It’s been busy at the Capitol as the Legislature worked long hours to meet the April 20 legislative deadline on all finance bills. Bonding bills are not subject to finance deadlines so we continue to meet with members of the Capital Investment Committees about the Accessible State Parks bonding bill, HF 3546/SF 2963.These bills request $20 million in bonding to make four of our state parks ADA compliant and accessible to all Minnesotans and continue to gain community support. Supporters include the National MS Society, the Minnesota Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, Disabled American Veterans, Paralyzed Veterans of America-MN and Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute. While the Governor released his bonding bill earlier this session (and includes $10 million towards accessible state parks), we don’t expect to see a bonding bill from the House and Senate for a few weeks, yet.
The Accessibility of Public Buildings bill was rolled into in the Senate Omnibus Jobs Finance bill, SF 3945 (Article 3, line 32.24.) We plan to educate House conferees on the importance of the Senate position on this issue.
In the House, the legislation regarding Protections for Older Adults and Vulnerable Adults was rolled into the House Omnibus Health and Human Services (HHS) Finance bill. The Minnesota Council on Disability, along with the Commission of Deaf, Deaf-Blind and Hard of Hearing Minnesotans, are now included as participants in the Assisted Living and Dementia Care Licensing Working Group in this House bill, HF 3138 (beginning line 229.25). Progress is being made in the Senate to ensure people with disabilities are represented in working groups established in the Senate Eldercare and Vulnerable Adult Protection Act, SF 3437. We appreciate the willingness of bill authors, Representative Deb Kiel and Senator Karin Housley, to listen and respond to our concerns.
Our partner organizations have had mixed success with their legislative priorities. Included in the Senate Omnibus Health and Human Services (HHS) finance bill is $2 million in funding to repeal the incontinence bulk purchasing program. The House did not include this provision in their HHS spending bill so advocates will be asking for the House to adopt the Senate position when the HHS bills go to conference committee. The bill to enhance the rate for high needs PCA did not secure new funding in either House or Senate Omnibus HHS spending bills. However, the bills did incorporate language that added the enhanced rate into statute, laying the groundwork to make further progress next year. The Medical Assistance work reporting requirement was not included in any omnibus bills, at this time.
The legislation authorizing licensed physical therapists to provide a medical statement for disability parking permit/plates found new life in the House Omnibus Transportation Finance bill, HF 4160. The council will let senate conferees know that this provision is acceptable.
The bill to make misrepresentation of service animals a crime, SF 2646, passed the Senate floor unanimously on April 19. It should be heading to the Governor’s office very soon for his signature. The Council is hopeful this legislation will curb behavior and we are committed to educating businesses, the public and people with disabilities about their rights and responsibilities as this bill becomes law.
As always, if you have any questions email Erica Schmiel at firstname.lastname@example.org.