Minnesota Bill Strengthens Support for Vulnerable Populations

On April 15 the Minnesota House passed SF4399, the Human Service Policy Bill. The historic 2023 legislative session budget surplus […]

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On April 15 the Minnesota House passed SF4399, the Human Service Policy Bill. The historic 2023 legislative session budget surplus allowed lawmakers to offer resources and support to our most vulnerable Minnesotans.

“The most vulnerable Minnesotans need someone in their corner and last session we addressed issues impacting those most at risk across the state,” said Rep. Peter Fischer (DFL-Maplewood). “This policy bill clarifies, changes and improves several items in last year’s bill to address concerns from the disability community and others. We continue to make tangible progress for Minnesotans with disabilities, those in recovery from substance use disorder, and recipients who rely on our waiver services to help them thrive.”

Among the legislation’s highlights:

Guarantees people with disabilities get to stay in their communities while they live in group homes by exempting certain facilities.

Modernizes deaf and hard-of-hearing statutes.

Provides for increased transparency in nursing home related party transactions.

Modifies behavioral health licensing and eligibility.

Ensures opioid treatment programs are responsive to workforce shortages and availability of counselors.

Modifies sober homes requirements so all residents can use medications for opioid use disorders and co-occurring mental health diagnoses.

The legislation phases out the special minimum wage for persons with disabilities. Since 1938, qualified employers have been authorized to pay these workers less than the applicable minimum wage. This practice has grown out of favor, and 16 states now ban subminimum wages. In 2021, the legislature created the Task Force on Eliminating Subminimum Wage, which recommended the legislature “take immediate action to end the practice by Aug. 1, 2025, and to allow for a phased implementation period. According to the Minnesota Coalition for Disability Wage Justice, the average Minnesotan under a 14C waiver makes $4.15 an hour.

A section of the legislation prohibits the classification of recovery peers as independent contractors, as highlighted in a series of KARE 11 news stories. It is important to give those on their recovery journey the support they need, and not be concerned with peers working for a company whose only interest has more to do with finances than getting help to those in need.

Video of Monday’s floor session is available on House Public Information Services YouTube channel.

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