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February 6, 2017: Legislative Update

Acoustics & loops, funding for DHHSD & MSAD and more

2/6/2017 4:28:49 PM

ASL version

English version

It was another busy week at the Capitol. Here’s the update

Bill Hearing on Good Acoustics & Loops

The bill to require Good Acoustics and Hearing Loops in State Funded Construction (HF 423) had a hearing in the House Government Operations Committee. The author, Representative Tama Theis, told the committee that she cares deeply about the bill because she’s seen her husband, who has hearing loss, struggle to participate in noisy settings.

There was testimony given by Rick Nelson, of Loop Minnesota.

He explained how good acoustics and hearing loops go with hearing aids and cochlear implants, the same way that ramps go with wheelchairs – the hearing aid or wheelchair by itself does not make a space accessible for people with hearing loss.

More testimony was provided by Beth Fraser, the Commission’s Government Relations Director.

She educated the committee that 20% of Minnesotans have hearing loss and that 2/3 of people over 70 have age-related hearing loss. She argued that making places more accessible to people with hearing loss will keep them more active and healthier, which is good for them and ultimately for the state budget. The trio convinced the committee that the bill is a good idea. Several legislators on the committee spoke in favor of the bill and said that they want to add their names as co-authors. They passed the bill unanimously. It now needs to be heard by the House Capital Investment Committee.

DHHSD Bill Introduced

The bill to modernize and increase funding for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Division, which includes an increase in funding for the Deaf Mentor Family Program was introduced in the House.

HF 774 is authored by Representatives Nels Pierson from Rochester, Joe McDonald from Delano, and Dave Pinto from Saint Paul.

We expect it to be introduced in the Senate next week.

We are working on getting the rest of our bills written and lining up legislative authors for them.

What will funding for MSAD and DHHSD be used for?

We received questions from a person that receives these updates about what the funding for MSAD and DHHSD would be used for. We’re glad that you’re reading and curious for more information. Here’s the answer:

The Minnesota State Academies – both for the Deaf and for the Blind – have five different requests for funding. Three are included in the Governor’s bonding proposal – this means that the State would sell bonds to help pay for construction or maintenance of the state’s assets, like buildings and roads. They are:

  • $2 million to preserve and update Noyes Hall
  • $50,000 for design planning to improve the safety of the school buildings
  • $600,000 to build a track for the students

Then the academies have two requests included in the regular state budget:

  • $500,000 to repair, replace and maintain the facilities.
  • $2.2 million dollars over two years to improve the educational programs. This funding would be used to add 7 staff, including a specialist to help students explore careers, a communication specialist, a middle school teacher, two Assistant Principals to create curriculum and provide training, two dormitory staff, an American Sign Language Specialist, and a maintenance worker. The funds would also allow the academies to purchase updated resources, textbooks, and assessments.

The increased funding for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Division would pay for:

  • the continuation of mental health services in American Sign Language (ASL) for children and adults throughout the state
  • the continuation of services for DeafBlind children and adults
  • the addition of a psychiatrist who can provide services in ASL
  • technology and training for staff so that they can establish satellite offices in other regional centers and/or places in other regional centers where clients can connect to staff using video phones or other technology

Lobby Day

A lot will be happening this year and we need you to be a part of it. Sign up for Lobby Day on March 8th.

And stay tuned for alerts! You can sign up for part of the day, or the full day, whatever works best for your schedule! Please register by February 28th.

Legislator and interpreter schedules book fast so early registration is best!

Awards will be presented during the rally. MNCDHH is seeking nominations for community members who have accomplished a landmark achievement or contributed to the deaf, deafblind, and hard of hearing community within the past 2 years (2015-2016). Please nominate individuals you believe should be recognized.

For More Information and Updates

For more information and to sign up for alerts, visit our website.


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