With the conclusion of the 2019 Minnesota legislative session, the Council on Disability expresses gratitude to all legislators and policy partners for their collaboration on issues identified in MCD’s 2019 Public Policy agenda. The following is a summary of the policy issues that the Council worked on and the result our work.
Minnesota Council on Disability Operating Budget
The Council on Disability thanks Chairs Liebling and Benson for the inclusion of MCD’s requested $154k budget increase in the Health and Human Services Omnibus Bill. This increase in critical funding to the budget baseline will allow the Council to maintain staffing levels and the delivery of its programmatic services.
Minnesota Council on Disability Legacy Proposal
MCD’s Legacy proposal was not included in the final Legacy Omnibus bill. The Council thanks members of the committee for their consideration.
As a bonding bill did not occur this year, Governor Walz and MCD’s request for $19.5 million for accessible state parks was not funded. MCD will pursue this goal with vigor in the 2020 legislative session.
Accessibility of Public Buildings
MCD thanks Senator Draheim and Chair Mahoney in chief authoring HF772/SF937 to update outdated language in Minnesota’s building code in regards to the accessibility of public buildings. Language from this bill was included in the Jobs Omnibus bill.
Accessibility of Assisted Living Facilities
The Council thanks Representative Schultz and Senator Housely for their critical work on legislation related to assisted living facilities and elder care. The Council will collaborate with the MN Department of Health to implement high accessibility standards in the rulemaking process following the legislative session.
Accessibility of the Capitol Complex Tunnel System
Representative Rod Hamilton understands the challenge of navigating the Capitol Complex tunnel system that people with disabilities have. He uses a wheelchair and climbs the inaccessible, steep tunnel between the State Office Building and the Capitol every day. He and Senator Koran introduced a bill that would fund an effort to improve the tunnel to be ADA compliant (HF2660/SF2618). As a bonding bill did not occur this session, MCD urges this proposal to be funded in the 2020 legislative session.
Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAV) Policy
MCD has been a strong supporter of authorizing the testing of autonomous vehicles on Minnesota roads and has provided testimony on both House and Senate bills to do so. Action on autonomous vehicle technology will not occur in this legislative session. MCD will support the testing and adoption of autonomous vehicle technology in the 2020 legislative session.
PCA Driving Reimbursement
The Council thanks Representative Mann and Senator Matthews for authoring HF2536/SF2715, which would expand reimbursable driving activities for PCAs in order to ensure the implementation of a person with disability’s service plan. MCD will work with stakeholders next year to pass this crucial legislation into law.
Voters with Disabilities
The Minnesota Council on Disability thanks the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State, Steve Simon and legislators on the several bills to improve the experience for voters with disabilities. These bills are: HF1152, HF1098, HF94, HF1372, and HF14.
ADA Notice to Businesses Working Group
The bill HF803/SF806 convenes stakeholders to develop a report of recommendations regarding providing businesses notice of potential barrier violations. This bill was not included in the final omnibus bill.
Website Accessibility Grants
MCD thanks advocate Noah McCourt, Representative Elkins, and Senator Dziedzic for their work on HF1358/SF1058 to create website accessibility grants for cities and counties. This bill was not included in the final State Government Finance Omnibus bill. MCD supports this legislation being passed in the next legislative cycle.
Legislative Digital Accessibility Working Group
MCD applauds the Minnesota Commission for the Deaf, Deaf-Blind, and Hard of Hearing for their work on HF1962/SF1727 which would convene a working group to establish digital accessibility standards for the MN Legislature. This bill was passed in the State Government Finance Omnibus bill.
Employees with Disabilities Workgroup
MCD thanks the Minnesota Commission for the Deaf, Deaf-Blind, and Hard of Hearing for its work on HF1968/SF2004 to establish a working group to analyze best practices for hiring and retaining state employees with disabilities. This bill was passed in the State Government Finance Omnibus bill.
The Minnesota Council on Disability exists to serve people with disabilities in Minnesota through development of effective policy, training, technical resources and collaborations with public and private stakeholders. Any policy inquires can be directed to Public Policy Director Kody Olson at firstname.lastname@example.org.