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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.

 

MNA Legislative Update May 2, 2014

2 May Minnesota State Capitol St Paul Minnesota

Minnesota State Capitol St Paul Minnesota

MNA Legislative Update May 2, 2014

 

Public Employee Relations Board

A bill to establish a Public Employee Relations Board (HF3014) was passed by the full Senate on Monday. 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.

 

Many nurses contacted their senators last week asking them to oppose attempts to remove Charitable Hospitals from the bill, and we are pleased to report that an amendment to exempt those facilities failed. Another amendment to delay implementation of the PERB for Charitable Hospitals for one year also failed.

 

The companion bill was already passed by the House, and, next week, we anticipate the House will vote to concur with the Senate version of the bill, which would then go on to the Governor for his signature.

 

APRN Bill

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.

 

The bill passed unanimously, and we anticipate the House will vote to concur with the Senate language, which MNA supports over the House language.

 

Medical Marijuana

The bill to legalize medical marijuana prescribed by a physician for certain serious medical conditions (SF1641) passed the Senate State and Local Government Committee on Tuesday then passed Judiciary without recommendation on Wednesday. The Senate Health and Human Services Finance Division amended the bill today to prohibit smoking medical marijuana, but would still allow “vaping,” the inhaling of fumes through a charged liquid vaporizer.

 

On Thursday, Representative Carly Melin and House leadership announced a new medical marijuana proposal (SF2470) that would pave the way for clinical trials for patients with qualifying conditions such as seizures, cancer, HIV/AIDS, and glaucoma. Because the bill prohibits smoking marijuana for medicinal purposes, law enforcement is neutral; they have opposed other bills that allow smoking as well as other methods of using medicinal marijuana.

 

Today the House Rules Committee is hearing the compromise bill introduced by Rep. Melin. As of this writing they have not yet concluded their hearing.

 

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

 

Health and Human Services Policy Omnibus Bills

The Senate and House omnibus Health and Human Services Policy bills have been taken up by a conference committee to work out differences between the two. The bills both include language that MNA supports related to the Health Professionals Services Program and health professionals with substance use disorders.

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.

 

Nurses Week May 6-12

MNA nurses will be going to the Capitol the morning of Tuesday, May 6 for the kickoff to Nurses’ Week. We’ll meet at the MNA office at 9:00 am to carpool over to the Capitol. We anticipate the House and Senate will go into session around 10:00 or 11:00 am. As legislators enter the chambers, we will give out stickers saying “Nurses Care” then listen to speeches honoring nurses from the Galleries. Please email geri.katz@mnnurses.org if you can come on Tuesday morning.

 

MNA Government Affairs Commissioners and staff with State Representative

Joe Atkins at the Capitol on Wednesday.

MNA Legislative Update April 25, 2014

25 Apr Minnesota State Capitol St Paul Minnesota

Minnesota State Capitol St Paul Minnesota

MNA Legislative Update April 25, 2014

 

Public Employee Relations Board

 

A bill to establish a Public Employee Relations Board (HF3014) has already passed and will be heard by the full Senate on Monday. 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. 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.

 

We have learned that an amendment will be offered on Monday to remove Charitable Hospitals from this legislation. Nurses should have the same system as all other public employees. Use the MNA Grassroots Action Center to CALL OR EMAIL YOUR SENATOR TODAY to ask them to oppose any attempts to strip Charitable Hospitals from the bill.

 

State Employee Salary Supplement

 

The Governor recommended an increase in compensation funding for the Department of Human Service’s Direct Care and Treatment State Operated Services programs and the Minnesota Sex Offender Program. The programs are experiencing compensation pressures of negotiated salary increases and increased costs of employer-paid benefits for current employees. This increase would allow the programs to meet these increasing personnel costs and continue to deliver care to their clients.

 

This increase was not included in the House and Senate’s Health and Human Services omnibus bills. The Conference Committee to work out the differences in these bills is meeting now, and the Governor’s office is participating in the negotiations as well. We think there is still a chance for the funding to be included in the final package and will continue to lobby legislators about the importance of this funding.

