MNA Legislative Update April 25, 2014
Public Employee Relations Board
A bill to establish a Public Employee Relations Board (HF3014) has already passed and will be heard by the full Senate on Monday. This legislation would create a board to decide Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) claims involving public employees, which includes many MNA nurses at public municipal or county hospitals. Under current law public employees must litigate ULP claims in district court-a cumbersome and expensive process. The PERB bill would create a process that saves employers and employees money and would mirror the ULP process in the private sector.
We have learned that an amendment will be offered on Monday to remove Charitable Hospitals from this legislation. Nurses should have the same system as all other public employees. Use the MNA Grassroots Action Center to CALL OR EMAIL YOUR SENATOR TODAY to ask them to oppose any attempts to strip Charitable Hospitals from the bill.
State Employee Salary Supplement
The Governor recommended an increase in compensation funding for the Department of Human Service’s Direct Care and Treatment State Operated Services programs and the Minnesota Sex Offender Program. The programs are experiencing compensation pressures of negotiated salary increases and increased costs of employer-paid benefits for current employees. This increase would allow the programs to meet these increasing personnel costs and continue to deliver care to their clients.
This increase was not included in the House and Senate’s Health and Human Services omnibus bills. The Conference Committee to work out the differences in these bills is meeting now, and the Governor’s office is participating in the negotiations as well. We think there is still a chance for the funding to be included in the final package and will continue to lobby legislators about the importance of this funding.
Women’s Economic Security Act
On Wednesday, legislation to address discrimination and economic inequality that women face (HF2536) was passed by the full senate 51-14 on a bipartisan basis. It passed the House earlier this month and now moves on to a conference committee to work out differences between the House and Senate versions. The bill includes pay equity language, policies to protect pregnant and nursing mothers, and protection for domestic violence victims. MNA supports this legislation.
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 are moving through the legislative process (HF1898 and HF1604). 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. The bills are moving in two ways: as stand-alone bills as well as parts of the larger Health and Human Services Omnibus bills, which have not been heard yet in either body.
The bill to legalize medical marijuana prescribed by a physician for certain serious medical conditions (SF1641) was passed today in the Senate Health Human Services and Housing committee by a 7 to 3 vote. Next it moves on to the State and Local Government Committee. In the House (HF1818), it has been passed by the Health and Human Services Policy Committee and is waiting to be heard by the Government Operations Committee. MNA supports this bill.
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.