MNA Legislative Update, February 22, 2013

22 Feb

Standards of Care Act passes first committee

On Thursday, nurses packed the room for the first hearing of the Standards of Care Act, MNA’s legislation to establish standards for safe care for every Minnesota patient.

The bill was heard in the House Labor, Workplace and Regulated Industries Committee. Testifiers in favor were MNA President Linda Hamilton, Joe Howard, and MNA nurse from Essentia Miller-Dwan in Duluth and Naomi Freyholz a nurse from Sleepy Eye Medical Center. (The nurses at Sleepy Eye voted on Wednesday to join MNA. They chose to organize because of chronic unsafe staffing and retaliation against nurses who voice their concerns.) The hospital testifiers were the President of the Minnesota Hospital Association Lawrence Massa; Carolyn Wilson, President of University of Minnesota Medical Center Fairview; Sandra McCarthy, CNO for Essentia Health; Roger Lloyd, Nursing Manager at Essentia Health in Duluth; and Mary Pynn, HealthEast Vice President and Chief Nursing Quality Officer. The audience on one side of the room was filled with hospital lobbyists. On the other side of the room: a sea of red.

Video of Joe’s testimony

Video of Naomi’s testimony

Audio of the entire hearing  (approximately 1 hour, 40 minutes)

Key points from MNA’s testimony:

  • unsafe staffing leads to delayed care or mistakes, patient falls and other preventable conditions, and needless pain and suffering.
  • when nurses report unsafe staffing levels, they are told to “make do.”
  • the so-called “creative and flexible” approaches to staffing that the hospitals take include forcing nurses to work in areas outside their specialty or forcing them to work longer hours without enough sleep.
  •  safe staffing will save money by preventing readmissions within 30 days (which CMS will no longer reimburse for) and decreasing overtime costs.
  • this issue must be addressed with a statewide standard, rather than the bargaining table, because most Minnesota nurses are not represented by MNA and have no collective bargaining process.
  •  Visit the web site to read more details of why advancing Standards of Care legislation is critical to patient safety in Minnesota.

Comments from hospital administrators showed their continuing lack of understanding of the reality of nurse staffing, including these:

  • hospitals are best suited to make staffing decisions, not the government, and this bill would take away nurses’ decision-making ability.
  • They say they already use creative solutions to address staffing, and as a result, Minnesota already has the best quality of care in the country.
  • our legislation would be too expensive and would lead to layoffs and increased health care costs.

During the testimony for the hospitals, the Essentia CNO testified that she has not heard a single staffing issue and there is clear communication among staff and management.

After a lot of discussion, the bill passed 9-6. See below for a list of the committee members and how they voted.

Going forward, the bill will need to go through three or four more committees in the House, and three or four in the Senate. It will be a long road, and we need to keep telling our stories at the Capitol and keep talking to other nurses in the workplace.

Can you come to the Capitol for one Lobby Squad day to talk to legislators about the dire need for Standards of Care? (We will be there every Wednesday 11:00 am-1:00 pm, or you can work with Geri Katz to find another time that works for you.) We will meet at MNA for an up-to-the-minute briefing about the bill and then carpool to the Capitol for conversations with legislators.

If you can’t make it to the Capitol (and even if you can) please use the MNA Grassroots Action Center to contact your state senator and state representative to encourage them to support the Standards of Care Act (HF588/SF471).

Take a moment to celebrate the big accomplishment yesterday. MNA nurses should feel proud of the work you have done over the last seven years. Every unsafe staffing report, every legislator meeting, every nurse meeting got us to this point. It’s going to take a lot more work to pass this bill, but this was a huge achievement for nurses and patients.

Governor’s Budget hearings coming up

Governor Dayton’s proposed tax reform plan will be heard in the House Taxes Committee on Wednesday, February 27 at 7:00 pm. MNA supports Governor Dayton’s tax proposal, which raises revenues while making the tax system more fair for working families.

Two other tax proposals MNA supports, related to raising the cigarette tax, will be heard in Senate Tax Reform Division on February 28.

Minimum Wage bill hearings next week

The House Labor, Workplace and Regulated Industries Committee will hold the first hearing on a bill increasing the minimum wage on Wednesday, February 27 at 8:15 am.

Standards of Care Act vote in Labor, Workplace and Regulated Industries


  • Peter Fischer (DFL-43A, Maplewood) Sheldon Johnson (DFL-67B, St. Paul)Carolyn Laine (DFL-41B, Columbia Heights)
  • Sandra Masin (DFL-51A, Eagan)
  • Jason Metsa (DFL-6B, Virginia)
  • Michael Nelson (DFL-40A, Brooklyn Park)
  • Shannon Savick (DFL-27A, Wells)
  • Erik Simonson (DFL-7A, Duluth)
  • Mike Sundin (DFL-11A, Esko)


  • Mike Benson (R-26B, Rochester)
  • Joe Hoppe (R-47B)
  • Andrea Kieffer (R-53B, Woodbury)
  • Tim O’Driscoll (R-13B, Sartell)
  • Marion O’Neill (R-29B, Buffalo)
  • Mark Uglem (R-36A, Champlin)

If your legislator is a member of the committee, please use the MNA Grassroots Action Center to contact them and let them know your opinion of their vote.

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