 

Women’s Economic Security Act

 

On Wednesday, legislation to address discrimination and economic inequality that women face (HF2536) was passed by the full senate 51-14 on a bipartisan basis. It passed the House earlier this month and now moves on to a conference committee to work out differences between the House and Senate versions. The bill includes pay equity language, policies to protect pregnant and nursing mothers, and protection for domestic violence victims. MNA supports this legislation.

 

Nurse Licensure and Discipline

 

The bills proposing changes to the Health Professionals Services Program (HPSP) and how the Board of Nursing handles nurses with substance use disorders and drug diversion are moving through the legislative process (HF1898 and HF1604). Our priorities remain reflected in the bills – protecting patient safety, treating substance use disorder as a disease, encouraging nurses with substance use disorders to seek rehabilitation treatment, and protecting nurses’ private medical and legal information. The bills are moving in two ways: as stand-alone bills as well as parts of the larger Health and Human Services Omnibus bills, which have not been heard yet in either body.

 

Medical Marijuana

 

The bill to legalize medical marijuana prescribed by a physician for certain serious medical conditions (SF1641) was passed today in the Senate Health Human Services and Housing committee by a 7 to 3 vote. Next it moves on to the State and Local Government Committee. In the House (HF1818), it has been passed by the Health and Human Services Policy Committee and is waiting to be heard by the Government Operations Committee. MNA supports this bill.

 

State Employee Salary Supplement

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, including many MNA members. Unfortunately, neither the House nor the Senate has included this funding in their respective omnibus budget bills.

 

The House and Senate Omnibus Supplemental Budget bills will go to conference committee, and they will begin negotiating a final deal with the Governor over the next few weeks. MNA will continue to reach out to the committee members and leadership to advocate for this crucial funding.

 

 

 

MNA Legislative Update April 11, 2014

11 Apr Minnesota State Capitol St Paul Minnesota

MNA Legislative Update April 11, 2014

There was a lot of activity at the Capitol this week with several major pieces of legislation debated, passed, and signed into law. Many of these were priorities that MNA supports.

MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE
Status: Passed by House and Senate

On Monday morning, leaders of the House and Senate announced an agreement to raise Minnesota’s minimum wage (HF2091). The agreement will raise the wage to $9.50 over three years and include an automatic inflationary increase that allows workers to keep up with the cost of living. The final deal includes a provision allowing the Commissioner of Labor and Industry to suspend the inflationary increase in case of an economic downturn. The Senate passed the bill on Wednesday, and the House passed it on Thursday. Governor Dayton will sign the bill into law on Monday, April 14 at 2:30pm in a public ceremony in the State Capitol Rotunda. All Minnesotans are invited to attend the event.

WOMEN’S ECONOMIC SECURITY ACT
Status: Passed by House

The WESA (SF2050/HF2536), a package of bills to provide equal opportunities and pay for women, was passed by the full House on Wednesday with a wide bipartisan majority and was passed by the Finance Minnesota State Capitol St Paul MinnesotaCommittee in the Senate on Thursday. It contains provisions to:

  • require businesses contracting with the state to develop a pay equity plan
  • expand pregnancy and sick-leave benefits
  • protect women from workplace discrimination and domestic violence
  • encourage women to enter non-traditional and high-wage jobs; and
  • provide retirement security for women.

 

MNA supports this legislation. Women make up half the state’s workforce and providing them with equal opportunities and pay is critical to our state’s economic future.

 

SAFE AND SUPPORTIVE SCHOOLS
Status: Passed by House and Senate and signed into Law

The Safe and Supportive Schools (anti-bullying) bill (HF826) was debated on House Floor on Tuesday and into the wee hours of Wednesday morning. After twelve hours of debate, the bill passed, which will turn Minnesota’s anti-bullying policy from the weakest in the nation to one of the strongest. Governor Dayton signed the bill into law on Wednesday afternoon. MNA supported the bill. Bullying can have serious consequences on a student’s health as well as their ability to learn and succeed, and every child deserves to feel safe and supported at school.

STEVE’S LAW
Status: Passed by Senate

Steve’s Law (SF1900), aimed at preventing deaths from opiate overdose, would increase first responder access to Naloxone (aka Narcan) an opioid inhibitor, which has been shown to increase a patient’s chances of survival. The bill is authored by Sen. Chris Eaton, an RN and MNA member, and passed the Senate floor unanimously on Tuesday. The bill now moves on to the House, where we anticipate it will also pass. We support this bill because it has the potential to reduce the high number of heroin overdose deaths.

