2024 Legislative Session Recap

As the 2024 legislative session wound to a close on May 20, MNA continued to advocate for the Health Omnibus bill, which contained language from several of our original bills and other priorities shared across the labor movement. A full recap of the legislative session will be published in the summer issue of the MN Nursing Accent magazine. Below is an abbreviated recap of which wins we achieved this session and which bills did not make it across the finish line.

Legislative wins

PASSED RN Student Loan Forgiveness: This law builds on what was passed last session and provides ongoing funding for three years to nurses with three years or more experience; removes interest; and allows for waivers when nurse schedules change.

PASSED Hospital closures: This law will obligate hospitals to provide 182-days notice before a hospital or unit closure or service reduction, requires the community hearing by MDH take place in the affected community with a hybrid option, establishes strict fines for hospitals not complying, and gives local government entities the right of first refusal in taking over the facility when a hospital announces its closure.

PASSED Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA): This language came out of one of our larger bills, the Tax-Exempt Accountability Law (TEAL). This law creates new financial reporting requirements for hospitals, requiring them to show where they are spending their money when they claim they are providing a community benefit. It also makes their CHNAs public record.

PASSED Adverse Health Events Report: This law will enable the continuation of the Minnesota Department of Health’s annual report on preventable harm, injury, and death of patients without an end-date.

PASSED OLA Audit: A state audit will be conducted this year on nonprofit hospitals to look at their community benefits spending compared to the tax exemptions given to them, what percentage of community benefit spending is dedicated to charity care, and what changes could be made to nonprofit hospitals’ reporting to better address community health needs.

PASSED Surgical Smoke bill: Starting January 1, 2025, all hospitals, surgical facilities, or outpatient surgical centers that perform surgeries shall implement policies to prevent exposure to surgical smoke by requiring the use of a smoke evacuation system during any surgical procedure that is likely to generate surgical smoke.

DEFEATED Nurse Licensure Compact: The NLC would have disastrous effects on workers and the quality of care provided in Minnesota.

DEFEATED Hennepin Health bill: This bill would have stripped the County Board of Commissioners of its ability to take action regarding the hospital’s management and further distanced HCMC, a public entity, from the County Board.

DEFEATED Changes to the Paid Family Medical Leave law: The proposed changes would have made the first week of leave unpaid for workers.

Additional bills that passed include the Debt Fairness Act, Uber/Lyft bill, the U of M PELRA bill, and changes to Earned Sick and Safe time.

Bills that didn’t make it

Public interest review for unit closures: Would have required health systems to go through a public interest review before they could reduce or relocate services, which would have effectively stopped plans in the works at Unity/Mercy and North Memorial. Legislators on the Health & Human Services conference committee stated they would be open to exploring such proposals in the future.

Healthcare Employee Anti-retaliation Act: Would have helped protect healthcare workers from retaliation for responding to an unsafe assignment.

Workplace Violence Prevention for healthcare workers: Would have helped prevent violence in hospitals with an approach centered on trauma-informed care and de-escalation to keep nurses and patients safe.

The Hennepin County Medical Center bill: Would have implemented more budgetary oversight of HCMC by the Hennepin County Board of Directors.

Unemployment Insurance for Striking Workers: Would have provided unemployment insurance to striking workers after the first week on strike. The Labor coalition working on this bill has committed to bringing this bill back to the legislature next session.