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Omnibus human services bill passes House, heads to Senate

The omnibus human services policy bill addresses a range of issues touching on topics like child care, foster care, disability services, community supports, and civil commitment. 

“When you don’t have a budget target, there are no limits to the amount of good ideas you can include. This bill is full of good ideas that will help Minnesotans,” said Rep. Rena Moran (DFL-St. Paul), who sponsors SSHF11.

The House passed the bill, as amended, 124-6 Friday evening. It now goes to the Senate, which passed an earlier version of the bill 66-0 during the regular legislative session. Sen. Jim Abeler (R-Anoka) is the Senate sponsor.

The legislation is specific to human services policy and merges Moran’s passion for children and family services with Abeler’s passion for disability services, resulting in a “comprehensive and well-rounded” bill that ”captured the goals of both bodies,” Moran said.

A separate omnibus health care bill was passed during regular session.

Notable provisions include language that would:

  • call for all children entering foster care to receive prenatal alcohol exposure screenings;
  • require students in foster care to remain enrolled in their prior schools unless it is determined that doing so is not in their best interest;
  • require students in foster care to be enrolled in a new school within seven days if they change schools;
  • require agencies to arrange phone calls between parents and foster parents, to better improve coordination of care, unless doing so would put the child or foster parents in danger;
  • provide an extension to the adult foster care moratorium exception that allows certain facilities to have a fifth bed;
  • allow military child care providers to receive funding from the state’s child care assistance program;
  • extend an exception that would allow families to participate in “the first three years of life demonstration project” without being financially penalized;
  • require that direct support staff working with people with disabilities receive sexual violence prevention training during orientation;
  • remove reporting requirements for physicians providing prenatal care to a patient struggling with substance abuse;
  • allow cars to be considered “assets” for participants in the Minnesota family assets for independence initiative;
  • modify service planning meeting requirements for people entering home and community-based services;
  • update the law to better reflect how civil commitments work;
  • expand the number of children eligible to receive respite care grants;
  • permit any minor living apart from their parent or legal guardian to consent to receive homeless youth and sexually exploited youth services; and
  • allow tribes and counties to enter into written agreements that will clarify their responsibilities in handling maltreatment reports involving American Indian children.

The bill would also make clarifications, technical corrections, conforming and technical changes, update terminology and definitions, and address consistency issues in current law.

An amendment removed Article 9 of the bill, which would have authorized a 60-day extension of emergency powers granted to the Department of Human Services after the conclusion of the state’s COVID-19 peacetime emergency.

This “ramp-down period” is “vital” for both counties and service recipients, but had yet to reach consensus and will need to be considered separately, Moran said.

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