Legislative Update April 15

17 Apr

MNA Legislative Update April 15


Compact Had Two Hearings This Week (SF230 – Gerlach/HF462 – Norton)

The Interstate Nurse Licensure Compact bill was heard in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on Monday, and in the House Government Operations Committee on Wednesday. In both cases MNA nurse leaders testified in opposition to the Compact because it will lower Minnesota’s high standards for nurses and put patients at risk.  In the Senate hearing, Senators Berglin, Higgins and Sheran (an RN herself) asked tough questions that highlighted some of the concerns with the Compact. In the House hearing, Representatives Hornstein, Simon and Winkler asked similar questions about the Compact’s shortcomings. In both cases the bills passed through the committees and are now headed to the Senate and House floors for a full vote.  The Compact language is also included in the Senate version of the Health and Human Services Omnibus bill. We will let you know when this bill is up for a floor vote. In the meantime, please take a moment and use the MNA Grassroots Action Center to ask your state representative and state senator to vote against the Compact.

Background information:

MNA’s fact sheet

Bill Text

Criminal Background Checks of Nurses (SF1053 – Sheran/ HF1087 – McElfatrick)

On Tuesday there was a hearing in the House Health and Human Services Reform committee on the Minnesota Board of Nursing (BON) legislation requiring criminal background checks and fingerprinting of all new applicants as well as a process for conducting these on current license holders. MNA supports criminal background checks as an important and necessary tool to ensure patient safety. But we question whether the BON needs this authority, since Minnesota law already requires criminal background checks and allows for fingerprints for nurses caring for vulnerable adults, which includes all nurses working in hospitals and long-term care.  Additionally Minnesota employers already are conducting background checks so this appears to be redundant and costly for the state of Minnesota. MNA also believes the bill goes too far in proposing a plan requiring fingerprints of all current license holders.

MNA leaders testified about our concerns with this bill, and because of questions raised by MNA and other advocates, the bill was sent out of committee with no endorsement. This means it neither passed nor failed, but was merely sent on to the Civil Law Committee.

The bill has not yet been heard in the Senate.

Background information
Bill text

Governor’s Tax Plan (SF925 – Marty/ HF1231 – Paymar)

On Wednesday, the House Taxes Committee heard the Governor’s tax plan, which raises taxes on the top 5% of earners in Minnesota as part of the solution to the state’s $5 billion deficit. MNA supports this bill, which addresses the fact that the wealthiest Minnesotans actually pay a smaller percentage of their income in state and local taxes than the rest of us, and have never been asked to sacrifice to solve our budget problems.  Dozens of people were lined up to testify on the bill, but the chair heard from just a few of them and then abruptly adjourned the hearing.  

Background information:
Bill Text

Budget Bills

MNA is monitoring several of the omnibus funding bills that affect nurses and health care:  Health and Human Services, State Government, and Public Safety. The House and Senate have each passed their own versions of those bills, and are now convening Conference Committees, which will work out any differences in the bills.  These bills include drastic cuts to health care programs (Health and Human Services omnibus bill) and attacks on public employees (State Government and Public Safety).

The Legislature will be on Easter-Passover break for most of next week, so there won’t be a legislative update. Conference Committees and budget negotiations will start up again when lawmakers return to the Capitol on the 26th. During the break, be on the lookout for your legislators, who will be back home in their districts. Many will be holding town hall meetings or office hours so they can connect with constituents. This is a perfect opportunity for you to speak to your elected officials about policies that affect nurses.

State Nurses at the Capitol

This week several State of Minnesota nurses came to the Capitol to talk to their legislators about the attacks on public employees and the importance of the care they provide in our state security hospital, regional treatment centers, community behavioral health hospitals, and Department of Corrections.  They had one-on-one conversations with their legislators, shared personal stories, and advocated on behalf of the nurses they work with and the patients they serve.

If any MNA member or group of members would like to come to the Capitol to talk to their legislators about policies affecting nurses, patients and working families, MNA staff can facilitate and join you. Please contact geri.katz@mnnurses.orgor call 651-414-2855.        

NNU’s Mainstreet Contract Campaign

National Nurses United, the national union that unites us with tens of thousands of nurses across the country, is kicking off a “Main Street Contract for the American People” campaign. Nurses know that working families did not cause the economic downturn, and we have sacrificed enough. It’s time for the wealthiest and the corporations pay their fair share, so that we all can have living wage jobs, guaranteed health care, high quality public schools, retirement security, the right to a voice in the workplace, good housing, protection from hunger, a fair tax system, and the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Stay tuned for more information about this campaign, and ways you can be active and make your voice heard.

MNA All-Nurse Union Meeting
Mark your calendars for the all-nurse union meeting: Every 3rd Tuesday at 11:00 a.m. & 5:00 p.m. Get details on the latest labor news, legislative alerts, community actions and other news impacting our workplaces and profession. Attend in St. Paul or online. More information at mnnurses.org.

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