Skip to Content

Gov. Kotek signs two health care bills, one setting minimum nurse-to-patient staffing ratio

Gov. Tina Kotek signs two health care-related bills into law Tuesday
Gov. Tina Kotek's office
Gov. Tina Kotek signs two health care-related bills into law Tuesday

 SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek hosted a signing ceremony Tuesday for two bills passed during the 2023 legislative session that support patients and health care providers.

“With the leadership and collaboration that we saw across the health care landscape this session, I am confident that Oregon will continue to lead the way in building a more equitable health care system that centers patients and supports workers and providers,” Governor Kotek said.

House Bill 2002: Creates protections for patients seeking reproductive and gender affirming care and for providers administering that care, and closes insurance coverage gaps for gender-affirming care.

House Bill 2697: Creates a minimum nurse-to-patient staffing ratio and establishes committees for hospital care providers to improve staffing. 


News release from Oregon Nurses Association:

Safe Staffing Saves Lives Campaign a Success
Oregon Nurses Assn. 

Governor Kotek signs legislation to improve working conditions for frontline healthcare workers

(Salem, Ore.) - In a ceremonial signing at the state capitol today, Governor Tina Kotek signed House Bill 2697, Oregon’s Safe Staffing bill, into law. The governor was joined by many Oregon Nurses Association members and staff, and one of the bill’s chief sponsors Rep. Travis Nelson, RN.  

At the signing, ONA Board Secretary Allison Seymour, RN, offered gratitude for the leadership of Representatives Rob Nosse and Travis Nelson who championed the bill. She said unsafe staffing was the reason she left bedside and also the reason she felt compelled to help pass the new law.

“Not having enough nurses isn’t just bad for nurses, it is bad for patients and hospitals, and these issues were at the very heart of what HB 2697 was focused on addressing,” said Seymour. “I was proud to have advocated for the passage of HB 2697 and I am proud to be one of the many nurses who will be returning to the bedside now that we have the protections of this historic bill.”

The issues covered by the legislation include: establishment of minimum nurse-to patient ratios, wall-to-wall staffing committees, investigations and enforcement when hospitals fail to follow the law, and an end to the “buddy break system” where nurses end up with double the patient load when another nurse takes a break.  

While the new legislation makes great improvements to working conditions for some frontline caregivers, nurses and clinicians believe there is much more to be done. “ONA’s fight for safe staffing doesn’t end with the passage of this law. Our nurses and caregivers know what patients need at our hospital and care settings,” said ONA Executive Director Anne Tan Piazza. “We will continue to fight for improvements in our collective bargaining agreements and in Oregon law.”

Oregon’s legislation is setting precedent in that for the first time in any state, specified ratios of nurses to patients is in statute. “This is a groundbreaking day for a groundbreaking bill that will make hospitals and healthcare settings safer for Oregon’s patients and staff alike. It will save lives, and put Oregon at the forefront of safe staffing laws in the nation so patients receive the care and attention they need, and nurses aren’t subject to crushing workloads and inevitable burnout,” said American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten.

“Governor Kotek’s signature means putting patient and healthcare worker safety ahead of profits is now the law of the land in Oregon. We hope other states follow suit in this effort to address the ongoing crises facing our nurse and healthcare workforce.”

This fall, ONA will engage in rulemaking with the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and the Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) to guide them in implementing some of the most complex elements of the bill. ONA will also begin training our staffing committee members on how to implement those provisions of the bill into written staffing plans.

The Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) is the state’s largest and most influential nursing organization. We are a professional association and labor union which represents more than 16,000 nurses and allied health workers throughout the state. ONA’s mission is to advocate for nursing, quality health care and healthy communities. For more information visit:  

Article Topic Follows: Oregon-Northwest

Jump to comments ↓

KTVZ news sources


KTVZ NewsChannel 21 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content