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TPP: Not a good trade

20 Mar IMG_1310
Rose Roach

MNA Executive Director Rose Roach

By Rose Roach, MNA Executive Director

 

Recently, we’ve seen some lawmakers talking the benefits of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, including President Obama and 6th District US Rep. Tom Emmer. The Delano Republican’s endorsement is interesting, considering he’s never seen the whole of the TPP agreement. No member of Congress has. Only the 600 corporate negotiators know what’s really in it, which doesn’t inspire much confidence. US Rep. Keith Ellison (MN-5th) is one of the several members of Congress who have requested it but still hasn’t gotten it. All we can go on is what actual trade experts think will transpire if TPP becomes law. The consequences of the TPP are frightening, especially for anyone who routinely uses prescription drugs or depends on a living wage.

 

For starters, the TPP would establish an agreement for tariffs and trade provisions in 12 nations, including the US, Australia, and Japan. Some provisions would be equal, others wouldn’t. One that appears to be unilateral has been pushed by pharmaceutical companies. They hope to be able to hold on to “data exclusivity” for 12 years. That means any research on new drugs is proprietary, and it will delay the release of generic drugs from any of these nations until well past the point when a patient needs them. The cost of drugs will go up, even for veterans, who are charged less than market rate.   ICU nurses see patients regularly who have to be placed on a ventilator due to heart failure simply because they couldn’t afford their life sustaining medication, medication that in many cases, costs the pharmaceutical company pennies on the dollar to actually make but because they are beholden to their shareholders, they mark-up the costs to ensure a hefty profit denying patients the ability to purchase the medication they desperately need. This “trade” agreement further entrenches these practices and puts public health at risk. Public health is not something that should be up for trade.

 

Because corporate regulations would be the same across TPP nations, corporations would be free to sue governments with rules or requirements that impact their business. This already exists under the North American Free Trade Agreement, but it would be greatly expanded under the TPP. It’s not crazy, and it’s already happened with countries being ordered to use taxpayer dollars to make up lost profit a corporation experiences due to laws that protect consumers. All the regulations the US has pioneered to protect its citizens, from food safety to environmental protections, could be challenged and overruled.

With such a low bar, policies that encourage the hiring of US companies and their US workers would be gone too. US federal contracts could go to any nation. “Buy local” incentives would be history, meaning companies would be encouraged to offshore even more services such as IT support, customer service, even HR and accounting. President Obama touts TPP as a “progressive” deal because it would require all nations to stick to their respective minimum wage laws. That’s pretty meaningless when each country has a different minimum wage, and some don’t have one at all.

 

By far, the most maddening aspect of TPP is its secrecy. The fast track approval process means our elected representatives in Congress won’t see it until it’s done, and it’s not up for debate. They’ll either have to vote it up or down. This flies against the very words in the US Constitution (Article I, Section 8) that guarantee our local representatives in Congress the authority to determine the terms of trade policy. If TPP is such a terrific trade deal, the public, through its elected representatives, should be allowed to have a full and open debate to ensure this agreement really is in the best interest of the American people.

 

Summing up, we give away our rights to decide our future, our good jobs, our living wages, our consumer and environmental protections, and our ability to buy cheaper product including drugs that could save our lives. In exchange, we get next to nothing. That doesn’t sound like a very good trade at all.

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Video: MNA Nurses Deliver Valentines to MN Dept of Health

25 Feb 4

100 nurses delivered more than 2,000 Concern for Safe Staffing Forms to Commissioner of Health Ed Ehlinger. They lined up to tell their stories of unsafe staffing situations and the effects it has on patients.

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Video: 2015 MNA Nurses Day on the Hill

18 Feb rep1

150 MNA member nurses came to the Capitol in St. Paul to tell lawmakers they want a Safe Patient Standard and that nurses and patients are not safe in the workplace.

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Video: MNA Nurses Support Effort to End Workplace Violence

12 Feb Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 10.08.20 AM

Nurses from St. John’s Hospital in Maplewood describe horrific night when a patient suddenly attacked them. MNA nurses are fighting for workplace safety for all healthcare workers in all facilities.

