MNA Legislative Update April 11, 2014
There was a lot of activity at the Capitol this week with several major pieces of legislation debated, passed, and signed into law. Many of these were priorities that MNA supports.
MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE
Status: Passed by House and Senate
On Monday morning, leaders of the House and Senate announced an agreement to raise Minnesota’s minimum wage (HF2091). The agreement will raise the wage to $9.50 over three years and include an automatic inflationary increase that allows workers to keep up with the cost of living. The final deal includes a provision allowing the Commissioner of Labor and Industry to suspend the inflationary increase in case of an economic downturn. The Senate passed the bill on Wednesday, and the House passed it on Thursday. Governor Dayton will sign the bill into law on Monday, April 14 at 2:30pm in a public ceremony in the State Capitol Rotunda. All Minnesotans are invited to attend the event.
WOMEN’S ECONOMIC SECURITY ACT
Status: Passed by House
The WESA (SF2050/HF2536), a package of bills to provide equal opportunities and pay for women, was passed by the full House on Wednesday with a wide bipartisan majority and was passed by the Finance Committee in the Senate on Thursday. It contains provisions to:
- require businesses contracting with the state to develop a pay equity plan
- expand pregnancy and sick-leave benefits
- protect women from workplace discrimination and domestic violence
- encourage women to enter non-traditional and high-wage jobs; and
- provide retirement security for women.
MNA supports this legislation. Women make up half the state’s workforce and providing them with equal opportunities and pay is critical to our state’s economic future.
SAFE AND SUPPORTIVE SCHOOLS
Status: Passed by House and Senate and signed into Law
The Safe and Supportive Schools (anti-bullying) bill (HF826) was debated on House Floor on Tuesday and into the wee hours of Wednesday morning. After twelve hours of debate, the bill passed, which will turn Minnesota’s anti-bullying policy from the weakest in the nation to one of the strongest. Governor Dayton signed the bill into law on Wednesday afternoon. MNA supported the bill. Bullying can have serious consequences on a student’s health as well as their ability to learn and succeed, and every child deserves to feel safe and supported at school.
Status: Passed by Senate
Steve’s Law (SF1900), aimed at preventing deaths from opiate overdose, would increase first responder access to Naloxone (aka Narcan) an opioid inhibitor, which has been shown to increase a patient’s chances of survival. The bill is authored by Sen. Chris Eaton, an RN and MNA member, and passed the Senate floor unanimously on Tuesday. The bill now moves on to the House, where we anticipate it will also pass. We support this bill because it has the potential to reduce the high number of heroin overdose deaths.
SYNTHETIC DRUG BAN
Status: Passed by House
The bill to outlaw the sale of synthetic drugs (HF2446) passed the House floor unanimously on Wednesday. It now moves on to the Senate, where we expect it will pass. MNA supports this bill to address a serious public health concern.
PUBLIC EMPLOYEE RELATIONS BOARD
Status: Passed by House
A bill to create a Public Employee Relations Board (HF3014) to handle unfair labor practice charges from public employees, including MNA members in charitable hospitals, was passed by the House on Monday night. The bill then went to the Senate and was passed by the Finance Committee on Wednesday. The bill will move next to the Senate floor for a vote.
Many of MNA’s other legislative priorities are still moving through the legislative process:
State Employee Salary Supplement
In his supplemental budget recommendation, Governor Dayton included $11 million this year and $22 million in the next biennium to cover the cost of negotiated salary increases for staff working in 24 hour care facilities within State Operated Services and the Minnesota Sex Offender Program, including many MNA members. Unfortunately, neither the House nor the Senate has included this funding in their respective omnibus budget bills.
The House and Senate Omnibus Supplemental Budget bills will go to conference committee, and they will begin negotiating a final deal with the Governor over the next few weeks. MNA will continue to reach out to the committee members and leadership to advocate for this crucial funding.
Funding to give a 5 percent increase to long term care workers in home and community based facilities and intermediate care facilities for those with developmental disabilities was included in both the House and Senate Health and Human Services omnibus bills. The bills include language that would mandate the majority of the funds go directly to workers. We expect this will be a part of the final Health and Human Services finance package.
Nurse Licensure and Discipline
The bills proposing changes to the Health Professionals Services Program (HPSP) and how the Board of Nursing handles nurses with substance use disorders and drug diversion (HF1898 and HF1604) are moving through the legislative process. Our priorities remain reflected in the bills: protecting patient safety, treating substance use disorder as a disease, encouraging nurses with substance use disorders to seek rehabilitation treatment, and protecting nurses’ private medical and legal information.
APRN Coalition Bill
A bill to enact the APRN consensus model (SF511) passed the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday and will move on to a vote on the Senate floor. The bill recognizes advanced practice registered nursing as an independent practice under the regulatory authority of the Board of Nursing. It would eliminate unnecessary legislative and administrative barriers to APRN practice. MNA supports this bill because it would help ease the shortage of primary care providers and would allow APRNs to practice at the top of their scope.
The legislature will be on break from April 11-22. There will be no legislative update next Friday. For those of you who celebrate, best wishes for Easter and Passover from MNA.