The committee added an amendment that would prevent hospitals from laying off registered nurses, licensed practical nurses or certified nursing assistants to meet the standards. Opponents of the bill contend a similar law in California led to cuts in other employee ranks to pay for the hiring of new nurses.
Republicans complained all of it would put hospitals in an untenable situation and may lead to closures of smaller community hospitals.
"It intrudes on the management-labor relationship a great deal," said Rep. Mark Uglem, R-Champlin. "You need to have flexibility."
Rep. Joe Atkins, the bill's sponsor, said lawmakers need to look beyond the bottom line.
"Patient safety, patient's protection ought not to be decided at the bargaining table," said Atkins, DFL-Inver Grove Heights.
The bill has several more committee stops before reaching the House floor; a companion Senate bill awaits its initial hearing.