Koch-backed Bill to Reduce CNA Training Up for Veto Override by GOP Assembly

Posted: January 15, 2020
Updated: January 16, 2020 in last paragraph with latest developments

A bill vetoed by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers that would have slashed the state’s required training time for certified nursing assistants (CNAs) is up for a veto override on Wednesday in the GOP-controlled Assembly.

The measure, Assembly Bill 76, has the support of the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity as well has major players in the nursing home and assisted living industries (see list below). The bill is opposed by aging groups and elderly care advocates.

CNAs frequently work on nursing home staffs and provide in-home care for elderly, frail, and disabled individuals. Current state law requires CNAs to have at least 120 hours of training and 32 hours of clinical experience. The bill would cut training to 75 hours and clinical experience to 16 hours, the minimum requirements set by federal law.

The bill’s backers say cutting training time would help address a severe shortage of CNAs throughout Wisconsin. Opponents of the measure say cutting training time would put the health and safety of vulnerable citizens at risk, and they add that a better way to attract CNAs is to raise their wages. Their current annual salary is around $31,000.

The bill, backed mostly by Republicans, was introduced in March and approved by the legislature in mid-November with some bipartisan support. Evers vetoed the measure Nov. 20, saying “I object to providing less training for those who care for our state's most vulnerable citizens. Research has shown that higher training standards result in better outcomes for patients, lower staff turnover, and higher job satisfaction.”

Aside from lobbying, Americans for Prosperity is an outside electioneering outfit that backs conservatives and Republicans for federal and statewide offices. The group is among the top spenders, at an estimated $14.3 million since January 2010, on outside electioneering activities in Wisconsin legislative and statewide elections.

Updated:  The Assembly veto override, which required 66 votes to succeed, failed on a party line 63-36 vote.

According to the Wisconsin Ethics Commission, trade groups and other organizations that support the bill to cut CNA training time are:

Americans for Prosperity

Disability Service Provider Network

Herzing University

Home Care Association of America

LeadingAge Wisconsin

Mayo Clinic

Outagamie County Board of Supervisors

Washington County

Wisconsin Assisted Living Association

Wisconsin Health Care Association

Opponents of the measure to cut training time are:

AARP

Alzheimer’s Association

Citizen Action of Wisconsin

Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups

Disability Rights Wisconsin

Greater Wisconsin Agency on Aging Resources

Wisconsin Coalition of Independent Living Centers

Wisconsin State AFL-CIO