2008 Legislative Summary
Note: The legislature also passed a supplemental budget agreement, significant health reform package and a number of MDH policy bills this year. Please see the following individual fact sheets for more detailed information:
A number of bills of interest to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) were passed and signed into law in the 2008 legislative session. Below is a summary of key policy items.
University of Minnesota workers health study (HF3569*/SF3300)
This legislation appropriates assets from the state workers’ compensation assigned risk plan to the University of Minnesota to conduct comprehensive science and evidence-based studies of workers' lung health, including industry-specific worker mortality and morbidity studies, clinical disease studies, exposure assessments, case-control screening of current and former workers and environmental studies that assess health impacts on workers and communities.
MDH staff members are collaborating on the design, execution and interpretation of these three studies of taconite miner health.
Health care services provisions (HF3222*/SF3168)
This legislation includes a number of provisions relating to health care services, including:
- Changes to the RN supervision requirement of Class B home care aides to allow for less frequent visits unless a clinical assessment indicates otherwise.
- Requirements for hospitals, clinics and medical facilities to have a policy for informing women about available options for fetal disposition when a miscarriage occurs.
- Adding a type of sex offender to the list of persons excluded from the definition of vulnerable adult under statute.
- Changes to dentists’ qualification standards.
- Authorizing the Department of Human Services (DHS) to participate as member in legal entity to operate a statewide health information exchange.
Blood donation age requirement minimum (HF1066/SF2471*)
This legislation lowers the age limit to allow people 16 years of age to donate blood with written parental or guardian consent. The bill was conceived by Blooming Prairie High School sophomore Joe Gibson, who wanted to donate blood at a school blood drive but was turned away because of his age. Minnesota will become the 15th state to allow 16-year-olds to give blood.
Radiation therapy facility construction moratorium (HF3265/SF2667*)
This legislation extends an existing moratorium on the construction of radiation therapy facilities that are not owned, operated or controlled by a hospital until August 1, 2011, in the following 14 Minnesota counties: Hennepin, Ramsey, Dakota, Washington, Anoka, Carver, Scott, St. Louis, Sherburne, Benton, Stearns, Chisago, Isanti and Wright.
Dangerous dogs (HF2906/SF2876*)
This legislation contains a provision to allow local units of government to authorize food and beverage establishments to allow dogs to accompany patrons in outdoor eating areas of the establishment.
Physical therapy licensure (HF1189/SF1018*)
This legislation amends provisions in the physical therapy licensing statute administered by the Board of Physical Therapy and affecting requirements for when physical therapists refer their patients to other health care professionals. The bill requires a report from the Board about
any discipline imposed on physical therapists for conduct resulting in harm that would not have occurred but for the change in statute. This bill also repeals parts of the Board of Physical Therapy rules.
Hospital records electronic image (HF3710/SF3263*)
This legislation permits hospital files and records to be transferred to an electronic image or other state-of-the-art electronic preservation. It also gives an electronic copy of a record the same force and effect as the original file when admitted and received as evidence even if the original is no longer in existence. Once the original records are transferred and preserved electronically, the legislation allows hospitals to destroy original records with the consent and approval of the board of directors or other governing body of the hospital.
Additionally, the legislation includes a provision related to the transfer of dead bodies. The legislation allows the deceased’s advance directive or will of the family of the deceased to specify how the decedent’s body is transported to the place of final disposition.
Children’s mental health (HF3377/SF3049*)
This legislation contains a provision to require MDH to participate in a workgroup charged with examining current capacity and utilization of a variety of types of mental health providers, as well as workforce issues. The commissioner of human services must report to the Legislature on the findings of the workgroup by January 16, 2009.
Drug prescribing and filing (HF2639/SF2941*)
This legislation, also known as Justin’s Law, states that the prescription for commonly abused prescription drugs is not valid unless it can be established that the prescription was based on documented patient evaluation. It further clarifies the prescriber-patient relationship to stop the abuses occurring from illicit online pharmacies. The bill was introduced in response to the 2006 prescription drug overdose death of St. Cloud resident Justin Pearson.
In addition, the language also allows clinicians to issue a prescription for one of several common antibiotics to manage sexually transmitted diseases in accordance to guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The practice known as Expedited Partner Therapy (EPT) has been shown to be an effective and cost-effective partner management strategy.
