As the first week of the 2018 session comes to a close, the Council wants to remind you that we exist as a technical resource for you, your staff and your constituents on all issues of disability policy. Erica Schmiel has joined the Council staff for the legislative session. Feel free to reach out to Erica at 651-361-7803 or email@example.com.
On February 8, the Council adopted $20 million Bonding for Accessible State Parks as its #1 priority for the 2018 session. We have begun meeting with legislators about this proposal to make 4 state parks completely accessible to people with disabilities. We view this bill as the beginning of a long-term initiative to make our state parks and recreation system accessible to all Minnesotans. The Department of Natural Resources has identified William O’Brien State Park, Fort Snelling State Park, Minneopa State Park and Nerstrand Big Woods State Park for this proposal.
We have also been busy meeting with legislators about HF 2013/SF 2064 to remove outdated language from our State Accessibility Code that conflicts with Title II of the ADA. Chief authors Senator Draheim and Representative Hamilton have both requested hearings on this bill. Talking points about both these proposals will be available soon.
Our partner organizations have also been hard at work. The Minnesota Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities will be pursuing changes to Consumer Directed Community Supports (CDCS), MnCHOICES Assessment Reform and improving the MA enrollment and re-enrollment process for children and adults with disabilities as their top priorities. The grassroots effort to enhance the rate for complex PCA services is back after funding for the initiative was lost in the final hours of the 2017 session.
Bills related to service animals have also been introduced and we continue to have conversations with lawmakers about the need for any legislation related to driverless cars to allow for level four automated driving system. At this level people with disabilities will fully benefit from the independence that self-driving vehicles will offer.
Finally, Disability Day at the Capitol is on February 27. Join self-advocates, parents, family members, and allies on to advocate for services and supports that advance the inclusion and independence of Minnesotans with disabilities statewide. Attend an Issue briefing at 9:50 am in the Capitol Basement where they will also have materials to make a rally poster. The rally in the rotunda is at 11 a.m. We hope to see you there!