The Swarm

Mix it up with The Bee's editorial board.

April 22, 2010
Gloria Negrete McLeod's effort to protect patients fails

Sen. Gloria Negrete McLeod's legislation to rid the nurses' ranks of drug users, predators and other miscreants failed today. It received one yes-vote, Negrete McLeod's.

The bill is the focus of today's editorial and aggressive reporting by the nonprofit investigative journalism project, ProPublica.

Influential unions representing nurses and powerful lobby groups representing dentists and other health care providers opposed the measure, prompting Democratic and Republican lawmakers to wilt.

The measure, SB 1111, sought to require that employers report nurses who are guilty of malfeasance to the state board responsible for licensing them.

As it is, the board commonly takes three years to discipline bad nurses. SB 1111 also would have extended similar patient protections to dentists and others in the health care industry.

Sen. Mark Wyland (R-Escondido) was the only member of the Business and Professions Committee who actually cast a no vote. Wyland said after the hearing that despite his opposition to SB 1111, he intended to work on the issue.

While Wyland cast a no-vote, others senators on the committee ducked when their names were called, a time-honored if craven method of killing bills without leaving fingerprints.

Democratic Sen. Leland Yee of San Francisco was in Room 113 of the Capitol, as were Ron Calderon of Montebello, Dean Florez of Shafter and Jenny Oropeza of Long Beach. They remained silent when the clerk asked them to vote.

Two other members apparently had more important places to be: Sen. Sam Aanestad (R-Grass Valley) and Sen. Mimi Walters (R-Tustin). Each is running for higher office, Walters for state Treasurer, and Aanestad, an oral surgeon, for lieutenant governor.

The Republican opposition was a slap at Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarznegger who said he was making the issue a major priority after the ProPublica articles began appearing last year.

Also missing from the room was Bill Leonard, who is Schwarzenegger's secretary of consumer affairs and is responsible for the health care boards.

Negrete McLeod said she was abandoning the bill but would continue working on the issue.

"We need to do something to protect the consumers," Negrete McCleod said.

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About The Swarm

The Swarm is written by members of The Sacramento Bee's editorial board. They meet daily and are separate from the newsroom. Views included here are those of individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect those of a majority of the board or the positions expressed in The Bee's editorials.

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