So Who is Leading the House & Senate Health Committees?
Ohio House Health Committee
Rep. Derek Merrin Rep Don Manning
January 1, 2019 began the 133rd General Assembly (GA) in Ohio. The House has some new members (some who just served as Senators) who have been assigned committees to serve on for this GA. The Health Committee is one that the nursing community closely monitors for any healthcare issues that may surface. The Health Committee is chaired by State Representative Derek Merrin, R-47 (includes portions of Fulton and Lucas counties,), who is currently serving his second term in the Ohio House. He was appointed in 2016. He sponsored the Epinephrine Accessibility Act which was signed into law by Governor John Kasich during the last GA. The Vice Chair of the House Health Committee is State Representative Don Manning, R-59 (includes most of Mahoning County) who is serving his first term in the House.
Ohio Senate Health Committee
Sen. Dave Burke Sen. Stephen Huffman
The Senate Health, Human Services, and Medicaid Committee for the 133rd GA is chaired by Dave Burke (R-26) which includes Crawford, Marion, Morrow, Sandusky, Seneca, Union, and Wyandot counties. Senator Burke is a pharmacist and a small business owner. He previously served as chair of this committee. He has been a critical supporter to stop prescription drug abuse in the war on opioids. The Vice Chair of this committee is Stephen Huffman (R-5) which includes Darke (part), Miami, Montgomery (part) and Preble counties. Dr. Huffman has been a practicing physician and is serving his first term in the Ohio Senate.
We begin the U.S. 116th Congress (January 3, 2019 to January 3, 2021) with three nurses serving in the House. This is a start, but we need more. Here is information about them that is taken from https://www.nursingworld.org/practice-policy/advocacy/federal/nurses-serving-in-congress/
Karen Bass is the U.S. Representative for California's 33rd congressional district. She has been selected by Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi to serve on the prestigious Steering and Policy Committee which sets the policy direction of the Democratic Caucus. Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland appointed Bass to serve as an Assistant Whip. Prior to her serving as the current Representative for CA-33rd, Karen Bass made history when the California Assembly elected her to be its 67th Speaker, catapulting her to become the first African American woman in the country to serve in this powerful state legislative role.
As a small business owner, former educator and registered nurse for over 40 years, Congressman Diane Black brings a unique perspective to her work in Washington. From starting two family-owned businesses, Black understands how to balance a budget, invest and hire new employees and grow a company without the help of government. From her work in the health care field, Black learned first-hand the importance of high-quality care and the obstacles faced by both patients and providers. She began her career as an emergency room nurse, but also served as a long-term care nurse and worked as part of an outpatient surgery team.
Congresswoman Johnson studied nursing at St. Mary's College at the University of Notre Dame. She returned to Texas when she successfully passed the National Board Examination in Nursing. She later became Chief Psychiatric Nurse at the VA Hospital in Dallas and received a bachelor's degree in nursing from Texas Christian University in 1967. She received a master's degree in public administration from Southern Methodist University in 1976. Congresswoman Johnson is the first nurse to be elected to the U.S. Congress.
133rd General Assembly Begins 1-2019
This month the 133rd Ohio General Assembly begins for the Ohio House of Representatives and Senate and will last for two years. Swearing in for these legislators is scheduled for Monday, January 7, 2019, before the two chambers begin their meetings and orientation for new members. Committees will be chosen, leaders and chairmen will be selected, and offices will be moved into. Some members of the House may now be members of the Senate and vice versa. Then there are new members who are inexperienced and are trying to understand the dynamics of their new positions.
As written in the last Legislative Corner, Wednesday, March 6, 2019, is the Nurses Day at the Statehouse (NDASH) when nurses can attend a conference to meet our legislators and hear them discuss their ideas and suggestions for healthcare and our nursing profession. I hope you have registered for this event (http://ohnurses.org/ndash/) if you are planning to attend as registration will be closed very soon due to its popularity. Since the Ohio Council of Perioperative Registered Nurses is a co-sponsor of this event, you get a discount on registration. This is the time to meet your own House member and Senator to learn about their knowledge on healthcare and to discuss critical messages on surgical issues and practices.
Do you know who your Ohio Senator or House member are? You can go online to the Ohio Senate or Ohio House of Representatives to find information about your current legislator who represents your district.
Many of the bills nursing supported during the last two-year general assembly died in committee so they may be reintroduced during this new two year session (133rd general assembly). I will keep you posted on any popular or significant legislation that is introduced during this session. For example, House Bill 456 that prevents mandatory overtime died in committee (132nd general assembly) at the last minute when the Ohio State University and the Cleveland Clinic voiced opposition to it. Nurses are now letting those facility administrations know of their disappointment in this bill not passing. Probably the content of this bill will be reintroduced during the 133rd general assembly, maybe with different verbiage to decrease any opposition. This is politics! Its all in the art of negotiation.
So bottom line: Know who your legislators are. Contact them to let them know you are a nurse and are in their districts. Let them know you are available if they have any questions or need more information about healthcare or nursing issues.
As nurses, we must be involved with legislation and politics to safeguard our scope of practice as nurses and to protect our patients!
Ohio House Bill 456 October 2018
Improving Nurse Staffing and Patient Care in Ohio
Ohio House Bill 456 was introduced by Representative Robert C. Sprague (R-Findlay) on December 28, 2017. It was referred to the House Health Committee, amended, and passed out of the full House on June 7, 2018. It was then introduced to the Senate on June 11, 2018.
The Ohio Nurses Association worked closely with Rep. Sprague on this legislation that prohibits a hospital from requiring a registered nurse or licensed practical nurse to work overtime as a condition of continued employment (Ohio House Bill 456). Research has shown that safe care is compromised when nurses work fatigued due to long shifts and understaffing. This bill allows nurses to use their professional judgment in determining if they can continue to provide safe patient care. If a nurse refuses to work beyond his or her regularly scheduled shift, then he or she cannot be disciplined by the employer or the Ohio Board of Nursing.
If this legislation is passed, then Ohio would become the 19th state to prohibit mandatory overtime for nurses.
This bill can be accessed at https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legislation/legislation-status?id=GA132-HB-456
Nurses Vote!!! November 2018
On Tuesday, November 6, 2018, I hope you plan to vote. Its only been since August 1920 (98 short years ago) that women got the right to vote. I know we have a lot of men in nursing now but since nursing has been a female dominated profession, the right to vote is significant. Also 1:50 registered voters are nurses. We cant take that percentage lightly. We have a lot of political power and need to use it to protect our profession so that safe patient care can be ensured.
Just recently Senator Portman (R-OH) visited the campus at Otterbein University and remarked about the power of nursing and great nursing schools (see picture below). Legislators realize the importance of a strong link with nursing since we form the foundation of healthcare in the USA. Are you familiar with your state Senator and Ohio House member? Do you know who the two US Senators are from Ohio (Portman R, Brown D) or who your Congressman (US House member) currently are? Do you know anything about the legislative candidates or issues you will be voting for on November 6th? Your duty as a citizen and as a professional is to know the legislators and the issues you support to make sure you make an intelligent decision about who and what you support.
Kay Ball, Amy Smith, and Dorothy Crider-Fleming with Senator Portman at the Point on Otterbeins campus.
Know and understand who represents you in Congress and at the Ohio Statehouse. Its your duty.
Kay Ball, PhD, RN, CNOR, CMLSO,FAAN