March 20, 2020: The Capitol Connector View in browser

March 20, 2020


In This Issue:

  • Legislative Update: Coronavirus Response & Executive Order 20-12

  • Federal Action Alert: Tell Congress to Include People with Disabilities in COVID-19 Relief Packages

  • COVID-19 Can’t Stop the Census… Be Counted While Social Distancing!

  • Noteworthy News & Resources
Legislative Update: Coronavirus Response & Executive Order 20-12

With the onset of COVID-19 here in Minnesota, so much has changed since our last issue of The Capitol Connector. 

Last Friday, Gov. Walz signed Executive Order 20-01 and declared a peacetime state of emergency in response to the spread of coronavirus. The Commissioner outlined recommendations to prohibit large group gatherings and small group gatherings that would not allow community members to practice “social distancing”.

Given this guidance, Speaker of the House Melissa Hortman sent a letter with restrictions on visits to the State Office Building, hearing rooms, and members’ offices. There was also a mandate that further legislative action be focused on “the needs of the state at this time”. House committee hearings are postponed indefinitely.

On Monday, Senate leadership issued similar guidance and canceled all Committee hearings until further notice – except for Sen. Rosen’s Finance Committee and Sen. Abeler’s Human Services Reform Finance & Policy Committee.

Sen. Abeler took up an amendment to S.F. 4200. This reflected many of the needs for policy and regulatory flexibility as identified by members of the disability community. Our team was actively engaged in it. 

We were hopeful that the House and Senate would take up SF 4200 (with additional oversight and consumer protection language that we worked with DHS in crafting) during their floor session on Monday night. But they did not before recessing at 3:00 am.

Our policy staff took the lead on drafting the action alert that was shared on Tuesday – urging legislators to come back to the Capitol and take up the bill this week. You can find the action alert here: bit.ly/33CqvBT

Until Wednesday afternoon, it seemed likely that members would come back into session to pass the bill. But then there was an announcement that a House staffer tested positive for coronavirus.

Because of this, Gov. Walz issued Executive Order 20-12 today. This gives the Department of Human Services the necessary authority to help ensure that Minnesotans with disabilities and others who use safety net supports have access to essential programs and services. You can find Executive Order 20-12 here: adobe.ly/2J5dVSs

After the Executive Order was issued, we worked with other members of the Best Life Alliance, Minnesota Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, and PCA Reform Coalition to draft this press release in response: adobe.ly/2WxSVLW

The Arc Minnesota CEO Andrea Zuber applauded the Order, saying, “We’re deeply grateful that, in developing this order, the Governor and state agency representatives included critical consumer protection and legislative oversight language, and appreciate mechanisms being put in place to ensure consistent and clear communication as the components of the order are implemented”.

This policy and regulatory relief is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to critical efforts to help minimize the impacts of COVID-19 on people with disabilities, their families, and support professionals. Our policy team will continue working hard to navigate an ever-changing legislative landscape, while leading alongside all of you, to ensure that the needs of people with disabilities are met and their rights upheld. 

With questions or for more information about this work thus far, please contact me at aliciamunson@arcminnesota.org

Federal Action Alert: Tell Congress to Include People With Disabilities in COVID-19 Relief Bills

On Wednesday 3/17, Congress passed a second Coronavirus Relief Bill that will provide some much-needed support to people with disabilities, their families, and the direct support professional (DSP) workforce. It included an increase in federal funding for state Medicaid programs, mandatory coverage of testing, expanded nutrition assistance and unemployment insurance, and limited paid sick and leave provisions.

Here’s a helpful chart from our friends at the Association of University Centers on Disabilities that explains the different bills that have been passed:

A third relief bill is now being developed and must address the ongoing needs of people with disabilities during this crisis, including:

  • Additional funding to create a Medicaid grant program and permanent reauthorization of Money Follows the Person to support access to Home and Community-Based Services, prevent people from being institutionalized, and support the DSP workforce;
  • Raising asset limits so economic stimulus through direct cash assistance does not put people at risk of losing access to Social Security, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and/or Medicaid;
  • Maintaining access to a free and appropriate education

You can take action to make this happen! Use this link to contact Minnesota’s U.S. Senators and Representatives, and urge them to address issues impacting people with disabilities, their families, and support professionals.

COVID-19 Can’t Stop the Census… Be Counted While Social Distancing!

Are you practicing “social distancing” during the COVID-19/coronavirus outbreak? If so, that should not stop you from being counted in the 2020 census! The Arc Minnesota has made a new guide for completing the census while staying healthy and practicing social distancing: adobe.ly/3ajP0GV. The guide offers information about filling out the census online and over the phone, as well as a few other helpful tips.

You can also find this new guide on the 2020 Census page of our website: arcminnesota.org/census. There, we provide lots of good information and resources and have even included a button that directs you straight to the online census form.

With questions, more information, or for support with completing the census, contact The Arc Minnesota’s Census Mobilization Intern, Joe Lehman, at arcsupportintern@arcminnesota.org.

Noteworthy News & Resources

From the American Association of People with Disabilities:

“COVID-19 Response Package”

From Disability Scoop:

“Ed Department Offers More Special Education Guidance Amid COVID-19”

“With Self-Direction, People With Disabilities Gain Control”

“Social Security Closes Offices Nationwide”

“New Group To Help Crime Victims With Disabilities”

From the Minnesota Department of Human Services:

“Find Covid-19 updates from DHS”

From Minnesota Public Radio

“Minnesota House, Senate pass emergency COVID-19 funding bill”

From Sahan Journal:

“Immigrants are leaving Minnesota’s public aid programs. Why?”

From Session Daily:

“Walz unveils lean supplemental budget proposal in face of virus uncertainty”

Thank you to our sponsor accra for their support of our public policy work

accracare.org


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The Arc Minnesota

2446 University Ave. W. Suite 110, St. Paul
Minnesota 55114-1740 United States

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