Legislative Update, March 23, 2012

24 Mar

MNA Legislative Update, March 23, 2012

Today is the second legislative deadline of the session, which means that bills that haven’t passed out of committee by today are effectively dead. March 30 is the third deadline, by which all finance and appropriation bills have to pass the committee process. Because this session’s deadlines are looming, action at the Capitol has been fast and frequent this week.

Right to Work

Since passing the Senate Judiciary Committee by one vote last week, the so-called Right to Work amendment has stalled. It is because of your efforts that attempts by Right to Work supporters to get the bill heard on the House and Senate floors both failed again this week. If no action is taken by the end of the day today, we can breathe a sigh of relief and be fairly certain Right to Work is dead for this session. Nurses, you deserve a lot of the credit for this victory. You made hundreds of phone calls, sent emails and visited your legislators to oppose this bill, and all your grassroots action has worked.

Criminal Felony Neglect of Vulnerable Adult

SF1586 which would make neglect of a vulnerable adult a felony, passed the Senate floor unanimously on Monday. MNA worked with the authors of the bill to address concerns that nurses and health care workers not be punished for staffing or policy decisions made by their managers and supervisors. MNA supported the final version of the bill. In the House, the bill is making its way through the committee process and we expect it to be up for a floor vote soon.

National Nurse Licensure Compact

The Interstate Nurse Licensure Compact, which MNA opposes, completed the committee process in the Senate and is likely to reach the Senate floor for a vote very soon. However, it has not yet moved in the House. The Governor vetoed this legislation last session, and has confirmed to MNA that he remains opposed to it this session.

Health and Human Services Omnibus Bill

House HHS Chair Jim Abeler (R-Anoka) has introduced a Health and Human Services Omnibus bill that includes language that will keep the Willmar Community Transitional Services open. The Willmar facility had been slated for closure since last session. MNA nurses at Willmar and our lobbyists have been working all session to find a solution to keep this much-needed facility open.

Criminal Background Check

In cooperation with our allies from the Minnesota CRNAs and privacy advocate groups we defeated the flawed Criminal Background Check bill. However, with the leadership of Rep. Jim Abeler, we worked with the Minnesota Board of Nursing and other licensed health care professionals to amend another bill containing criminal background checks. The original version would have placed unnecessary burdens on all health care workers.  While we fully support Criminal Background Checks as an important tool to protect patient safety, MNA does not believe that nurses and health care professionals should be subjected to a duplicative, costly and inaccurate system.

Safe Staffing

MNA’s Staffing for Patient Safety Act is still alive as of this writing, but if it does not meet this evening’s deadline, we are exploring other ways to accomplish the goal of maximum patient limits for nurses. Please stay tuned!

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