Legislative Update, Feb. 3, 2012

3 Feb

MNA Legislative Update February 3, 2012

 

Right to Work Bill Introduced

Yesterday Senator Dave Thompson (R-36, Lakeville) announced he will introduce a so-called “Right to Work” constitutional amendment. This legislation, backed by employers, will weaken unions, cut pay and benefits, and worst of all, will take away nurses’ power to advocate for our patients’ safety and our practice. “Right to Work” doesn’t create any jobs, and workers in Right to Work states actually earn significantly less than workers in collective bargaining states. Learn more about this legislation at the MNA website. While Governor Dayton strongly opposes Right to Work, he does not have the right to veto a constitutional amendment if it passes both houses of the Legislature. Instead, it would go on the November 2012 ballot.  MNA is continuing to meet with legislators of both parties to educate them on the disadvantages of passing this amendment.

 

Action: The Minneapolis and St. Paul Regional Labor Federations are both holding Right to Work briefings for all interested union members on February 8:

  • Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, 6:30 pm, 312 Central Ave, 2nd Floor, Minneapolis 55414. RSVP to adam@minneapolisunions.org or 612-222-5500.
  • St. Paul Regional Labor Federation, 6:00 pm, 411 Main Street, St. Paul, 55102. RSVP to kpeterson@stpaulunions.org or 651-222-3787, x18.

 

Hospital Privatization and Nurse Pensions

As the trend towards privatization of public sector hospitals continues, MNA members are being forced out of the Public Employee Retirement Association (PERA) system and into private sector retirement accounts.  Unfortunately, when members leave PERA, their benefit amount is frozen unless their public sector employer pays an augmentation rate to PERA prior to the takeover.  Because the augmentation rate can mean millions of dollars for local governments, this option is rarely utilized and our members end up with a frozen benefit.  MNA worked with Senator Julie Rosen (R-24, Fairmont) to author an amendment to lower the augmentation rate, making it easier for public sector hospitals to ensure employee pensions continue to grow, even after they leave PERA.  The amendment was heard by the Pension Commission on Tuesday evening and was laid over for possible inclusion in the omnibus pension bill.  We will continue to meet with legislators to ensure this important piece of legislation makes its way to the Governor’s office.

 

Legislation

  • Legislation to define the Community Paramedic services that are eligible for Medical Assistance reimbursement was introduced in the Senate by Senator Rosen (R-24, Fairmont) as SF 1543 and by Representative Mack (R-37A, Apple Valley) in the House as HF 2060. Click here to read MNA’s letter in opposition to this bill.
  • Last week’s update informed you about SF 1586, a bill which would make it a felony to intentionally neglect a vulnerable adult.  Although MNA supports this concept in principle, we are concerned that the language in its current form would have unintended consequences for nurses facing situations of short staffing.  The bill was heard in the Judiciary Committee on Thursday and laid over for further conversations.  We are continuing to meet with the bill authors and stakeholders to strengthen the language and protect nurses.
  • Representative Downey (R-41A, Edina) introduced a bill, HF 2033, requiring the Commissioner of Management and Budget to conduct a study comparing the compensation for public sector department staff to those in the private sector.  This bill perpetuates the myth that public employees are paid too much. State nurses, for example, make significantly less money than their counterparts in private hospitals.

 

MNA Nurses Day on the Hill
Nurses will be bringing patient advocacy from the bedside to the Capitol on Tuesday, February 28. We’ll brief you on the issues and make appointments for you to meet your legislators with other nurses from your area.

  • Monday, February 27, 2012 – Member Education Program, 5:00 to 9:00 p.m.
    Crowne Plaza Hotel, St. Paul
  • Tuesday, February 28, 2012 – Capitol Visits and Action, Start at 8:00 a.m., Action at 12:30 p.m.
    State Capitol and State Office Building, St. Paul

So much of patient safety and nursing practice policy is decided at the state capitol. If we don’t advocate for our patients and our profession, no one else will. You can find more information and sign up here.

Student Nurse Day on the Hill

Over 350 nursing students from across Minnesota came together on Thursday for Student Nurse Day on the Hill.  Students met MNA members who are leaders at the bedside, in the community and the Capitol. They heard from speakers about the importance of telling their personal stories to elected officials, and were briefed about the most important policy proposals affecting nursing practice. Special guests Representatives Jim Abeler (R-48B, Anoka) and Erin Murphy, RN (DFL-64A, St. Paul) spoke to students about building relationships with their elected officials and being effective advocates for their profession and their patients.

 

Precinct Caucuses

Tuesday, February 7 at 7:00 pm Minnesota’s political parties will hold precinct caucuses. This is a chance to discuss the issues with your neighbors, and help decide which candidates your party will support, and which policy positions your party will take.  Click here to find out where your party’s precinct caucus location is.

 

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