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April Legislative Update

Which bills are moving on to the next stage

4/30/2019 10:34:13 AM

ASL version

If you are DeafBlind or prefer to watch the video in a slow-paced, high contrast format, watch the DeafBlind friendly ASL version instead. 

English version

On April 12, 2019, the legislature reached its third deadline for bills to be heard. MNCDHH has good news to report; all of the bills that we took the lead on advanced to the next level. The DeafBlind Intervenor bill is on its way to final passage. The remaining 6 bills are in omnibus bills, which is a large bill that includes many different bills that were heard and passed out of a committee. These 6 bills are either in the House omnibus bill only, or the Senate omnibus bill only, or they are in both bills. All will be part of the conference committee and could still get passed so we are hopeful.

The bills led by others and MNCDHH supports, have similar status as MNCDHH’s bills. They have passed out of committee, either through the House, the Senate, or both, and will move on to the next step.

Only one bill did not make it through, the hearing aid insurance bill.

Next, we will share specific updates for each bill.

MNCDHH: Funding increase. Jobs and Economic Commerce and Energy Omnibus HF2800 / Energy and Utilities Omnibus SF1692. MNCDHH leads.

The Commission’s request for an increase of $450,000 was included in both the House and the Senate bills. The additional funds would cover a government relations specialist, a policy analyst, studies and research, leadership training, and increased costs of accommodations. This bill will be discussed in the House and Senate Jobs, Energy and Utilities Conference Committee.

Education: Metro Deaf School. Ed Finance Omnibus HF2400. MNCDHH leads.

The House created a special grant program for MDS for $100,000 to cover the costs of children birth to age three for the next four years. The Senate would not give the bill a hearing. We will work to convince the Senate to agree to include the grant in the final bill. This will not completely fix MDS’s problem but will provide the school with enough money to cover the estimated costs of children birth through 36 months for several years. Once they have demonstrated their success, they will be in a stronger position to get into the regular payment system and can come back to the legislature in two to four years. First, we have to get the Senate to agree to the House positions. This bill will be discussed in the House and Senate Education Policy and Finance Conference Committee.

Education: Reestablish teacher prep program for teachers of the blind and visually impaired. Higher Ed Omnibus HF2544 / Higher Ed Omnibus SF2415. Led by others.

The House included $64,000 for 2020 and 2021 to study reestablishing a program. The Senate included $50,000 for one year. This will be discussed in the House and Senate Higher Education Conference Committee.

Education: Support additional funding for the Minnesota State Academies. MSAD Bonding - Capitol Bonding bill HF2529. MSAD Operations- Senate Education Finance Omnibus SF7. Led by MSA.

MSAD got the request for their operating costs in the House, but they only got their base in the Senate. They got $13 million in the House for asset preservation, a safety corridor and improving mechanical systems and accessibility in the dormitories. MSA has been providing legislative updates in their monthly Superintendent’s Corner. Be sure to follow them.

Health and Human Services: Add a definition of interveners, paraprofessionals who work with deafblind children, HF1983 (Loeffler) / SF2126 (Abeler). MNCDHH leads.

The bill had its final passage in the House. We will advocate for its final passage in the Senate. We think this will happen soon. Thanks to Sally, Mike and Andrew Prouty for their advocacy.

Health and Human Services: Renew the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Advisory Committee in the Minnesota Department of Health and amend the statute include Deaf Mentors and the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf staff. HHS Omnibus HF2200. MNCDHH leads.

The bill is in the House Health and Human Services Omnibus Bill. It didn’t get a hearing in the Senate because they ran out of time. The Chair of the Senate Committee said she would agree with the House version. The bill will be discussed in the House and Senate Health and Human Services Conference Committee.

Health Insurance: Mandate for fully-insured health plans to cover hearing aids for adults, HF486 (Schultz) / SF811 (Little). Led by others.

This bill did not advance. We will try again in the future.

Employment: Retention study for state employees with disabilities and strengthen affirmative action laws. Senate Government Policy Finance and Elections Omnibus SF2227. MNCDHH leads.

This bill was included in the Senate, but not in the House. We believe this bill is very important and are working hard to make sure that it gets included in the final bill and that the conference committee supports the Senate position. We are working to address Minnesota Management and Budget’s concerns. It’s not OK that 56% of state employees with disabilities leave state government within a year. The state needs to create a more inclusive and welcoming environment for people with disabilities to contribute their talents and meet workforce needs. The study will be addressed in the House and Senate Government Policy and Finance State Government Conference Committee.

Employment: Support $8 million increase for Vocational Rehabilitation Services. House Jobs and Economic Commerce and Energy Omnibus HF2800 ($8 million) Senate Jobs Omnibus Bill SF2611 ($7 million). Led by DEED.

VR got its request for full funding in the House at $8 million and it got $7 million in the Senate.

Accessible IT at the Capitol. State Government Finance Omnibus HF1935 / Senate Government Policy Finance and Elections Omnibus SF2227. MNCDHH leads.

The bill is in both the House and the Senate omnibus bills and will be heard in the House and Senate State Government Finance and Policy Conference Committee.

Modernization of the Telecommunication Equipment Distribution Program. HHS Omnibus HF2200 / Human Services Reform and Finance SF92. Led by others.

Both the House and the Senate included their request for $211,000 to address interpreter shortages and to make policy changes that will allow them to provide more services and more equipment in the telecommunication distribution program.

Voting: Remove limit on number of voters a person may assist in an election, HF94 (Vang) / SF586 (Hawj), Led by others.

The bill was heard in the House and didn’t get a hearing in the Senate. It does not have a good chance of passage. It will be discussed in the State Government and Elections Conference Committee.

What happens next?

The conference committees began their discussions on the House and Senate versions of bills after legislators returned from their spring break on April 23, 2019. The House and the Senate are busy appointing members of the Conference Committees. The Committees will have to agree on what will be in the final bills. Once the bills are passed from their Committees, they will go to the floor of the House and the Senate for final passage. Then they get sent to the Governor to be signed. The Governor can either sign the bills, or veto all or parts of the bills. Things are moving fast. We still have more work to do before session ends on May 20, 2019.


hearing aids

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