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May 8, 2015
All legislation from last week’s update is currently in conference committee. Here legislators will hash out the differences between the House and Senate versions and hopefully reach a fair deal that both serves the disability community and maintains the economic vitality of Minnesota.
The message below is from ARC MN. It sums up health and human services current quite well.
The health and human services (HHS) omnibus bills that passed the Minnesota House and Senate are very far apart in how much they spend on the needs of Minnesotans. The House bill spends $1.14 billion less than the amount Gov. Dayton proposed in his budget earlier this session. The Senate budget increases human services spending by $348 million, but it is still less than Gov. Dayton’s proposal. The House and Senate also differ significantly on the total amount of spending in the entire state budget for the next two years.
The legislative session is scheduled to end on May 18th. That leaves just two weeks for the Legislature and the Governor to come together to decide the size of the budget, the amount of money each area of government will get (i.e., “the budget targets”), and the specific programs funded in each of those areas.
The HHS budget target must be large enough to accommodate crucial programs and funding that support people with disabilities so they can live and participate in their communities. These include: funding the State Quality Council; lowering parental fees and MA-EPD premiums; reducing the amount of the spend down required for people with disabilities to access health care through Medical Assistance; changing self-directed services to help people with disabilities find jobs; and increasing community services for people with disabilities by five percent so direct care professionals can receive a much-needed pay raise.
May 1, 2015
It has been a week of late night floor debates.
The House and Senate have passed their respective Health and Human Services (HHS) budget bills and MSCOD’s appropriations have remained the same since the last update. Next, a conference committee will be meeting to work out the differences. Five members of the Senate (Senators Lourey, Sheran, Hayden, Franzen, and Rosen) and five members of the House (Reps. Dean, Mack, Schomacker, Zerwas, McDonald) will have their first meeting on Tuesday, May 5, to create a compromise bill.
Both the House and Senate HHS budget bills include funding to raise the MA Spend-down standard AND a full repeal of the MA-EPD premium increase! The spend-down standard change is not as much or as quickly as needed, but it is still the most since 2001.
A provision included in the House HHS omnibus bill would replace MinnesotaCare and shift consumers onto the state’s MNsure health exchange.
The elections Omnibus bill (SF 455) in the Senate cleared the floor of the Senate with language to ensure that the disability community is represented on the Elections Emergency Task Force. It is in regard to full accessibility and safety if a disaster were to occur that impacted the elections process. MSCOD worked with Sen. Seiben to get this language put in the bill.
The Education Omnibus bill (SF5) in the Senate cleared the floor of the Senate with language to ensure that the disability community is represented in identifying credible competency standards for dual training. That is, the disability community will be consulted during decision making as to the specific knowledge and skills necessary for occupational training. This is important as we seek to increase the employment of people with disabilities. MSCOD worked with Sen. Bonoff to get this language put in the bill.
April 24, 2015
It is Omnibus bill time at the Legislature. The entire MSCOD budget bill (HF 1632) made it into the House Health and Human Services (HHS) Omnibus bill (HF 1638). This appropriates MSCOD $336,000 over the next biennium. The Senate appropriated MSCOD $209,000 over the next biennium in their HHS Omnibus bill (SF 1458).
Both the House and Senate Omnibus bills made progress on increasing the MA Spend-down standard which will allow people to keep more of their income and still qualify for MA. The House changes the spend-down from 75% to 80% of the Federal Poverty Guideline (FPG) while the Senate brings it up to 85%. Both set an effective date of 1/1/17 and the Senate Bill goes up to 95% in 2019. In addition, both bills repeal the MA-EPD increase which took effect this fall.
The Legacy Committee’s Omnibus bill (HF 303) includes $60,000 for MSCOD to preserve Minnesota’s disability history and culture, and to increase disability awareness statewide. Monday in the House Legacy Committee, Rep. Kahn introduced an amendment to the Omnibus bill (HF303) in each fund (Outdoor Heritage, Clean Water, Parks and Trails, Arts and Cultural Heritage) section reads as follows: “Disability Access. Where appropriate, grant recipients of the (Outdoor Heritage, Clean Water, Parks and Trails, Arts and Cultural Heritage) fund, in consultation with the Council on Disability, should make progress toward providing greater access to programs, print publications, and digital media for people with disabilities related to the programs the recipient funds using appropriations made in this article.” The amendment passed unanimously and is in the current engrossment of HF303. Legacy dollars are funded by every Minnesota taxpayer, so the question we must ask is: Why then are all the programs, organizations, facilities, and media not accessible or at least working towards accessibility for every Minnesotan? This legislation injects that very question into the appropriation of Legacy dollars.
