Accessible State Parks, the top priority for the Minnesota Council on Disability, has been in the news!
Watch the WCCO Channel 4 feature: Bonding Money Would Make State Parks More Accessible.
Read the Star Tribune article: Minnesota state parks targeted for better accessibility for the disabled.
Unfortunately, the House and Senate omnibus bonding bills fall far short of the $20 million Accessible State Parks bonding legislation introduced in the House and Senate earlier this session. The House bonding bill, which passed the full House floor on May 14, includes $2 million for accessibility improvements. The Senate bonding bill invests just $500,000. While this indicates legislators recognize the need for accessibility, these funding levels are not nearly enough when all 75 of our state parks have accessibility barriers that prevent people with disabilities, veterans, and our growing elderly population from fully using them. The $10 million for accessibility improvements in the Governor’s bonding proposal would make William O’Brien State Park completely accessible and begin plans for similar improvements at Fort Snelling State Park. A $10 million investment in accessible state parks would demonstrate that Minnesota is working to achieve ADA Standards.
We have been educating legislative leadership on the need to make Accessible State Parks a higher funding priority in the final bonding bill. Bonding bills require a 3/5th majority to pass (81 votes in the House and 41 votes in the Senate), which means they require bi-partisan support. With the House bonding bill passing by just 3 votes, the Senate may have a more difficult time reaching the 41 votes needed before a conference committee is called to work out the differences in the omnibus bonding bills. Here is a comparison of the House, Senate and Governor’s bonding proposals (PDF).
The omnibus supplemental budget conference committee continues to meet and has begun adopting language. On May 14, they adopted a Department of Labor and Industry Article that includes the provision eliminating outdated and confusing language in the accessibility of public buildings statute. However, there are many controversial parts of this huge omnibus budget bill, which makes a Governor veto likely.
There are just 5 days left before the May 21 adjournment, and a lot of decisions have yet to be made. Look for another update after a Capital Investment Conference Committee has been named.
If you have any questions about this or other legislation, please feel free to email Erica Schmiel at Erica.firstname.lastname@example.org.