On January 8, 2024, Minnesota Council on Disability (MCD) council members approved the MCD Legislative Agenda for the 2024 Legislative session.
Developing our legislative agenda takes months of work and begins with many meetings. We meet with people with disabilities, advocates, disability organizations, state agencies, legislators, and others to learn about the most pressing issues facing the disability community in our state. We also distribute the MCD Public Policy Survey – online, at the Minnesota State Fair, and at other appearances around the state – to get feedback on various disability-related issues.
After collecting that information, we discuss our findings with community leaders, legislators, and policy experts to determine which issues have the best chance of passing during the legislative session.
An important factor we use to determine if a policy is likely to pass in a given year is whether that legislative session takes place in a budget or policy year. The Minnesota Legislature operates on a biennial, or two-year, schedule. That means in odd years, such as 2023, the state budget is determined for the next two fiscal years. (Fiscal years run from July 1 of one year to June 30 of the next year.) Budget years are the best years to push for policies with a fiscal note, or a financial cost to the state and taxpayers. Even years, like 2024, are considered policy years. That means bills are usually only considered for passage into law if they are limited to a policy change or have little fiscal impact. The 2024 legislative session will be a policy year, so we have focused on policies that have little or no cost to taxpayers.
However, cost is not the only factor that will determine if a policy or bill makes our legislative agenda. Many policies and bills take years and several legislative sessions to pass. It takes time to:
- Build coalitions of support
- Educate legislators on the importance and impact of the bill or policy
- Have committee hearings to debate the policy
- Introduce any amendments that improve the bill
Some of the policies on our agenda are meant to start the process of education and debate, with the hope that they will pass in a future legislative session.
That said, we are including the following policy proposals in the 2024 MCD Legislative Agenda. In this article, you will find a summary of each policy. Stay tuned over the next weeks and months for a more in-depth look into each policy and how it will improve the lives of Minnesotans with disabilities.
On This Page
- Bud Rosenfield Act Codifying Olmstead Decision
- Task Force on Guardianship Reform
- Task Force on Special Education
- Task Force on Plain Language
- MA Income & Asset Limits Increase or Elimination
- Minnesota RISE Act
- Episodic Disabilities MHRA Amendment
- Service Animal Clarification
- Sunset Date for Subminimum Wage
- MA-EPD Premium Elimination
- Eliminating Solitary Confinement for Minnesotans with Disabilities
- Accessible Transportation Network Companies
- Have Ideas for a Future Legislative Agenda?
Bud Rosenfield Act Codifying Olmstead Decision
Codifying Supreme Court Olmstead Decision into Statute
The 1999 Olmstead v. L.C. Supreme Court decision affirmed that people with disabilities have the right to live, work, and play in the communities of their choice. The decision also affirmed that segregation of people with disabilities is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Right now, this right only exists as a supreme court decision, but the Bud Rosenfield Act will codify this decision into Minnesota state statute. The Bud Rosenfield Act is named in honor of disability rights champion Bud Rosenfield.
Task Force on Guardianship Reform
Creating a coalition to reform guardianships and conservatorships in Minnesota
The Task Force on Guardianship Reform will investigate how guardianships and conservatorships impact Minnesotans with disabilities. It will make recommendations on statutory changes to improve guardianships and provide a clear path for those who no longer wish to be under guardianship or conservatorship.
Task Force on Special Education
Reviewing Minnesota Special Education Post-pandemic
The last task force regarding any special education issue in Minnesota was in 2014. It is time for a new task force to investigate the state of special education in Minnesota. This is especially important after the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2023 Legislative session, which expanded special education funding.
The Task Force on Special Education will also look into the licensing and workforce shortage of special education teachers.
Task Force on Plain Language
Making government language more accessible
Establish a plain-language task force to study and examine using plain language in all three government branches.
Plain language goes hand in hand with accessibility ensuring everyone, including those with cognitive or learning disabilities, can participate in civic discourse. This is something that is usually neglected in plain-language discussions.
