It’s a whirlwind at the Capitol with the first committee deadline approaching March 22. For bills to move forward they must have had hearings in relevant policy committees in the house of origin by March 22. The second deadline, March 29, is for committees to act favorably on bills, or companions of bills, that met the first deadline in the other house. These committee deadlines do not apply to Capital Investment Committees. We still hope to have hearings in Capital Investment Committees for the Accessible State Parks bonding bills, HF 3549 and SF 2963, to promote the inclusion of $20 million bonding to fund a comprehensive package of accessibility assessment, improvement and upgrades at 4 state parks. We have testifiers ready to go and have been busy obtaining letters of support from the disability community including the Minnesota Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities and the Paralyzed Veterans of America, among others. Look for a separate email with the fact sheet attached in the next few days that you can use to reach out to your legislators.
Our Senate bill, SF 2064, to eliminate outdated language in statute regarding the accessibility of public buildings was laid over during a March 12 hearing, and we hope to move the bill forward at a hearing on March 19. We are working on obtaining a hearing on its companion bill, HF 2013, in the House Commerce and Regulatory Reform Committee to meet the second committee deadline.
Bills to curb the misrepresentation of service animals, H.F. 3157/S.F. 2646, have received a lot of attention this session and are awaiting action by the full House and Senate. The Minnesota Council on Disability (MCD) continues to talk about the importance of educating businesses, the public and people with disabilities about their rights and responsibilities. We hope hopes this legislation will curb behavior while not shifting the burden of responsibility to people with disabilities to provide their animal is valid.
Legislation regulating transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft , H.F. 3032/S.F. 2704 also continue to move forward. MCD has testified/shared written testimony about the impact of this bill on the Wheelchair Accessible Taxicab Program the City of Minneapolis started using funds from Uber and Lyft fees. Ensuring the availability of on-demand accessible transportation is essential to allow people with disability to live, work and play in the community of their choosing.
For over 2 years, MCD has met with the Minnesota Physical Therapy Association and Department of Public Safety about authorizing licensed physical therapists to provide a medical statement to obtain a disability parking permit or disability plates. The bill passed out of the House Transportation and Regional Governance Committee and will be heard March 20 in Health and Human Services Reform. The time and cost savings of adding physical therapists to current statute is a positive step for people with disabilities.
There is no shortage of proposals at the Capitol to protect seniors and vulnerable adults in Minnesota. On March 13, the Governor announced a $15 million package to combat elder abuse (S.F. 3088/H.F. 3468.) and legislators in both the House and Senate have developed their own proposals including S.F.3437/S.F. 3438, sponsored by Senator Karin Housley. MCD has been talking to stakeholders about the need for the disability community to be a participant in working groups established this session including ones that would develop assisted living licensures and assess crimes against vulnerable adults.
There has also been legislation introduced, H.F. 3722/S.F. 3611 that impose work requirements on Medical Assistance beneficiaries. This legislation could result in the loss of healthcare and supports for some Minnesotans with disabilities and present barriers in getting and keeping a job. MCD has signed onto a letter by the This is Medicaid Campaign opposing this legislation.
Finally, many bills sponsored by our partner organizations are also moving forward including reforms of the Community Directed Community Supports Program, H.F. 3847, S.F. 3467.