Follow the progress of 2016 MCD policy initiatives throughout the legislative session with our regular Legislative Updates.
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This is the fourth week of a short ten week session. MSCOD is working hard to support numerous bills.
Capitol accessibility has been a concern over the last few years and this year it is especially important to know what is going on with construction and how Minnesotans with disabilities can access the legislative process. MSCOD’s website has a comprehensive guide here.
The House and Senate released standing schedules for committee hearings throughout session. These times are subject to change and agendas for each day will be announced on an ongoing basis. Schedules for hearings and floor sessions can be found here.
HF 2955 & SF 2584 MSCOD’s barrier removal bill has been referred, in the House, from Civil Law to the floor and will be heard in the Senate Judiciary committee on April 5. This bill will make it easier for small businesses to meet their obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
SF 2569 & HF 3325 seeks legislative authorization of a task force and technology demonstration project to promote and support the development of autonomous vehicle technology in Minnesota to meet the transportation needs of Minnesotan’s with disabilities that are currently unable to drive.
SF 2457 & HF 2774 is the result of an emergency elections task force that MSCOD was a part of. This bill specifies what is to happen if an emergency disrupts an election. MSCOD was included to ensure that the accessibility of polls is a top priority and that the needs of voters with disabilities are included in all aspects of any emergency plan.
HF 559 & SF 543 increases the asset and income limits for people with disabilities who qualify for Medical Assistance.
SF 2310 & HF 2706 is the Best Life Alliance five percent bill to help raise wages for direct care staff.
SF 2881 & HF 3276, would extend the option allowing individuals on Consumer Directed Community Supports CDCS graduating from school to get an additional 20% rate increase in the their CDCS budget.
SF 2284 & HF 2438 would raise the spenddown limit to the federal poverty level for people with disabilities to qualify for MA; doing so would raise the spenddown limit from $792 a month in income to $990 a month. The legislation would also raise the asset limit from $3,000 to $10,000 for an individual with disabilities to qualify.
SF 3136 & HF 3678: This bill clarifies in the disability parking statute dementia as a disability that as it progresses individuals will be able to receive disability parking placards. MSCOD worked with the bill’s author, Senator Nelson, to ensure the bill language was written to achieve the Senator’s intentions while preserving the integrity of existing law. MSCOD also testified at the bill’s first hearing.
HF 2955 & SF 2584 MSCOD’s barrier removal bill has run into some concerns. The House and Senate versions will be different. The House version has no appropriation for MSCOD and the Senate version will have different policy changes. The goal of this bill is to make it easier for small businesses to meet their obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). MSCOD believes that an appropriation dedicated to informing businesses of their ADA obligations is the best step towards a fully accessible Minnesota and reduce the occurrence of lawsuits.
SF 2569 & HF 3325 TIM’s bill (Transportation Independence for Many) is building momentum as it goes through the committee process in the Senate. The first deadline will be met in the Senate and the bill will be heard for the first time this week in the House.
SF 2310 & HF 2706 The Best Life Alliance agreed that 90% of the 5% increase that this bill seeks would go to direct care staff. This is important so these workers receive as much of a wage increase as possible. This language change is in both the House and Senate versions. This bill has passed key committees and is ready for consideration in the larger health and human services spending bill.
SF 2284 & HF 2438 Medical Assistance reform on income & asset limits for people with disabilities has passed key committees and is ready for consideration in the larger health and human services spending bill.
SF 3449 Provides funding for the Department of Labor and Industry to do education and outreach to small businesses on their obligations under the ADA. This appropriation will play a direct role in removing architectural barriers that hinder people with disabilities’ civil right to live, work, and play in the community of their choice. It has been included in the Natural Resources and Economic Development Article and will be heard in the Senate Finance Committee this week.
SF 2569 & HF 3325 TIM’s bill (Transportation Independence for Many), the demonstration project and the $5 million appropriation have been amended out of both versions. The Senate version has $25,000 to fund the task force and has cleared all necessary committees. The House version now has no funds and is looking like it will not make it through all necessary committees. All is not lost; the task force can be included in conference committee.
MSCOD submitted testimony last week to the Senate Capital Improvements committee in support of a dual trail with a paved trail as part of the Minnesota Valley State Trail project in Bloomington. We have been working with Dept. of Natural Resources and the City of Bloomington to increase access for people with disabilities in this park.
The House and Senate have each presented their Health and Human Services bills and will move on them this week. The House Health and Human Service bill (HF 3476) does include a one-time, five percent increase but uses funds from MNsure to pay for it. The Senate includes over $40 million in new money for HHS but does not include a rate increase for Home & Community-Based Services.
SF 2284 & HF 2438 increases the MA Disability Spenddown Limit to 100% of poverty level and increasing the asset limits for individuals with disabilities to $10,000 for individuals and $18,000 for couples.
Unfortunately, MA Disability Reform was not included in either the House or Senate Finance Budgets.
This week has been filled with omnibus bills. All of the bills that make it out of committee by deadline are included in the omnibus bills for their respective subject area. Both of MSCOD’s initiatives this session are in the Senate omnibus bills but not in the House versions. As conference committees are formed we will push for the inclusion of our initiatives.
Thursday night’s long House session was tough to watch because no one stood up for the disability community when given a chance. They discussed and amended the HHS Omnibus Bill and there was little to be proud of. All MA reform efforts are not looking good this year.
MSCOD and Self-Driving MN met with a representative from General Motors GM to discuss any interest GM may have in the accessibility of autonomous vehicles. GM showed great interest and they are aware that Minnesota is the only state to be considering access and this stage in technology development. As a reminder: SF 2569 seeks legislative authorization of a task force to study promote and support the development of autonomous vehicle technology in Minnesota to meet the transportation needs of Minnesotan’s with disabilities that are currently unable to drive. There is a $25,000 appropriation. This initiative has been included in the Senate’s Omnibus bill and cleared the Senate floor late last week. The bill is currently dead in the House.
The transportation conference committee is the only one to have met yet and they are continuing from where they left off last year. There is a huge difference between the House and Senate versions; like last year, compromise will be difficult. There was little movement today in their conference committee, with gas tax being the major dividing issue.