Representative Lenczewski of Bloomington asked MSCOD to write a letter in opposition to some language in HF 1168. A small portion of HF 1168 carves out a portion of a trail on public land so that it may be used by a very small contingency of Minnesota’s tax payers. This language ignores years of hard work including legislation that has been signed into law that negotiated a dual trail in the Minnesota River Valley leaving a roughed and unpaved trail for hiking and off-road bicycling while providing a separate paved trail for families with children, average biking adults, seniors and people with disabilities using wheelchairs or scooters. It ignores that tax-payers with disabilities would end up paying for a trail they could not access.
March 20, 2015
MSCOD’s budget bill is being heard in both the House and Senate on Wednesday the 25th of March. That is this Wednesday, SF 1524 at 8:30 am in room 107 of the Capitol and HF 1632 at 12:45 pm in room 200 of the State Office Building. There will be an author’s amendment to clarify the language on lines 1.10 – 1.13.
HF 1941: relating to arts and cultural heritage; appropriating money for Minnesota State
Council on Disability. This is MSCOD’s Legacy grant proposal and it came about after Joan Willshire and David Fenley presented to the Legacy Committee last week. They presented on what has been accomplished with previous grant funds and what will be done with new funds if awarded.
SF 455 Election administration; elections emergency planning task force; Uniform Faithful Presidential Electors Act; automatic voter registration; right to vote restoration; early voting; redistricting population; appropriations. This omnibus elections bill was heard in Judiciary and an amendment passed to add MSCOD to the elections emergency task force.
SF 1880 Minnesota Compassionate Care Act of 2015 (assisted suicide). This bill is being heard in the Senate Health, Human Services, and Housing on Monday, March 23 at noon in room 15 of the Capitol. This is a new bill and MSCOD has no position as of yet.
SF 1136 Accessibility signs modification requirements; traffic, parking, restroom signs and state agency printed and digital media accessibility modifications requirements and appropriation. This bill has a hearing in Senate Transportation and Public Safety on Monday, March 23rd at 2:00pm in room 15 of the Capitol. MSCOD has some concerns and is keeping track of this bill.
SF 87 Transportation funding provisions modification; gross receipts motor fuels tax establishment; vehicle registration tax and metropolitan area transit sales sale provisions modification; highway user fund and county state aid funding distribution modification; trunk highway bonds and general obligation bonds authorization. This bill is the transportation omnibus bill and was heard in Transportation and public Safety this afternoon. It will direct funds to greater Minnesota transportation options as well as grow and bolster the metropolitan transit system which, by law, will increase Metro Mobility as well. MSCOD has taken no position on this bill as of yet.
With the House slashing HHS and not funding Transportation to the point of possible reduced bus service (vital for people with disabilities and possible civil rights violation given Olmstead and Jensen), strangely, they appropriated both MSCOD positions in the HHS Omnibus bill. Where this goes in CC is of course unknown, but a strong Senate HHS position regarding MSCOD’s budget bill (SF1524) would allow us to progress Minnesota’s accessibility.
February 27, 2015
SF1257: A bill for an act relating to human services; appropriating money to the Minnesota State Council on Disability.
We have concerns over SF1136 and will keep you posted as things progress.
February 20, 2015
We received the jackets for our appropriations bill and should be getting bi-partisan support next week. Members of the House of Representatives and the Senate have expressed concerns over our ability to meet our statutory obligations.
Our building statute bill, mentioned in last week’s update, is going through some language revisions. Once the new language has been approved the bill will be jacketed and we will begin to get legislators to sign on.
Bi-partisan felon voting rights bill (SF355 & HF342) has made progress in the Senate, passing the Judiciary Committee on Thursday the 19.
A bill (SF414) to allow early voting up to 15 days before Election Day passed its first committee stop, the Senate Subcommittee on Elections, on Thursday. It was re-referred to the Committee on Rules and Administration. This proposal does not yet have a House companion bill.
MA-EPD (SF 238 & HF 560) and MA-Reform (SF 543, HF 559) bills did not get to committee this week and it is looking like it may be a few weeks before they are to be heard. Hopefully We will know next week when they will be in committee.
Please stay tuned.