The task force will also determine if it is necessary to create a Plain Language Office.
MA Income & Asset Limits Increase or Elimination
Allowing Minnesotans with Disabilities on MA more financial security
Many Minnesotans with disabilities rely on government programs like Medicaid (also known as Medical Assistance or MA) for critical health care. Arbitrarily low income and asset limits often force them to choose between healthcare and financial security. We believe increasing or eliminating income and asset limits for Minnesotans with disabilities on MA will help reduce the cycle of poverty and improve their financial security.
Minnesota RISE Act
Improving accessibility in higher education for Minnesotans with Disabilities
The Minnesota Respond, Innovate, Succeed and Empower (RISE) Act is modeled after legislation passed in several states and introduced in Congress. Its goal is to improve the accessibility and transparency of accommodations for students with disabilities in postsecondary education.
Episodic Disabilities MHRA Amendment
An amendment to include “Episodic Disabilities” in the Minnesota Human Rights Act
This proposal would clarify that “episodic disabilities” are covered under the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA).
This policy proposal resulted from a U.S. district court judge who ruled in Josianne Mell v. The Minnesota State Agriculture Society that because the MHRA does not have specific language around “episodic disabilities,” the MHRA is intentionally omitting “episodic disabilities” from state disability protections. This means the State of Minnesota cannot currently intervene in cases that involve episodic disabilities.
Service Animal Clarification
Clarify the definition and rights to service animals in state statute for all disabilities.
Currently, state statute narrowly defines what disabilities and services animals can assist with. This clarification will broaden the definition of disability to ensure that more people have the right to a service animal.
Sunset Date for Subminimum Wage
Ending wage discrimination for Minnesotans with disabilities
In 2023, Minnesota passed legislation making historic investments to pay people with disabilities the minimum wage – or higher – and to increase customized and integrated employment. Those investments included support and education for families, as well as technical assistance for service providers and lead agencies (counties).
Continuing its commitment to change, it is time for Minnesota to increase wages for people with disabilities and to end the use of 14c Subminimum Wage Certificates.
MA-EPD Premium Elimination
Eliminate premiums for Minnesotans on Medical Assistance for Employed Persons with Disabilities
In the 2023 legislative session, a bill was introduced to eliminate premiums for Medical Assistance for Employed Persons with Disabilities (MA-EPD). The bill was almost sure to pass. However, due to a fiscal note error, the MA-EPD asset limits were eliminated instead of premiums.
While removing asset limits was also on MCD’s 2023 Legislative Agenda, we remain committed to eliminating premiums for Minnesotans on MA-EPD. This will help ensure their financial security and remove barriers to career growth and progression.
Eliminating Solitary Confinement for Minnesotans with Disabilities
Banning solitary confinement for Minnesotans with disabilities in our correctional facilities
People with disabilities are more likely to experience solitary confinement while in a correctional facility. They are often forced into these conditions because staff lack an understanding of disability.
We believe solitary confinement is a violation of basic human rights and should never be used on anyone, especially a person with a disability.
Accessible Transportation Network Companies
Requiring and incentivizing transportation network companies to have accessible vehicles
Currently, transportation network companies (TNCs) like Uber and Lyft are not required to have accessible vehicles as a part of their fleet in Minnesota. This means their services are not available to people who use wheelchairs. It is also a violation of the ADA.
The Accessible TNCs bill would require TNCs to have a certain percentage of their vehicle fleet be accessible. It would also provide incentives for drivers to make their vehicles accessible.
Have Ideas for a Future Legislative Agenda?
It’s never too early to start discussing future Public Policy Agendas. Many items on our Public Policy Agenda are a culmination of years of work and many meetings with stakeholders. They are supported by a coalition of disability advocates. If you are interested in proposing a disability issue that you believe should be on a future public policy agenda, please email MCD Public Policy Director Trevor Turner.