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Video: Help Nurses Elect Candidates Who Help Nurses

16 Sep IMG_0298

 

 

Join other dedicated members of the Minnesota Nurses Association who are supporting MNA endorsed candidates.  Go to http://www.mnnurses.org/policy-and-advocacy/election-2014-volunteer-opportunities
OR call Eileen Gavin at 651-414-2871.

 

Help elect candidates who support nurses

22 Aug leadership compass

leadership compass

Minnesota’s party primaries are over, and the November 4 general election slate of candidates is set.  It’s now time to make sure that candidates who share nurses’ values are elected.

If we hope to make progress toward staffing legislation that will keep patients safe, nurses need to help make sure voters to go the polls and elect candidates who will advocate for nursing, our patients, and our communities.

Nurses are the most trusted profession in the United States and the best messenger to let voters know about the candidates who will be on the side of working families.

You can join other nurses and make phone calls, talk to your neighbors and friends, and go to candidate events.

There are opportunities in every part of the state to help elect candidates who will stand with nurses.

Saturday, August 23, 9:30 a.m. – 2 p.m., Hopkins

Rep. Yvonne Selcer (48A) canvassing
Coordinated DFL office, 915 Main St., Hopkins

selcer

Tuesday, August 26, 5-8 p.m.
Phonebanking at MNA office
345 Randolph Ave, Suite 200, St. Paul

Wednesday, August 27, 2014, 5-8 p.m.
Phonebanking at MNA office
345 Randolph Ave, Suite 200, St. Paul

Thursday, September 4,  4:30-8:30 p.m.
2014 Labor Day of Action
Door knocking and phone banking for pro-labor candidates at locations around Minnesota.

MNA’s website is updated frequently with new opportunities to volunteer throughout Minnesota.

You can sign up for activities on the Member Portal on MNA’s website.

Primary Election August 12-MNA Supports Rebecca Otto for Auditor

6 Aug

Minnesota’s primary election is Tuesday, August 12. You have a chance to return one of the most accomplished state auditors in the country to her post.

Rebecca Otto

MNA endorses Rebecca Otto for State Auditor

MNA has endorsed Rebecca Otto for State Auditor. Otto has carefully served as a watchdog for local governments, including her role in reviewing almost 700 public pension plans, and promoting legal compliance and accountability.

Rebecca Otto (DFL) is one of the most highly-respected state auditors in the United States. In 2014 she was named one of the Most Influential Professionals in Government Auditing by the American Center for Government Auditing (ACGA). She has also received the National Auditors Association Excellence in Accountability Award for Best Practices Review: Reducing Energy Costs in Local Government. In 2011 she received the League of Minnesota Cities President’s Award.

Rebecca Otto has done an outstanding job for the citizens of Minnesota, and the Minnesota Nurses Association is proud to support her.

Find your polling place.

Not registered? You can register at the polls!

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Video: Minnesota Nurses Hold Informational Picket at North Memorial Hospital

25 Jun DSC_4552

 

 

Minnesota Nurses fighting for safe staffing levels for patients held an informational picket on Tuesday, June 24, 2014.  Legislative leaders from the area joined them to echo their concerns that patient safety is a concern.

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MNA Legislative Wrap-up May 23, 2014

23 May Minnesota State Capitol St Paul Minnesota

MNA Legislative Wrap-Up Minnesota_State_Capitol

The 2014 session of the Minnesota Legislature was a success for nurses and working families. Minnesota’s growing economy produced a $1.2 billion budget surplus in 2014, allowing Governor Dayton and the legislature to deliver middle class tax relief and new investments in our schools and our economy.

Minnesotans have seen remarkable progress over the past two years following some of the most productive, efficient legislative sessions in recent memory. Much of that progress will affect patients, working families and nurses.

Health and Human Services Policy Omnibus Bill: Signed into Law

The Governor signed the package of health policy bills (HF2402) into law. Several MNA priorities were included in the bill.

