2021 Legislative Agenda
Mission as defined by statute: Subd. 3.Mission. The commission shall serve as the principal agency of the state to advocate on behalf of Minnesotans who are deaf, deafblind, and hard-of-hearing by working to ensure those persons have equal access to the services, programs, and opportunities available to others. Minn. Stat. 256C.28
MNCDHH has two key items for legislative action this year. In addition, MNCDHH will support several bills led by others.
Preserve funding for existing programs
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected this legislative session. Legislators will focus on saving money to reduce the deficit. This means that MNCDHH must advocate to preserve the funds allotted to programs and services that impact deaf, deafblind, and hard of hearing Minnesotans.
DeafBlind intervener language
MNCDHH wants to insert the definition of an intervener into the education statute as a first step in ensuring appropriate support services for students who are DeafBlind. We are introducing this concept to legislators this year (2021) and propose the full bill in 2022.
Bills led by others
MNCDHH's board has voted to support the following bills led by others.
Minnesota State Academies HF1065 / SF0960
The Minnesota State Academies (MSA) asked MNCDHH to support changes to their budget allocations including their operational budget, new staff positions, technology funds, and retention of rental income. The House lists $14,056,000 for 2022 and $14,317,000 for 2023. The Senate lists $13,794,000 for 2022, and $13,801,000 for 2023. Both chambers recommend an increase for MSA.
Metro Deaf School
Metro Deaf School (MDS) asked MNCDHH to support a quick fix to legislation that will allow parents to select an early intervention program for their child who is DHH. The time of the program selection was to start right at birth – age 3. Currently, placement/parent choice can only occur with Part C of IDEA (starting at age 3).
After discussing with some legislators, MDS felt that this year was not the right year to bring forth the bill again. MDS will pursue this bill in the future. MDS is also currently providing services from birth - age 3 thanks to grants.
Closed Captioning (Support is contingent on making changes in language) HF1134 / SF1136
This is an idea from Representative Daniels with his constituent Sonny Wasilowski. This bill requires closed-captioned television in certain circumstances; appropriating money; amending the Minnesota Statutes 2018 proposing coding for new law in Minnesota. In developing a comprehensive state emergency operations plan and emergency management program, the state must incorporate plans for closed-captioning and real-time captioning for television. It also requires MNCDHH to partner with DHHSD to create a public awareness campaign for businesses, including but not limited to hotels, restaurants, bars, hospitals, and shopping malls, and government entities to provide closed-captioned televisions. It required MNCDHH to develop a grant program for nonprofits to create a public awareness campaign on the need for closed captioning and provide training on use of closed captioning.
MNCDHH has already explained to Rep. Daniels about the lack of a timeline in this bill and lack of ongoing funds to accomplish the tasks. MNCDHH also does not provide grants or grant opportunities. We have asked Rep. Daniels to make modifications to the bill but have not yet seen the new language.
Modification of Language and Reimbursement for CDIs in Classrooms HF1408 / SF2291
This is an idea proposed by David and Gloria Nathanson with support of their legislator, Rep. Becker-Finn. This will modify language in educational interpreter law. Currently, the language requires that an educational interpreter must complete an Interpreter Training Program (ITP). Nationwide, there is no ITP for Certified Deaf Interpreters (CDIs). The language in this bill would allow a CDI to work in schools without completing an ITP program and would allow the school district to be reimbursed for the salary of the CDI.
There are several other proposed ideas but MNCDHH is not officially supporting them at this time. More information can be found in MNCDHH's legislative updates. Be sure to subscribe to our newsletters!