1. Minnesota Council on Disability, Disability Agencies, and Services
In this legislative session, we must watch for potential cuts to MCD’s already-small budget and work with legislators to preserve, if not expand, it. In addition to preserving our budget, MCD legislative priorities include safeguarding the budgets of state agencies and programs that serve the disability community. The Minnesota Office of Management and Budget released its February 2021 Budget and Economic Forecast. Instead of an anticipated shortfall for FY 2022-23, the forecast now projects a positive balance of $1.6 billion due to a higher revenue forecast, lower state spending, and an increased surplus for the current fiscal year. This news means that budget cuts to disability agencies and services are unlikely. However, it is important to continue to monitor the legislative budget process.
2. Interactive Process Amendment – Minnesota Human Rights Act
2021 Bills: SF (TBD), HF (TBD) (Reyer)
The Minnesota Human Rights Act should be updated to be in line with the ADA regarding the Interactive Process that requires employers to work with a person with a disability seeking workplace accommodations. Currently, the MN Human Rights Act does not include any guidelines on the interactive process, which means that the state (including MCD) cannot assist and provide guidance to employers regarding ADA workplace accommodations for employees with disabilities. We want to expand employment opportunities for Minnesotans with disabilities and help their employers retain them in Minnesota’s workforce.
3. Restoring Community Access to the Personal Care Assistant Program Bill
People who receive PCA services are currently not permitted to have their PCAs drive them as part of their service plan. This activity is most ned when the client owns an adapted vehicle but cannot drive it themselves. The bill would amend the Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL) in the PCA program to include transportation of clients. In many areas, especially in Greater Minnesota, there are no transportation alternatives if clients cannot drive themselves to and from work, school, a volunteer job, the store, or anywhere else. This bill is even more critical because of the pandemic: clients may need their PCA to drive them to get tested or for the vaccine.
4. Out-of-Network Coverage for Diagnosis and Treatment of Rare Diseases
Under most Minnesota-based health insurance policies, people with rare diseases must first see doctors and specialists within their network before being referred to an out-of-network specialist. Due to the nature of rare diseases, few doctors may be aware of the disease, much less able to treat the condition. Updating the law to require health insurance plans to allow people with rare diseases to see specialists directly, whether in-network or not, would save time and money for people with rare diseases.
5. Rare Disease Advisory Council Amendment
Established by state law in 2019, the Rare Disease Advisory Council (RDAC) is facilitated by the University of Minnesota. Clarifying language needs to be added to the statute to allow the RDAC to take policy positions and consult with legislatures. The language needs to address a potential conflict with University of Minnesota policy and statute requiring all policy positions to be approved by the U of M Board of Regents. Stakeholders are currently convening to determine how to move forward with this amendment.
6. Website Accessibility Grants Program
This bill establishes the Website Accessibility Grants Program, administered under MCD. A Website Accessibility Advisory Council would review grant applications and distribute money to improve the accessibility of city and county websites.
7. Sensory Accessibility Grants Program
This bill establishes the Sensory Accessibility Grants Program, administered under MCD. The program would review grant applications and distribute money to improve the sensory accessibility of public spaces.
8. State Employment and Retention of Employees with Disabilities
Task Force Report: Strategies for Attracting and Retaining State Employees with Disabilities
2021 Bills: SF 1570 (Westrom); HF (TBD) (Reyer)
The Advisory Task Force on State Employment and Retention of Employees with Disabilities (hereafter known as “the task force”) was created by the 2019 Minnesota Legislature and charged with submitting a report on strategies for attracting and retaining state employees with disabilities. The legislation limited the task force’s scope to recommendations regarding hiring and retaining employees with disabilities.
This bill makes revisions to Minnesota Statutes Chapter 43A. Implementing these recommendations will modernize outdated and potentially discriminatory language, create more clarity and consistency, and add capacity for essential equity work. These revisions would demonstrate the State of Minnesota’s commitment to hiring, retaining, and advancing people with disabilities.
9. New or Evolving Policies and Legislation Regarding the Disability Community
In addition to these legislative priorities, MCD will monitor and respond to any legislation or policy that affects the disability community and the organizations that support it.