MNA Legislative Update, May 16, 2014

The Minnesota Legislature is constitutionally mandated to finish their work by next Monday, so there has been a lot of activity this week as lawmakers rush to finish important bills. Many MNA priorities have been signed into law or made significant progress this week. Work will continue tonight and possibly over the weekend, so watch your email for a final update from MNA next week.

Public Employee Relations Board: Signed into Law  

On May 9 the Governor signed into law a bill to establish a Public Employee Relations Board (HF3014). This legislation will create a board to decide Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) claims involving public employees, which includes many MNA nurses at public municipal or county hospitals (known in statute as Charitable Hospitals). Under current law, public employees must litigate ULP claims in district court-a cumbersome and expensive process. MNA supported this bill because the PERB will create a process that saves employers and employees money and would mirror the ULP process in the private sector.

APRN Bill: Signed into Law

Earlier this week Governor Dayton signed into law a bill to allow Advance Practice Registered Nurses to practice to the full extent of their scope (SF511). The law gives full practice authority to Certified Nurse Midwives, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Practitioners and Clinical Nurse Specialists. Beginning January 1, 2015, APRNs will be able to practice independently. The new law limits, however, CRNA’s who will continue to require a collaborative management agreement with a physician to practice pain management.

This law represents years of work by advocates for APRNs, and MNA was proud to support this effort.

Steve’s Law: Signed into Law

Last week Governor Dayton signed into law a bill to broaden the availability of Naloxone (Narcan) for first responders to use in cases of opiate overdose (SF1900). The bill received near unanimous support along every stage of the legislative process, with members of both parties speaking eloquently about the disease of addiction and the great promise this bill has to save lives and give individuals suffering with substance use disorders a second chance. MNA proudly supports this bill, and we applaud the chief authors, Rep. Dan Schoen and MNA member Sen. Chris Eaton, for their work on this common-sense, live-saving legislation.

Women’s Economic Security Act: Signed into Law

The Governor signed into law the Women’s Economic Security Act (WESA) on Sunday, Mother’s Day. The WESA is the most significant women’s rights legislation in years.

The Women’s Economic Security Act:

  • allows mothers to stay in the workforce by expanding family leave and providing reasonable accommodations for pregnant and nursing employees
  • Decreases the gender pay gap through the participation of women in high-wage, high-demand occupations in fields such as science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)
  • Decreases the gender pay gap by reducing the “motherhood penalty” by requiring equal employment treatment regardless of “familial status.”
  • Addresses negative economic consequences of domestic violence, stalking, and sexual assault
  • Enhances retirement security by considering a state retirement savings plan for those without an employer-provided option

MNA supported this legislation that will help address economic inequalities faced by women in the workforce.

Health and Human Services Policy Omnibus Bills: Awaiting Governor’s signature

On Thursday night, both the House and Senate passed the final package of health policy bills (HF2402) by wide bipartisan margins. Several MNA priorities were included in the bill.

  • E-cigarettes: the final bill bans the sale of e-cigarettes from kiosks and vending machines. It includes child-resistant packaging requirements to prevent the dangerous ingestion of nicotine by children. The bill bans the use of e-cigarettes in publicly-owned buildings. Unfortunately, use of e-cigarettes was not added to the Clean Air Act and treated like the use of traditional cigarettes. MNA supports restrictions on e-cigarettes since the long term health effects are unknown. Communities can implement more restrictive regulations on e-cigarettes if they wish.
  • Health Professionals Services Program (HPSP):

o   Requires health licensing boards to temporarily suspend a health professional license for 30 days and complete a disciplinary investigation within 30 days if they receive a report from HPSP that the regulated person has engaged in conduct that might cause risk to the public and the board has probable cause to believe their continued practice presents an imminent risk of harm to the public.

  • Allows the 30 day temporary suspension to be lifted if the board does not complete their investigation by then, unless the regulated person requests a delay.
  • Requires all health licensing boards to stay in HPSPS until July 1, 2015.
  • Requires employers to report any knowledge of drug diversion by a regulated health professional to that persons licensing board unless the knowledge was obtained in the course of a professional-patient relationship or because of the person’s participation in HPSP

Construction Projects: Awaiting Governor’s signature
The Capital Investment Bonding bill, including some MNA priorities, was passed by the House on Thursday night and the Senate on Friday morning. The bill now heads to the Governor. Highlights include:

  • $56.3 million for design, construction and remodeling of the Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter
  • $7.4 million for design and remodeling of the Minnesota Sex Offender facility in St. Peter
  • $2 million in asset preservation for veterans homes and memorials
  • $18 million for a new health services intake at St. Cloud correctional facility

For a copy of the project spreadsheet, see the link below:

Synthetic Drugs: Awaiting Governor’s signature

This week the House and Senate both passed the final version of the bill prohibiting the sale of synthetic drugs. It moves on to the Governor for his signature. MNA supports this bill.

Medical Marijuana

On Thursday Sen. Scott Dibble and Rep. Carly Melin, the authors of different bills to legalize medical marijuana, announced they had come to an agreement based on the House version of the bill, but with some changes that broaden access, while tightening restrictions to prevent misuse. Governor Dayton has said he will sign the bill into law.

This bill will be the strictest and most regulated medical cannabis law in the country. Only patients with qualifying conditions such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, and seizures will be eligible. (Intractable pain and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder were not included in the final agreement.) It does not allow smoking of marijuana. Instead, patients can access approved forms of medical cannabis such as liquid, pill or vapor. The bill creates a patient registry to monitor the use of prescription cannabis as well as to evaluate the health effects.

MNA supports legislation that would provide compassionate relief to seriously ill patients. While MNA had also supported the original Senate bill that would have allowed access to a broader number of patients, we believe this bill will bring relief to many Minnesotans. The agreement will need to be voted on by the full House and Senate before moving on to the Governor.

For more information:

Supplemental Budget Bills

The Conference Committee charged with working out the differences between the House and Senate Supplemental Budget Omnibus bills met on Tuesday night to unveil the Health and Human Services funding portion of the bill.  There are several portions of the bill that will directly affect MNA members. Highlights of Health and Human Services portion of the Omnibus Budget Bill:

  • Fully funded 5% rate increase for Home and Community Based Services Providers, of which 80% is encumbered to go to employees in the form of wages and benefits.
  • Increased funding for mental health crisis intervention services
  • Funding of State Operated Services and Minnesota Sex Offender Program salary supplement. The Governor had requested $11 million each year for 2015, 2016 and 2017 for a total of $33 million to maintain current salary agreements with employees of SOS and MSOP. The conference committee funded everything fully, except for the $1 million for MSOP in 2016 and $1 million for MSOP in 2017.  They also fully funded the Governor’s recommendation for court ordered expert reviews at MSOP of $3 million in 2015.
  • $75,000 for a health care workforce study. MNA will work to ensure that nurses are included in this study.
  • The study on chronic pain therapy treatment included in the APRN bill was funded at $75,000 for 2015.

For a copy of the full HHS spreadsheet, click here: