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Gatto.jpgProposed legislation to expand the independence of nurse practitioners failed to make it out of the Assembly's fiscal committee on Friday, joining 42 other bills likely done for the year.

Among the bills moving on to the Assembly for a floor vote are Senate Bill 4, the sole piece of legislation remaining that would regulate fracking, and SB 731, Senate leader Darrell Steinberg's bill calling for changes to the California Environmental Quality Act.

"It continues to be a work in progress at this late date and I think that reflects the delicacy of the issue," said Assembly Appropriations Chair Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles. "It's a very difficult issue. I hope he gets consensus and a product that we would be happy to vote for on the floor."

The Assembly Appropriations Committee considered 152 bills calling for $600 million in spending on their "suspense file," which is reserved for bills with annual costs of more than $150,000. Lawmakers moved through the list rapidly, passing 110 bills with a $17 million price tag.

Among those stalled in the committee were Democratic Sen. Loni Hancock's Senate Bill 283, which would allow drug felons to access food stamps, and Senate Bill 38 by Democratic Sen. Kevin de Leon. It would create an amnesty program for people prohibited from possessing guns to surrender them to law enforcement.

DemocratiscSen. Ed Hernandez's bill expanding the duties of pharmacists passed, but his measure to expand the duties of nurse practitioners -- Senate Bill 491 -- was halted. It lost the support of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners following recent amendments. The California Medical Association, which represents doctors, has staunchly opposed SB 491.

Hernandez said he will push forward with the bill next year.

"Despite numerous studies showing the safety of expanded practice for nurse practitioners, and not a single piece of contrary data offered by opponents, politics prevailed over sound public policy," Hernandez said in a statement. "The unfortunate result is that California will fall further behind in its ability to provide quality health care to our neediest population."

PHOTO: Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D- Los Angeles, in a 2011 file photo. Associated Press/Rich Pedroncelli



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