Includes updates on newborn screening, education bills, caption bills, and more!
9/29/2022 7:34:38 PM
If you are DeafBlind or prefer to watch the video in a slow-paced, high contrast format, watch the DeafBlind friendlier ASL version instead.
Hello, I’m Alicia. I’m the government relations director for the Commission. To describe my appearance, I’m a white Hispanic woman with dark wavy hair to my shoulders, with glasses. I’m wearing a black top with quarter sleeves and silver earrings, and the background behind me is black.
Regular legislative sessions are two years, restarting after each election. Bills introduced in the first year can be carried over to the second year for further action. Now that the legislature has completed the 2021-2022 legislative session, I will summarize the outcomes of the 2021-2022 legislature.
The Universal Newborn CMV Screening Review was passed. Legislators instructed an advisory committee to recommend whether to require universal newborn screening for congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV). CMV is a common cause of hearing loss in young children. Some legislators wanted to simply provide CMV education for certain families, but MNCDHH and allies successfully pushed for universal CMV screening.
Guaranteed Access to a Landline was protected. The Senate attempted to remove the only statute that ensures every Minnesotan has access to telephone service. The loss of analog phone services would have disproportionately impacted hard of hearing Minnesotans, deaf seniors, and deaf people without access to high-speed internet. After urging from us and other advocates, the House and Senate agreed to preserve universal service protections.
More funds for captioning livestreams was passed. During the pandemic, legislators switched to remote or hybrid hearings and increased internet livestream coverage. More livestreams meant the funds for captioning livestreams was no longer sufficient. The legislators agreed and increased funds for the captioning.
Minnesota Special Education Recovery Services and Supports. This law required all Individualized Education Program (IEP) teams to schedule a meeting no later than December 1, 2021, to review the impacts of the pandemic on the child and to discuss whether new or different special education services or supports are required.
Service animal protections. The updated statutes limit when landlord can require documentation for a service animal and prohibits landlords from charging a fee for the service animal.
Applicant/employee accommodation needs. The updated human right statutes clarify that when appropriate reasonable accommodations need to be determined, employers are to begin an informal, interactive process that includes the applicant or employee who is in need of the accommodation.
The 2021 Universal Newborn CMV Screening became policy in 2022. Remember the CMV bill that passed in 2021? The advisory committee recommended adding CMV screening, the health commissioner approved, and Minnesota became first state to require universal newborn screening for CMV. Now more babies born with CMV will be identified and monitored for hearing loss.
What happened with the 2022 Legislature Historic $9B Budget Surplus?
Many of the bills we were supporting were on track to be included in end-of-session omnibus bills. Omnibus bills are the large bills that committees create from the many smaller bills they discuss during the year. Despite having a historic projected surplus of $9 billion, legislators failed to reach agreement on almost all omnibus bills. Therefore the provisions we were supporting in these omnibus bills, along with many others, did not pass. The legislature adjourned with much work unfinished.
Despite not passing, some bills made more progress than others, which means they may have the support to pass if reintroduced in 2023. For the following bills, the Commission successfully advanced them through means such as urging committee chairs to give bills hearings, writing letters of support, testifying, recruiting and working with community testifiers, hosting a community Q&A with a bill's chief author, and meeting with legislators.
CDIs in educational interpreter statute. This bill would have updated Minnesota's educational interpreter requirements to include Certified Deaf Interpreters (CDIs). The bill was closely watched by other states, and after listening to our testifiers, a reporter from the House's Session Daily decided to spotlight it in an article. We were pleased to see increased awareness of the benefits of deaf interpreters in educational settings, and look forward to revisiting this issue in 2023.
Captions in public places. This bill would have updated Minnesota's human rights statutes to clarify that not having captions displayed on TVs in public places is considered discrimination. We assembled a large and varied lineup of testifiers whose testimony was well-received, and we hope to try again in 2023.
MDS priority admission for students who have hearing loss as their primary disability. Intended to protect MDS' ability to continue its focus on deaf, deafblind, and hard of hearing students, this bill passed the Senate unanimously and had broad support in the House. We look forward to advocating for it again in 2023.
IEP Process Accommodations for Parents with Disabilities. In partnership with the Autism Society of Minnesota, we supported requiring school districts to develop a clear process for providing accommodations for parents with disabilities to be part of their child's Individual Education Program development.
Disability services accessibility task force. Had this bill become law, the Commission would have had a seat on a task force to review the accessibility of disability services.
State employees with disabilities recruitment and retention. This bill sought to increase awareness of accommodation funds, increase the number of ADA coordinators, and shorten the time for state employees with disabilities to begin receiving the same benefits as other employees. We hope to support it again in 2023.
Bus driver accessibility training. This bill had broad support and would have required the Metropolitan Council to provide training to all bus drivers on how to help passengers with disabilities safely get on or off a bus. We look forward to advocating for it in 2023.
Prescription container accessible labels. Pharmacies would have been required to provide customers the option of prescription container labels in large print, Braille, or audible format. We are already working with potential bill authors for reintroduction in 2023.
In total, we closely tracked more than 50 bills.
In 2022, there were other bills that may be of interest. Out of the few bills that did become law, the following may be of special interest to our community:
Border-to-border broadband. This new law increases funding to expand broadband infrastructure to every part of Minnesota, with the goal of ensuring every resident has access to high-speed internet. We will monitor progress as more specifics become available.
Mental health for youth. The past several years have been challenging especially for children. Legislators made many changes to the law to allow more youth to receive mental health services. These include changes such as approving more crisis stabilization and inpatient beds for children and changing requirements to allow more children to become eligible for intensive behavioral health treatment services.
Foster youth ombudsperson board. Legislators created a foster youth ombudsperson board, which means children and teens in foster care will now have access to advocates to help them resolve issues with the foster care system.
The Minnesota Commission of the Deaf, DeafBlind & Hard of Hearing thanks:
Alicia Lane, Government Relations Director.
Rita Van Der Puije for voiceover.
Keystone Interpreting Solutions for video production.