SYNTHETIC DRUG BAN
Status: Passed by House

The bill to outlaw the sale of synthetic drugs (HF2446) passed the House floor unanimously on Wednesday. It now moves on to the Senate, where we expect it will pass. MNA supports this bill to address a serious public health concern.

PUBLIC EMPLOYEE RELATIONS BOARD
Status: Passed by House

A bill to create a Public Employee Relations Board (HF3014) to handle unfair labor practice charges from public employees, including MNA members in charitable hospitals, was passed by the House on Monday night. The bill then went to the Senate and was passed by the Finance Committee on Wednesday. The bill will move next to the Senate floor for a vote.

Many of MNA’s other legislative priorities are still moving through the legislative process:

State Employee Salary Supplement

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, including many MNA members. Unfortunately, neither the House nor the Senate has included this funding in their respective omnibus budget bills.

 

The House and Senate Omnibus Supplemental Budget bills will go to conference committee, and they will begin negotiating a final deal with the Governor over the next few weeks. MNA will continue to reach out to the committee members and leadership to advocate for this crucial funding.

 

5% Campaign

Funding to give a 5 percent increase to long term care workers in home and community based facilities and intermediate care facilities for those with developmental disabilities was included in both the House and Senate Health and Human Services omnibus bills. The bills include language that would mandate the majority of the funds go directly to workers. We expect this will be a part of the final Health and Human Services finance package.

Nurse Licensure and Discipline

The bills proposing changes to the Health Professionals Services Program (HPSP) and how the Board of Nursing handles nurses with substance use disorders and drug diversion (HF1898 and HF1604) are moving through the legislative process. Our priorities remain reflected in the bills: protecting patient safety, treating substance use disorder as a disease, encouraging nurses with substance use disorders to seek rehabilitation treatment, and protecting nurses’ private medical and legal information.

APRN Coalition Bill

A bill to enact the APRN consensus model (SF511) passed the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday and will move on to a vote on the Senate floor. The bill recognizes advanced practice registered nursing as an independent practice under the regulatory authority of the Board of Nursing. It would eliminate unnecessary legislative and administrative barriers to APRN practice. MNA supports this bill because it would help ease the shortage of primary care providers and would allow APRNs to practice at the top of their scope.

 

Spring Break

The legislature will be on break from April 11-22. There will be no legislative update next Friday. For those of you who celebrate, best wishes for Easter and Passover from MNA.

MNA Legislative Update April 5, 2014

5 Apr Minnesota State Capitol St Paul Minnesota

MNA Legislative Update April 5, 2014Minnesota State Capitol St Paul Minnesota

Minimum Wage

Legislative leaders are still in discussions about raising the minimum wage (HF92). Both the House and Senate agree on raising the wage to $9.50, but only the House currently supports including an annual inflationary increase in the legislation, called indexing, that allows minimum wage workers to keep up with the rising costs of food, housing, and transportation. Last week the Senate introduced a bill that would have asked the voters to decide on the minimum wage and inflationary increases, but this week the author, Sen. Ann Rest, withdrew the bill. MNA supports an increased minimum wage with an automatic inflationary increase so low wage workers can catch up and keep up.

Please use the MNA Grassroots Action Center to contact your Senator and ask him or her to support an increased and indexed minimum wage.

Synthetic Drugs

Rep. Erik Simonson’s bill to outlaw synthetic drugs (HF2446) has passed through many committees already and passed the House Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday and will move on to a floor vote. Senate companion (SF2028) is waiting for a hearing in Finance Committee, which is probably the last committee stop before a floor vote. MNA supports this bill as an important step in reducing the impact of synthetic drugs on our communities.

Public Employee Relations Board

A bill to establish a Public Employee Relations Board (HF3014)is moving as legislators on the House Ways and Means Committee passed it on Tuesday. The Senate Finance Committee will hear it next week. The House Ways and Means Committee amended the bill to include employees of charitable hospitals, including many MNA nurses. This legislation creates a board where public employees could bring unfair labor practice complaints, rather than bringing them to district court, which would mirror the private sector process. Since the district court process is cumbersome and expensive, this new board would save employers and employees significant amounts of money.