Natural disaster assistance procedures established for state agencies (HF2904*/SF2607)
This legislation establishes the framework and procedures for state agencies to assist communities to recover from a natural disaster for areas of Minnesota that are included in a presidential declaration of major disaster.
Emergency Medical Services Regulatory Board (EMSRB) term authorization (HF2590/SF 2418*)
As signed into law, this legislation removes term limits on appointees to the Emergency Medical Services Regulatory Board (EMSRB). This law also extends the implementation date by which ambulance services must have written trauma and triage transport guidelines from July 1, 2009 to July 1, 2010 in order to allow time for stakeholder involvement in the modification process.
Human services licensing (HF3579/SF3563*)
This legislation makes a number of human services licensing changes. Specifically, the legislation:
- Clarifies residential child or adult foster care program licensure requirements relating to maltreatment. This section has no effect on MDH responsibilities.
- Makes changes to the Medical Assistance reimbursement procedures. This section has no effect on MDH responsibilities.
- Amends the appropriation for the Senior Nutrition program and changes the DHS priority system to programs that maintain home delivery and congregate dining services instead of focusing on persons facing language or cultural barriers, persons with special diets and other hard-to-serve populations.
- Requires DHS in consultation with MDH and consumers, nursing facility providers, and nursing facility employees to 1) review the definitions of nursing facility direct care staff in statute, rules, and bulletins; 2) determine how to standardize definitions to enable the public to more easily make comparisons; and 3) examine new and emerging staff titles. Further requires DHS to report recommendations to the Legislature by January 15, 2009.
Home care services provider regulation (HF3955*/SF3673)
This legislation relates to payments made to victims of the I-35W bridge collapse and the establishment of a three-year demonstration project for older adult services community consortiums. Specifically, this bill requires the commissioner of human services to establish an older adult services community consortium demonstration project and specifies project requirements. It also requires specified grant funds to be transferred to a community consortium account and requires the commissioner to evaluate the project and report to the Legislature.
County-based purchasing (HF3809/SF3322*)
This legislation implements several recommendations made by the Office of the Legislative Auditor (OLA) regarding the state managed care programs. It requires:
- County-based purchasing plans to pay the same fee to MDH for their licenses as health maintenance organizations now pay.
- County-based purchasing plans to reinvest any excess revenues into health-related services.
- MDH to develop standards for reporting administrative expenses and for determining what “excessive” administrative expenses are.
Nonsmoking hotel room violation (HF1825/SF2809*)
This legislation clarifies an innkeeper or owner/operator rights and responsibilities relating to hotel guests and the process for collecting penalties from guests when there is property damage in the hotel. This bill defines a more detailed process for collecting damages from a guest when smoking has taken place in a nonsmoking hotel room.
Legislative Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR) funding (HF2745/SF2492*)
This legislation includes a package of projects proposed for funding by the Legislative Citizens Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR). The funding is from the environment and natural resources trust fund. The specific project titled, Testing Pesticides and Degradates in Public Drinking Water, is the project proposed by the Department of Agriculture in cooperation with MDH.
Omnibus data practices bill (HF3553/SF3235*)
The omnibus data practices bill makes general changes to the Data Practices Act. Additionally, it clarifies Hennepin County Medical Center's authority to participate in a health information exchange and to share medical data with other health care provider entities within its facility for purposes of treatment, payment or health care operation.
Omnibus state government finance bill (HF3494*/SF3190)
The omnibus state government finance bill includes a provision related to state employee time for donating blood. Specifically, state employees are granted three hours of paid leave from work every 12 months, to donate blood.
Naturopathic doctor registration (HF1724*/SF1520)
The legislation creates a registry of naturopathic doctors. Specifically, the language:
- Defines naturopathic medicine and training, scope of practice and professional conduct.
- Restricts the use of titles unless the physician also holds the appropriate license or registration for the health care practice
- Establishes requirements for registration and continuing education.
- Creates an advisory council under the Board of Medical Practice.
- Sets registration fees.
The legislation also requires the commissioner of health to convene a work group by September 1, 2008, and defines the membership and operation of the work group. In addition, dollars are appropriated to the Board of Medical Practice for the registration of naturopathic doctors and to the commissioner of health for the work group.