 

  • Health Professionals Services Program (HPSP):

o   Requires health licensing boards to temporarily suspend a health professional license for 30 days and complete a disciplinary investigation during that time, if they receive a report from HPSP that the regulated person has engaged in conduct that might cause risk to the public and the board has probable cause to believe their continued practice presents an imminent risk of harm to the public.

o   Allows the 30 day temporary suspension to be lifted if the board does not complete their investigation by then, unless the regulated person requests a delay.

o   Requires all health licensing boards to stay in HPSPS until July 1, 2015.

o   Requires employers to report any knowledge of drug diversion by a regulated health professional to that persons licensing board unless the knowledge was obtained in the course of a professional-patient relationship or because of the person’s participation in HPSP.

o   MNA supported this legislation to protect patient safety and to protect the privacy and health of nurses with substance use disorder who are working to preserve their licenses and careers.

  • E-cigarettes:

o   Bans the sale of e-cigarettes from kiosks and vending machines.

o   Requires child-resistant packaging to prevent the dangerous ingestion of nicotine by children.

o   Bans the use of e-cigarettes in publicly-owned buildings.

o   Local communities can implement more restrictive regulations on e-cigarettes if they wish.

o   MNA supports restrictions on e-cigarettes since the long term health effects are unknown.

 

Public Employment Relations Board: Signed into Law  

On May 9th, the Governor signed into law a bill to establish a Public Employment Relations Board (HF3014). This legislation will create a board to decide Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) claims involving public employees, which includes many MNA nurses at public municipal or county hospitals (known in statute as Charitable Hospitals). Under current law, public employers and employees must litigate ULP claims in district court-a cumbersome and expensive process. MNA supported this bill because the PERB will create a process that saves employers and employees money and would mirror the ULP process in the private sector.

 

APRN Bill: Signed into Law

Governor Dayton signed into law a bill to allow Advance Practice Registered Nurses to practice to the full extent of their scope (SF511). The law gives full practice authority to Certified Nurse Midwives, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Practitioners and Clinical Nurse Specialists. Beginning January 1, 2015, APRNs will be able to practice independently. The new law limits, however, CRNA’s who will continue to require a collaborative management agreement with a physician to practice pain management.

 

This law represents years of work by advocates for APRNs, and MNA was proud to support this effort.

 

Steve’s Law: Signed into Law

Governor Dayton signed into law a bill to broaden the availability of Naloxone (Narcan) for first responders to use in cases of opiate overdose (SF1900). The bill received near unanimous support along every stage of the legislative process. Members of both parties spoke eloquently about the disease of addiction and the great promise this bill has to save lives and give individuals suffering with substance use disorders a second chance. MNA proudly supports this bill, and we applaud the chief authors, Rep. Dan Schoen and MNA member Sen. Chris Eaton, for their work on this common-sense, live-saving legislation.

 

Medical Cannabis: Awaiting Governor’s Signature

Sen. Scott Dibble and Rep. Carly Melin, the authors of different bills to legalize medical marijuana, announced they had come to an agreement based on the House version of the bill, but with some changes that broaden access, while tightening restrictions to prevent misuse.

 

This bill will be the strictest and most regulated medical cannabis law in the country. Only patients with qualifying conditions such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, and seizures will be eligible. It does not allow smoking of marijuana. Instead, patients can access approved forms of medical cannabis such as liquid, pill, or vapor. The bill creates a patient registry to monitor the use of prescription cannabis as well as to evaluate the health effects. Governor Dayton has said he will sign the bill next week.

 

MNA supports legislation that would provide compassionate relief to seriously ill patients.

 

Budget Issues: Signed into Law

The Governor signed the Omnibus Supplemental Budget bill into law. There are several portions of the bill that will directly affect MNA members. Highlights of Health and Human Services portion:

 

  • Fully funded 5% rate increase for Home and Community Based Services Providers of which 80% is encumbered to go to employees in the form of wages and benefits.
  • Increased funding for mental health crisis intervention services.
  • Funding of State Operated Services and Minnesota Sex Offender Program salary supplement. The Governor had requested $11 million each year for 2015, 2016, and 2017 for a total of $33 million to maintain current salary agreements with employees of SOS and MSOP. The conference committee funded everything fully, except for the $1 million for MSOP in 2016 and $1 million for MSOP in 2017.  They also fully funded the Governor’s recommendation for court ordered expert reviews at MSOP of $3 million in 2015.
  • $75,000 for a health care workforce study. MNA will work to ensure that nurses are included in this study.
  • The study on chronic pain therapy treatment included in the APRN bill was funded at $75,000 for 2015.

