted NO, to keep these restrictions in place. (Rep Kulik voted YES, with Republicans)

HB 33

This bill ends the general assistance cash benefit for folks that don’t qualify for welfare or any other program. This assistance is credit particularly during a pandemic and economic crisis, and should absolutely not be attacked. I would have voted NO (Rep Kulik voted NO)

SB 1181

This bill provides liability protection for businesses and hospitals for COVID. In essence, this would grant some amount of legal immunity for being open during a pandemic. After speaking with the Nurses of PA about it, I have concerns this type of bill would allow poor decisions to be made on the basis of profit, knowing that there would be protection from liability. I would vote NO (no votes has been held yet, unclear how Rep Kulik would vote)

HB 2429

This bill would grant an exemption for lawn and garden stores to reopen normal operations during a pandemic. While I recognize the need for garden stores to allow people to plant their own garden for self-sufficiency and sustainability, we can find better ways to get folks the garden supplies they need without cramped shops that would spread the pandemic. I would have voted NO (Rep Kulik voted YES, with Republicans)

SB 450 / HB 867

This bill would set lower maximum patient to nurse ratios for staffing. This means nurses have fewer patients, and so more time to take care of them, and less nurse exhaustion and burnout from overworking. Research shows this results in much greater health outcomes. I definitely would vote YES (no votes held yet, but Rep Kulik is not a co-sponsor)

SB 842

This bill changes requirements for medical photo ids to enable protection for nurses from violence. Some patients might become angry and event retaliate against medical professionals, and so providing less personal information on the badge helps cut down on these sorts of attacks. I would have voted YES (Kulik voted YES, was unanimous)

HB 2510

This bill in principle provides extra pandemic resources for nursing homes. However, the bill as written gives too much power to UPMC and privatization efforts through “private-public” cooperatives that are in actuality completely private. After speaking with Nurses of PA, I would have voted NO and instead fought for a more comprehensive solution with Medicare for All providing needed resources (Kulik voted YES, was near unanimous)

Amendment 4993 to SB 613

This amendment would have added protections for workers including $15 wage and hazard pay to the bill to re-open. Workers in my opinion deserve even more than $15 wage in order to meet minimum wage requirements, so I fully support raising the wage. The amendment also would have also required businesses to provide hazard pay and personal protective equipment, absolutely necessary during a pandemic. I would have voted YES (Rep Kulik voted YES). This amendment unfortunately did not pass.

Why should nurses trust your commitment to our values?

As a Green Party candidate, I am an independent – both independent from the Democratic and Republican Parties that have largely failed nurses and the general public as a whole, as well as independent from corporations and their political donations designed to influence policy makers and their voters. If elected, I will maintain this independent stance and truly represent nurses and the public.

The Green Party has long supported policies like Medicare for All and a Green New Deal that would guarantee a right to healthcare for all and support nurses in various ways including student debt forgiveness.

How will you fight for our Nurse Values?

As a state representative, I would introduce and co-sponsor legislation that would defend our values. Among others, I believe a state-level Medicare for All like healthcare program and a Green New Deal must be priorities, among other legislation.

However, until legislation has passed, I believe the position of state representation should be a full-time organizer. I would write op-eds in newspapers and get the word out about our values and related legislation. In other words, I would try to raise awareness and education and support for legislative action. I do not believe in sitting back and blaming the lack of passage on Republicans or Democrats, but actively fighting to get more public support and pressure for passage.

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