Omnibus higher education bill (HF3349/SF2942*)
The omnibus higher education policy bill includes two provisions affecting MDH. First, it makes technical changes to the health professional educational loan forgiveness program. This legislation also adds additional detail to the teaching service required of participants in the health faculty loan forgiveness program. It improves the clarity and specificity of the requirement by amending the language from a teaching requirement of "20 hours per week" for participating nursing or allied health faculty to a requirement to teach for at least 12 credit hours, or 720 hours per year. The new language better accommodates the variations of different educational institutions.
Second, this legislation requires the commissioner of health, in consultation with the Board of Dentistry, to convene a workgroup to develop recommendations and proposed legislation for the education and regulation of oral health practitioners, a new discipline created in the law. Oral health practitioners will be licensed by the Board of Dentistry and work under the supervision of a dentist. The workgroup must hold their first meeting by August 1, 2008 and must include an implementation schedule that allows for enrollment of students in oral health practitioner educational programs by the fall of 2009. The oral health practitioner discipline is intended to increase access to dental care for low income and underserved patients while providing dentist oversight and assuring patient safety and quality of care, all goals consistent with the principles of health reform.
Omnibus agriculture and veterans policy bill (HF3902/SF3683*)
Included in the omnibus agriculture policy bill are provisions related to chiropractic care for animals. The language requires the Board of Chiropractic Examiners to create animal chiropractic rules and criteria and outlines what training must be included. In addition, it states that licensed chiropractors can practice on animals if registered and approved by the Board of Chiropractic Examiners and if specific continuing education requirements are met. Compromise language was added to require referral from a veterinarian and separate treatment rooms for animal and human patients to prevent exposure to diseases transmissible from animals to humans, called zoonoses.
The legislation also includes a section on dedicating the percentage of license fees prescribed for the 2008 Family Motor Coach Association event held on the State Fair grounds.
Omnibus energy (HF3661/SF3337*)
The omnibus energy bill includes a provision related to broadband mapping. The bill calls for the commissioner of commerce to contract with a nonprofit organization that has significant experience working with broadband providers to develop geographical information system maps displaying levels of broadband service by connection speed and type of technology used and integrating the maps with demographic information to produce a comprehensive statewide inventory and mapping of existing broadband service and capability. The initial maps must be provided to the commissioner of commerce by February 1, 2009.
Omnibus environmental policy (HF3625/SF3056*)
This legislation includes two provisions that impact MDH. The first section further defines the rules and standards related to space requirements for environmental learning centers when used for educational programs offered in conjunction with a college or university. The second section modifies air permit provisions granted by the Pollution Control Agency. Specifically, the language includes a condition related to whether the area includes a disproportionate percentage of children experiencing lead poisoning or other environmentally related health problems.
Omnibus economic development bill (HF3722*/SF3471)
This legislation calls for a study and report to the Legislature on vacation rental lodging. Specifically, the study will focus on developing recommendations on ways to protect consumers, ensure tax compliance and promote safe rentals. The study will be conducted by Explore Minnesota Tourism with MDH and others participating in consultation. The report is due by January 15, 2009.
Omnibus transportation policy (HF3800*/SF3223)
The omnibus transportation policy bill includes a number of provisions of interest to MDH. The first provision is related to the use of wireless communication devices while operating a motor vehicle. Specifically, the language prohibits the use of wireless communication devices to compose, read or send an electronic message while operating a motor vehicle when in motion or as part of traffic. This provision does not apply to other functions of wireless devices including making cellular phone calls, using the device in hands free mode or in cases of emergency.
The legislation also includes changes to provisional licenses, including:
- For the first six months of provisional licensure, the license holder may not have more than one passenger under the age of 20. For the second six months, the license holder may not have more than three passengers under the age of 20. These provisions make exemptions for immediate family and do not apply if the license holder is accompanied by a parent or guardian.
- Prohibits driving for provisional license holders between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m. with exceptions for the following:
- Driving related to employment.
- Driving related to a school event.
- When accompanied by a licensed driver at least 25 years of age.
This bill also includes a provision that creates an advisory committee on non-motorized transportation, to advise the commissioner of transportation on items related to non-motorized transportation, including safety, education and development programs. The commissioner of health is to appoint a department employee to serve as a member of the committee.
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