The Legislature was supposed to finish their work and end on Monday (May 22nd). However, they did not finish negotiating with the Governor in time, so they are holding a special session to finish passing the budget bills. The special session was only supposed to last one day, but there are disagreements between all of the legislators, so the special session will last longer.
For the most part, we can share what is included in the bills that the legislature is considering. Depending on what happens in negotiations, the bills still could change. Also, we do not know if the Governor will sign the bills or veto them.
Here’s where things stand:
Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Division (DHHSD): Modernize the services and increase funding: INCLUDED IN BILL, WITH A SMALLER FUNDING INCREASE THAN WE ASKED FOR
Strengthening Commission: Increase funding to expand Commission’s impact for advocating with deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing Minnesotans: INCLUDED IN BILL
Education: Increased funding for Deaf Mentor Family Program: INCLUDED IN BILL BUT DOES NOT SPECIFY HOW MUCH
Education: Funding and infrastructure for the Minnesota State Academies for the Deaf and Blind: INCLUDED IN SEVERAL BILLS
Education: Analysis on how assistive technology is used by students with disabilities and have MDE give report to legislature in February 2018: INCLUDED IN BILL
Education: Funding for Adult Basic Education at ThinkSelf: NOT INCLUDED IN BILL
Employment: Keep Accommodation Fund for State Employees: Keep $200,000 in funding per year but a new (and bad) policy was added. Now only half the cost will be refunded for each accommodation: INCLUDED IN BILL WITH BAD POLICY CHANGE
Employment: Funding to eliminate waiting lists for Vocational Rehabilitation Services: INCLUDED IN BILL
Age-Related Hearing Loss: Require good acoustics and hearing loops in state-funded construction: INCLUDED IN BILL
Age-Related Hearing Loss: Training for staff at assisted living facilities about age-related hearing loss. Next, we will work with stakeholders to develop the training. The stakeholders include Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Division, audiologists, and the University of Minnesota. PASSED INTO LAW (Effective January 1, 2018)
Communication Access: Good news. Our fears that a bill would be introduced by another organization to impose limits on requirements to make websites accessible did not happen: NOT INCLUDED IN BILL, which is what we wanted.
Elections: Changes to protect voters’ privacy when using accessible voting equipment: NOT INCLUDED IN BILL, because it was only needed if a certain new type of accessible voting machine was allowed. It was not, so it is a non-issue.
For More Information and Updates
For more information and to sign up for alerts, visit our website. www.mncdhh.org.