 

Construction Projects: Signed into Law
The Capital Investment Bonding bill to fund construction projects included several MNA priorities. Highlights include:

  • $56.3 million for design, construction and remodeling of the Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter.
  • $7.4 million for design and remodeling of the Minnesota Sex Offender facility in St. Peter.
  • $2 million in asset preservation for veterans homes and memorials.
  • $18 million for a new health services intake at St. Cloud correctional facility.

 

Minimum Wage: Signed into Law
For the first time in a decade, Minnesota’s minimum wage is set to increase. An estimated 325,000 hard-working Minnesotans will get a raise to $9.50 by 2016 (HF2091). The minimum wage will be indexed to inflation in 2018 to keep up with the cost of living. MNA supported this effort because poverty is a public health as well as an economic issue.

Synthetic Drugs: Signed into Law

The Governor signed a bill prohibiting the sale of synthetic drugsinto law. MNA members actively advocated for tougher prohibitions on synthetic drugs and were vocal supporters of the bill. We thank Representative Eric Simonson for considering MNA’s input as he worked to protect both the public and medical personnel affected by those under the influence of synthetic drugs.

Women’s Economic Security Act: Signed into Law

The Governor signed into law the Women’s Economic Security Act(WESA) on Mother’s Day. The WESA is the most significant women’s rights legislation in years.

 

The Women’s Economic Security Act:

  • Allows mothers to stay in the workforce by expanding family leave and providing reasonable accommodations for pregnant and nursing employees.
  • Decreases the gender pay gap through the participation of women in high-wage, high-demand occupations in fields such as science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
  • Decreases the gender pay gap by reducing the “motherhood penalty” by requiring equal employment treatment regardless of “familial status.”
  • Addresses negative economic consequences of domestic violence, stalking, and sexual assault.
  • Enhances retirement security by considering a state retirement savings plan for those without an employer-provided option.

 

MNA supported this legislation.

MNA Legislative Update May 9, 2014

9 May Minnesota State Capitol St Paul Minnesota

MNA Legislative Update May 9, 2014

 

Public Employee Relations Board  Minnesota State Capitol St Paul Minnesota

On Monday the House voted to accept the changes the Senate made to bill to establish a Public Employee Relations Board (HF3014) last week. This legislation would create a board to decide Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) claims involving public employees, which includes many MNA nurses at public municipal or county hospitals (known in statute as Charitable Hospitals). Under current law public employees must litigate ULP claims in district court-a cumbersome and expensive process. The PERB bill would create a process that saves employers and employees money and would mirror the ULP process in the private sector.

 

Despite attempts by hospitals, an amendment to exempt Charitable Hospitals facilities failed. Another amendment to delay implementation of the PERB for Charitable Hospitals for one year also failed.

 

The bill will now go to the Governor for his signature.

 

APRN Bill

Last week the Senate unanimously passed Sen. Kathy Sheran’s bill (SF511) to allow Advance Practice Registered Nurses to practice to the full extent of their scope was heard on the Senate floor. Her bill would give full practice authority to Certified Nurse Midwives, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Practitioners and Clinical Nurse Specialists. The bill allows APRNs to practice independently, but does limit CRNA’s who will continue to require a collaborative management agreement with a physician to practice pain management.

 

On Thursday the House took up the Senate version of the bill. After many attempts to add more barriers to APRN practice, the House passed the bill 119-13 with an overwhelming bipartisan majority. MNA supports this bill to allow APRNs to practice to the top of their license and training. This bill represents years of work by advocates for APRNs, and we are glad to see it move on to the Governor for his signature.

 

Medical Marijuana

On Tuesday the Senate passed a bill legalizing the medical use of marijuana for serious medical conditions. With a vote of 48-18, a strong bipartisan majority showed support for the ability of patients will qualifying conditions such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, seizures and glaucoma to access relief from medical cannabis. The bill allows several means of taking medical marijuana, but prohibits smoking marijuana.

 

In the House, a narrower bill that does not legalize medical marijuana, but creates a clinical study that would allow some patients with qualifying conditions access to some types of medical cannabis, is being debated on the House floor today (Friday, May 9). At least 50 amendments are expected.

