California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger did not have the authority to relax the state's nurse-to-patient ratios, a state judge said in a preliminary ruling, indicating the California Nurses Association may win another legal victory in its campaign to enforce the law. Sacramento Superior Court Judge Judy Hersher issued the preliminary ruling before a hearing scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Pacific Standard Time today. A final ruling will follow the hearing. Hersher said Schwarzenegger and the state Department of Health Services overstepped their authority in November 2004 with an emergency regulation that eased certain provisions of the staffing law and delayed for three years a tightening of the medical-surgical ratio to one nurse for every five patients from one for every six. Hersher in early March issued a preliminary injunction blocking the emergency regulation. A Schwarzenegger administration official said the state would appeal if the judge upholds her preliminary ruling. The administration "strongly rejects" both the preliminary ruling and earlier injunction, the official said. -- by Melanie Evans
Preliminary ruling upholds Calif. nurse-staffing ratio
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