Women’s Economic Security Act

Legislation to address discrimination and economic inequality that women face (HF2536) was passed by the House Ways and Means committee on Wednesday and is on the way to the House for a floor vote. In the Senate, we are still waiting for a floor vote to be scheduled. MNA supports this legislation because women make up half the state’s workforce and providing them with equal opportunities and pay is critical to our state’s economic future.  Anti-Bullying Bill

The full Minnesota Senate voted on the Safe and Supportive Schools bill (HF826) on Thursday. After six hours of debate and many amendments from opponents, the bill passed. It now goes back to the House for a final vote, which could happen early next week.

Minnesota currently has the weakest anti-bullying law in the country. MNA supports the bill, which will provide schools with the tools to prevent and intervene in cases of bullying so that all of our students feel safe and supported when they come to school.

State Employee Salary Supplement

The Governor recommended an increase in compensation funding for the Department of Human Service’s Direct Care and Treatment State Operated Services programs and the Minnesota Sex Offender Program. The programs are experiencing compensation pressures of negotiated salary increases and increased costs of employer-paid benefits for current employees. This increase would allow the programs to meet these increasing personnel costs and continue to deliver care to their clients.

This increase was not included in the House and Senate’s Health and Human Services omnibus bills. We’re monitoring negotiations about these and continuing to talk to legislators about the need for this funding, and we think there is still a chance for the funding to be included in the final package.

5% Campaign

Funding to give an increase to long term care workers who do not work in nursing homes was included in both the House and Senate Health and Human Services omnibus bills. The bills include language that would mandate the majority of the funds go directly to workers. We expect this will be a part of the final Health and Human Services finance package.

Nurse Licensure and Discipline

The bills proposing changes to the Health Professionals Services Program (HPSP) and how the Board of Nursing handles nurses with substance use disorders and drug diversion are moving through the legislative process (HF1898 and HF1604) . Our priorities remain reflected in the bills – protecting patient safety, treating substance use disorder as a disease, encouraging nurses with substance use disorders to seek rehabilitation treatment, and protecting nurses’ private medical and legal information.

Community EMT

MNA was very concerned about legislation that would create a Community Emergency Medical Technician position that would be reimbursed under Medical Assistance (HF3288/SF2862). The role of the Community EMT would be to provide interventions intended to prevent avoidable ambulance transportation or emergency department use. This could include the performance of minor medical procedures, initial assessments within the Community EMT Scope of Practice, care coordination, diagnosis related to patient education and chronic disease management monitoring. While we recognize that there are gaps in our medical system, MNA opposed this legislation because Community EMTs would not be fully trained in nursing care, therefore not suitable to provide this type of care to the community. This new role could encourage a decrease in public health nursing, an area that is already facing a shortage. We raised these concerns with legislators, and the bill does not appear to be moving this session.

 

 

Nursing Students Connect Practice and Policy

3 Apr 2014 student day on the hill

2014 student day on the hillOn Thursday, April 3, for the seventh consecutive year, the Minnesota Nurses Association hosted students from nursing schools throughout the state for a lesson in advocacy that takes them beyond their bedside responsibilities.

350 students and instructors, representing 14 different schools of nursing attended the day-long event that kicked off with a morning meet & greet with MNA members leaders.  A comprehensive orientation followed, providing students insights about policy issues facing legislators in which nurses have a keen interest, including Nurse Licensing, Monitoring and Discipline; Minimum Wage; Mandatory Flu Vaccine; Department of Health Study of Staffing and Patient Outcomes; and Health Care for All.

The students were inspired by MNA’s Chairperson for its Commission on Governmental Affairs, Mary Turner, RN who encouraged them to become nurse activists. “I know I have influenced a legislator’s perspective,” said Turner.  “I can change a vote. I know I have the power to inspire and champion a law to protect my practice and make my patients safer. All because I talk to my legislator – who represents the neighborhoods and families where I live.”

