Nurses had a great and productive day on March 11 visiting the Capitol and their respective representatives and senators. Hundreds of nurses came out to educate lawmakers and without a specific bill to push in this short session, representatives and senators were happy just to have an education where they could learn about healthcare policy and the practice of nursing. Nurses brought many issues to lawmakers’ attention for the first time, which they said they appreciated. See below.
Health Care Professionals and Monitoring
There are now two bills moving through the Minnesota legislature. SF 1890 passed out of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee last week and is now headed for a committee hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee next Tuesday at noon. This is the bill MNA expressed some concerns about, including its automatic suspension of licenses and disclosure of confidential information about discharged nurses to the Board of Nursing.
HF 1898, however, passed the House Health and Human Services Committee on Tuesday night and is now headed for a date with the House State Government Finance Committee. This bill got a few amendments, which strengthened the bill’s abilities to monitor licensees and protect patient safety. In the House version, a licensee will be suspended only if the person poses an “imminent” risk to patients; licensees will be barred from practicing for 10 years if they’ve been convicted of a felony level criminal sexual conduct crime; and licensing boards will be required to educate licensees about the HPSP options.
Duluth Representative Erik Simonson’s bill to outlaw synthetic drugs and reduce the devastating effects these substances are having on patients is moving fast. The bill also passed the House and Human Services Committee and could be headed to the House floor very soon.
The push to raise the minimum wage to a living wage in Minnesota continues to be stalled. While legislators in the House and Senate agree with MNA that the wage should go up to $9.50/hour, the sticking point now is indexing. Senators are saying they don’t have enough support yet to pass the bill if the wage goes up in relation to inflation. Nurses have sent dozens of emails and letters to their state representatives and senator, and they’re being noticed. Keep the effort going to allow everyone in Minnesota to earn a livable wage that promotes a healthy lifestyle. Need some inspiration? Check out President Hamilton’s speech to supporters here: link.
A bill to regulate e-cigarettes just as the state classifies other smoking tools is moving through the Capitol. MNA has written to lawmakers with concerns that the marketing of “e-cigs” is aimed predominantly to children. HF 1931 extends tobacco regulation to e-cigarettes, specifically prohibiting them in schools and preventing the marketing and selling of e-cigs to minors.
State representatives and senators were surprised to hear about the introduction of a bill to require all healthcare workers to receive a flu vaccination each year. The measure struck a chord of overreach on personal freedoms to them, and nurses informed lawmakers that a mandatory flu shot actually could reduce flu fighting efforts. Studies show a comprehensive approach to battling the spread of the influenza virus works best, including other measures such as handwashing, regular germ-killing cleaners, and allowing workers to stay home when they’re sick. A mandatory flu shot would not be the silver bullet that combats the spread of the flu.