By Eileen Gavin
MNA Political Organizer
There is a saying in politics. “If you are not at the table you are ON the table.” Don’t let that be case this legislative session. The 2016 Minnesota Legislative Session begins March 8 and is scheduled to adjourn May 23. While the physical landscape is literally different this year with the Capitol renovation still underway, the nature of the work remains the same. When your elected officials get back to work, business leaders, lobbyists, advocacy groups, and Minnesotans from all over the state will descend on the Capitol to advance their respective causes. Decisions are made at the Capitol that affect patients and the nursing profession, regardless of whether you are there. Nurses cannot let healthcare policy decisions be made without their input.
Ok, you may be asking, how can I get involved. The MNA Nurses Day on the Hill is next week March 14 & 15. If you are not registered, please do so now right here. If you can’t attend, there are plenty of opportunities to be involved. Day on the Hill is an important kickoff event for our legislative program, but it’s just the beginning. In the last year, MNA members have been extremely successful in building power at the Capitol through our weekly Days on the Hill. Each week a different facility comes to St. Paul to meet their local legislators and talk to them directly about issues that affect nurses’ values. We took Nurses Mini Days on the Hill to the Capitol last year every Wednesday, this year we will be there every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday!You or your entire unit can sign up here.
Why visit the Capitol so much? We know it’s not enough to go just one day a year, and it’s not enough for just one nurse to email their legislator. Legislators need to hear from hundreds of nurses. We need to flood their inboxes, we need to flood the Capitol hallways every week, we need to flood the lawmakers’ appointment books. We can eeven meet them for coffee in the summer or fall, not just once a year for lobby day. If we do, we build relationships with our legislators. They are in office representing and working for you.
It’s a sign of nurses’ power when a senator or representative knows you by name just because you called or emailed them. When you attend town hall meetings, they are more likely to look to you when they are taking a vote on a healthcare issue. Let them know you are the expert; you are the one to call when making a decision that affects the nursing practice. The workplace violence prevention bill passed last year, because nurses were at the Capitol every single week sharing their stories with decision makers. Now, when the sea of red enters the Capitol, lawmakers know the nurses are there and they’re not leaving until they are heard. Don’t be left out of this important process. Your hospital can adopt your very own Mini Day on the Hill, see the list below of hospitals that have already signed up. If you are interested in signing up contact Cameron Fure at Cameron.email@example.com. If you are interested in getting more involved in the legislative or political process, please call the MNA office and ask to speak to someone in the MNA Governmental Affairs Department.
Your voice DOES matter and can make a difference.