A panel of former legislators and a Deputy Commissioner also provided valuable hands-on tactical advice for approaching legislators.  Especially unique was the fact this panel consisted of nurse role models – former Representative Maria Ruud, RN, CNP, along with Diane O’Conner, RN, formerly MNA’s lobbyist and Director of Nursing Practice and currently Deputy Commissioner of Higher Education.  Rounding out the panel was former Representative Jeremy Kalin who served with Ruud in the Minnesota House from 2006 – 2010.

Justin Ettl, a student at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, believes that attending the program will benefit his patients and help him to become a better nurse.  “This experience gives us the opportunity to get involved with the legislature and really get our voices heard,” said Ettl.

For Jessica Spencer who graduates from St. Cloud State University in May, speaking up to elected officials is just as important as speaking up at work.  “It’s important to have a nurse on board to help advocate for patient safety,” said Spencer.  “What we do here and now reflects on their health care for the future.”

Andrea Nyquist, also from St. Cloud State, was impressed by the power of collective action embodied in the Minnesota Nurses Association.  “I love seeing how nurses work together to get things done,” she said.

Schools represented at MNA’s 2014 Student Day on the Hill were:

  • Anoka Ramsey Community College Cambridge Campus
  • Bemidji State University
  • Bethel University – Graduate Program
  • Century Community College
  • College of St Benedict/St. John University
  • Hibbing Community College
  • Metropolitan State University
  • Minnesota State College
  • MSU – Mankato
  • Presentation College
  • Ridgewater College
  • Riverland Community College
  • St Catherine’s University
  • St Cloud State University

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The Power of Nurses at Day on the Hill: Legislators drop mandatory flu vaccine bill

1 Apr
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Nurses meet with mandatory flu vaccine author Rep. Tom Huntley

Minnesota legislators introduced a bill (HF2415/SF2212)to require mandatory flu vaccination for all health care workers. At MNA’s Nurses Day on the Hill on March 11, nurses raised these issues with their respective representatives and senators, including the bills’ sponsors, and brought forward enough concerns that the authors and legislative leaders agreed that the bill should not move forward this year. It is very unusual for a bill’s author to change their mind about an issue after a bill has been introduced, and, to our knowledge, this is the first MNA issue to be withdrawn in recent memory.

 

While MNA considers vaccinations one important public health tool and encourages nurses to consider vaccination as a means of protecting themselves and their patients, we oppose attempts to legally mandate vaccines. Mandatory vaccination alone is not sufficient to protect patients and staff and control the spread of influenza. Nurses raised these concerns with legislators:

 

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Nurses meet with House Speaker Rep. Paul Thissen.

1)     Mandatory vaccination is a single pronged approach which does not apply the most effective level of protection against the spread of infection

  • Vaccination alone does not ensure patient safety. Overreliance on a vaccine that is only 62 percent effective[i] puts patient and nurse health at risk.
  • “Social distancing” or isolation, i.e. staying home when healthcare workers are sick is a much more effective means of controlling the spread of influenza. Unfortunately, hospitals discipline nurses for using sick time, and many other workers have no sick time at all, which creates a culture that coerces them into working sick and regularly exposing patients to contagious illnesses.
  • Special engineering controls and triaging patients to an infectious containment area are also much more effective measures hospitals do not regularly utilize or enforce.
  • A paramount concern for patient and worker safety is for hospitals to provide adequate staffing that allows nurses necessary time to time to gown, glove, mask, and hand wash sufficiently as they move between patients.
Nurses gather outside the Capitol after all day meetings with legislators.

Nurses gather outside the Capitol after all day meetings with legislators.

2)     Vaccines can result in illness and injuries that are not compensable by workers compensation

  • Serious illness and injury can occur from a flu vaccination and, if mandated, it should be a covered event under worker’s compensation. Workers Compensation currently does not compensate for vaccination illness or injury.

3)     Mandatory Vaccination infringes on nurses’ rights to collective bargaining and privacy

  • Mandatory vaccination for nurses would be a term and condition of employment or mandatory subject of bargaining, which must be negotiated with MNA members and other unionized workers.
  • Some hospitals require non-vaccinated employees to wear surgical masks, which is a violation of the employee’s right to privacy and ineffective at protecting patients and workers from airborne flu transmission. Employees should not be required to disclose personal medical information by requiring them to wear a special tag indicating their vaccination status or requiring the employee to provide medical information on a declination form.
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More than a hundred nurses made the journey to St Paul from across the state of Minnesota for Day on the Hill 2014.