 

MNA supports legislation that would provide compassionate relief to seriously ill patients. While the Senate version of the bill would allow more patients to access treatment, and we prefer it to the House bill, we are supportive of any legislation that moves us closer to providing patients with access to relief.

 

Steve’s Law

The bill to broaden the availability of Naloxone (Narcan) for first responders to use in cases of opiate overdose (SF1900) passed the House unanimously on Wednesday. Members of both parties spoke eloquently about the disease of addiction and the great promise this bill has to save lives and give individuals suffering with substance use disorders a second chance. The bill is on its way to the Governor for his signature. MNA proudly supports this bill.

 

Women’s Economic Security Act

The House voted on the Conference Report (the version agreed on by both House and Senate negotiators) for the Women’s Economic Security Act (WESA) on Wednesday. The vote of 104-24 showed strong bipartisan support for the most significant women’s rights legislation in years. The Senate debated the bill on Thursday night, and an attempt to send the bill back to conference committee (which would have probably doomed it) failed on a vote of 33-32. After that attempt failed, the bill passed by a bipartisan vote of 43-24.

 

The Women’s Economic Security Act:

  • allows mothers to stay in the workforce by expanding family leave and providing reasonable accommodations for pregnant and nursing employees
  • Decreases the gender pay gap through the participation of women in high-wage, high-demand occupations in fields such as science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)
  • Decreases the gender pay gap by reducing the “motherhood penalty” by requiring equal employment treatment regardless of “familial status.”
  • Addresses negative economic consequences of domestic violence, stalking, and sexual assault
  • Enhances retirement security by considering a state retirement savings plan for those without an employer-provided option

 

MNA supports this bill, and many nurses contacted their legislators and should be proud of their part in passing this historic legislation. The bill will now go to the Governor for his signature.

 

Health and Human Services Policy Omnibus Bills

The House passed the Health and Human Services Policy Omnibus Bill on Monday by a vote of 86-46. Among many other provisions, the HHS Omnibus Bill contains language that MNA supports related to the Health Professionals Services Program (HPSP) and health professionals with substance use disorders. The bill strengthens and stabilizes the HPSP, which provides monitoring for health professionals with substance use disorders and other impairments. The bill also strengthens the ability of licensing boards to protect the public from providers who may pose a safety risk to patients, while protecting the privacy of providers.

The House HHS Omnibus Bill also bans the use of tanning beds by minors and regulates the use of e-cigarettes, proposals MNA supports.

The Senate took up their HHS Omnibus Bill on Thursday, and passed it with language regulating tanning and e-cigarettes intact. The Senate bill also contains language regarding the Health Professionals Services Program, but that language is less robust than the House version, and is more permissive regarding health licensing boards’ authority to suspend health professionals who pose a risk to patient safety.

Supplemental Budget Bills

The House and Senate are also working out the differences between their supplemental budget bills in a conference committee. In his supplemental budget recommendation, Governor Dayton included $11 million this year and $22 million in the next biennium to cover the cost of negotiated salary increases for staff working in 24-hour care facilities within State Operated Services and the Minnesota Sex Offender Program, which includes many MNA members. While neither the House nor the Senate has included this funding in their respective omnibus bills, we have spoken to conference committee members and about the serious consequences of not funding the State Operated Services salary supplement. We will continue to monitor the negotiations.

 

Synthetic Drugs

The Senate passed a bill prohibiting the sale of synthetic drugs by a vote of 53-1 on Wednesday. The House passed the companion bill last month, but there are significant differences between the two versions, so the bill will go to a conference committee. MNA supports this bill.

Nurses Week May 6-12

On Tuesday, the Governor issued a proclamation honoring nurses and declaring May 6-12 Nurses Week in Minnesota. In addition, Senators and Representatives who are also nurses spoke on the floor of both bodies to honor nurses. Thank you to Governor Dayton, Representative Erin Murphy, Representative Patti Fritz, Representative Karen Clark, Representative Jerry Hertaus, Senator Chris Eaton and Senator Mary Kiffmeyer for their words in honor of the profession of nursing. Visit the MNA blog to read their remarks and see photos from the Capitol.

 

From the MNA staff, Happy Nurses Week to all of you, and thank you for all you do as health care providers and as union members. We are honored to work for you.

 

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