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2016 Pre-Legislative Session Workshop
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On November 5th, the Georgia Nurses Association hosted its first Pre-Legislative Session Workshop.  Our Education Center was filled to capacity.  We are grateful for all of the attendees who found this event worthwhile.  The more than 50 attendees received information on the Georgia General Assembly and the best way to communicate with legislators.  There were several presenters ranging from government relations professionals to nurses who had experience in the legislative arena. 

 

 

Special Guest, Dr. Debbie Hatmaker, Executive Director of the ANA was present and provided greetings.  We are very grateful to have ANA support as we build on the successes that GNA has experienced in past years. 

 

 

We are also grateful that Rep. Jodi Lott, nurse-House Health and Human services member recorded an interview for the attendees.  Rep. Lott was unable to be present but really wanted to participate so she sent the video as a way to show she is on board with learning more about GNA’s issues and finding solutions to healthcare challenges in Georgia.  She also presented information on the most effective way to advocate and communicate with her and her colleagues. 

 

Nurse-Attorney, Merilee Gober presented a case study in perseverance.  She presented the process for passing a bill addressing lactation consultant licensure that she had worked on as a part of a for 3 years.  The perseverance of her advocacy group finally paid off when the Governor signed their bill into law. 

 

Richard Lamphier, nurse- GNA legislative Committee Director was present to present the importance of unity among the profession. Lamphier also presented various ways that nurses can get involved in the advocacy process.   Volunteering with GNA is an option that all nurses have when they want to be active on legislative issues.  He also presented the GNA legislative platform for 2017 which includes working on having a nurse compact passed in Georgia.  We believe that this will help address the shortage of healthcare in many areas and will also help with the delay that many may experience in the licensure process when they are needed to serve in case of a human emergency in Georgia.  He also presented our intent to work within a coalition to pass tax credits which will include nurse practitioners. 

 

 

Dina Hewett, nurse-professor presented some of the realities of the challenges nurses face at the General Assembly.  Her uncle, a long-time state Senator in Georgia often shared the challenges that nurses would always face as long as they are divided.  Some of the feedback he often offered her was based on the fact that so many who challenge the nurse’s ability to provide care were able to put differences aside and find a unity to address an issue.  Others’ unity has sometimes meant the defeat of an issue that was important to patients and nursing.  This presentation was unique because it is the perspective of a long time legislator who has seen many bills pass and fail.  He attributes much of the success organizations experience to their ability to present a unified front. 

 

 

Molly Bachtel nurse-professor presented a primer that she developed on what to expect when nurses come to the capitol.  This great teaching tool takes a lot of the mystery and anxiety out of the capitol experience.  We hope that we will be able to share her video with more people.  She highlights the experience from arrival to departure and this will be valuable to all who will visit the capitol and advocate for patients and the nursing profession. 

 

Additionally, GNA lobbyists Cindy Shepherd presented a Georgia Legislature 101 primer which informed attendees of some little known facts about how bills are passed.  She presented tips for advocates that have helped several groups find success in the process. 

 

Finally, GNA Director of Communications, Tim Davis presented information for our days at the capitol and has called on attendees to participate in a special event to be held at the capitol on January 12 when nurses will deliver care packages and the GNA legislative agenda. 

  

                     

 

The day culminated with a special pinning ceremony where all participants received the GNA emblem for legislative advocacy.  House Minority Secretary and Appropriations member, Pat Gardner was present and pinned each participant.  It was an honor to have her present and a contributor to our very special day.

 

Attendees received individual packets with their legislators’ information included so that they can communicate directly with them.  They are now able to offer themselves as resources to their legislative representatives when matters of healthcare are presented.  They received sample communications to help ease the process of “what to say” to their representatives.  We hope that this information will be useful as all engage those who represent them in the legislative process.   We also had computers set up for individuals to send their legislators a message during the workshop.  Perhaps one of the most valuable tools to the workshop was the open feedback that attendees were able to present throughout the workshop.  Attendees were invited to chart their questions, good ideas, and proposals throughout the workshop.  GNA will take that feedback and implement in the next workshop.

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