Thursday, March 24, 2011

Trials and Tribulations of a People Lobbyist

This week was a very busy for me at the Minnesota State Legislature.  As readers of this blog know I like going to the Capitol to help the policymakers do good legislation.  This week was the beginning of the busy time which will last up to adjournment in May.

First out of the box for the week was a bill sponsored by the Minnesota Private College Council.  This bill raised a number of concerns for me as to why immunity of liability should be given to private colleges when they share personal educational data with the state.  A key concept for me is that the private college has due diligence and responsibility when data is shared to make sure that the data is secured from breaches and unlawful disclosure  Having no liability I think may make the private entity not responsible.  The bill proposes that the private colleges would not have liability if the data they shared with the government was breached or disclosed improperly by the government.

The bill was presented publicly to offer liability protection to private colleges because of a law that is requiring higher ed institutions to give personal data to the state for studies.  When I read the bill I noticed what I was told is not what the bill does.  Does this happen at the Legislature?  It sure does.

What the bill also does is give the state higher ed facilities liability protection and allows much wider sharing of personal information on students other than the specific program told to me by private colleges without liability.

Currently, the bill is going through the committee process.

Another bill that caught my attention was HF 1087.  This bill is an initiative of the Minnesota Board of Nursing which makes it mandatory for the Board of Nursing to do background checks on all applicants for nurse licensure and in the future current nurses.  When I saw the bill introduced I did what I generally do is go talk to the Chief Author.  I scheduled a time to meet with her.  Concerns I had with the bill are several from access to information for the person who is the subject, to proper due process and fairness, and what is the rationale for permanently banning people and making it hard for people to be nurses if they have rehabilitated themselves.  There are also other issues.

But what got me into quick action over the past twenty four hours was when I saw HF 1087 in the House Health and Human Services Omnibus bill.  I realized that it did not have a public hearing.  A public hearing is an important part of process for the public to way in on bills.  I also knew by the language that the proposal changed in a dramatic fashion, one that only new applicants would have background checks, but current nurses would not have to go through background process.  A double tier for the nursing profession.

I met with the Chief Author of the bill who was open to my concerns and others who had talked with him.  He pulled the language from the bill.  The bill more than likely will go through the hearing process.  Issues are still outstanding as I have outlined above.

As I stated in a previous post, to paraphrase Bette Davis,  Fasten your seat belts, it is going to be a bumpy ride, as the legislative session goes towards adjournment.

1 comment:

  1. Good on you Rich. Someone needs to be the vox populi or "peoples' lobbyist" in this era of material preoccupation and apathy. We usually only get our say every other year, and by that time, the issues requiring attention are overwhelming. Thanks for paying attention.