APRN, E-cigarette Bills Still Contentious at Capitol

[MMA News Now, March 27, 2014] With the legislative session nearly half over, most of the MMA’s top priorities are making their way to the full floor of each body. A couple, in particular - advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) and e-cigarettes - remain contentious.   

Negotiations continue between representatives for nursing and physicians. On March 25, a group of pain doctors held a press conference at the Capitol to express their concerns with certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) gaining the ability to provide interventional pain injections. That same day, Rep. Tina Liebling (DFL-Rochester), who has championed the physicians’ position on the issue, published an op-ed in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

The Senate’s version of a bill that would place stricter regulations on e-cigarettes passed through the Senate Commerce Committee on March 24. The next day, Gov. Mark Dayton spoke out against the portion of the legislation that would restrict e-cigarette use indoors, telling the Star Tribune that “we came down pretty hard on smokers last session, that’s probably enough for this biennium.” He was referencing the increase in taxes on smoking products passed during the 2013 session.

On March 26, the Senate language made it through another committee hearing with the indoor clause still intact. It will now move to the Senate floor on its own and as part of an omnibus bill. However, the indoor clause appears to be on shaky ground and may not survive a floor vote or other parliamentary moves.

Medical marijuana
This is another hot topic, though not an MMA priority, that remains in the news. To date, the House version of medical marijuana legislation has been heard in just one committee. It lost momentum after Gov. Dayton reiterated his opposition to it. On March 15, the MMA’s board of trustees voted not to support legislation as well saying that more research is needed.

Since that time, the governor has softened his stance and asked for the health department and the Mayo Clinic to study alternatives of the drug that would benefit children suffering from seizures. The proponents of the medical marijuana bill, however, were unsatisfied with the governor’s research proposal. 

The second deadline for viable legislation takes place March 28. Normally, bills that have not been heard in at least two committees by this time do not advance. However, medical marijuana legislation could become part of an omnibus bill or move via other means should agreement be reached.

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