The battle against the flu never stops, and the issue of mandated vaccinations will likely return again. MNA believes future attempts to address the spread of flu should include:

  • a voluntary, free and accessible vaccination program;
  • paid sick time for all workers and no discipline for using sick time;
  • broader infection control measures to limit the spread of illness;
  • a requirement that the Workers Compensation Advisory Council to consider vaccination-related injury or illness a covered and compensable event.

 

[i] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, January 18, 2013

MNA Legislative Update March 28, 2014

28 Mar Minnesota State Capitol St Paul Minnesota

Minnesota State Capitol St Paul Minnesota Nurse Licensing, Monitoring and Discipline
The bills proposing changes to the Health Professionals Services Program (HPSP) and how the Board of Nursing handles nurses with substance use disorders and drug diversion are moving through the legislative process. Our priorities remain reflected in the bills – protecting patient safety, treating substance use disorder as a disease, encouraging nurses with substance use disorders to seek rehabilitation treatment, and protecting nurses’ private medical and legal information.

Minimum Wage
The conference committee working on a bill to increase the minimum wage is still hung up on the issue of an automatic inflationary increase for low-wage workers (“indexing”). While both the House and Senate negotiators agree on raising the wage to $9.50 an hour, only the House has proposed to index the wage to inflation, meaning wages for minimum-wage workers would increase based on cost of living increases.

The Senate has repeatedly rejected the concept of indexing the wage. Its latest proposal is to have the voters decide by putting the question of indexing on the ballot as a constitutional amendment. A bill reflecting that proposal was heard in the Senate Jobs Committee this morning and passed on a voice vote. It goes next to the Rules Committee.

MNA is supportive of raising the wage and indexing it to inflation to low-wage workers can catch up and keep up while lifting their families out of poverty. Low-wage workers have waited long enough, and it’s time for legislators to govern. By raising the wage and indexing future increases to inflation, lawmakers can keep politics out of the minimum wage once and for all.

Call to Action: use the MNA Grassroots Action Center to contact your senator and ask him or her to do the job they were elected to do: govern. It’s time to raise the wage and index it to inflation.

5% Campaign
Advocates for long term care workers not working in nursing homes are seeking a 5% increase to match the rate increase nursing home workers received last session. Much like the legislation giving nursing home workers an increase, these long term care workers are also proposing that 75% of the increase be earmarked for compensation of direct care workers. In addition, the employer must come to an agreement about the distribution of funds with the union that represents the workers,if the workers have a collective bargaining agreement.

This increase for long term care workers was included in the House Health and Human Services Finance Bill, which was introduced on Wednesday. We anticipate the Senate will introduce its HHS Finance bill early next week, and we will be watching to see if the increase is included.

State Employee Salary Supplements
The Governor recommended an increase in compensation funding for the Department of Human Service’s Direct Care and Treatment State Operated Services programs and the Minnesota Sex Offender Program. The programs are experiencing compensation pressures due to negotiated salary increases, as well as increased costs of employer-paid benefits for current employees. This increase would allow the programs to meet these increasing personnel costs and continue to deliver care to their clients.

We were disappointed that the House Health and Human Services Finance Omnibus Bill did not include these funds. We are waiting for the Senate’s omnibus bill to be released next week to learn if the funds are included there. MNA is concerned about the situation, and expressing to key legislators how important this funding is to state nurses and other state employees. We will continue to monitor the situation.

Tax Cuts
Last Friday (after the MNA Legislative Update went out) the Governor signed the tax cut bill that was paid for by the $1.2 billion budget surplus. The bill cut $508 million in taxes, some of which will be available immediately during this filing season. The bill cut $230 million in taxes for middle class families, including the elimination of the “marriage penalty” an expansion of the Working Family Tax Credit, and an increase in child care tax credits for 25,000 families. The bill also includes a tax cut for students and parents for tuition and student loan interest. More information about these tax cuts is available on the Governor’s website.

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