St. Paul – Today, Representative Brian Johnson (R-Cambridge) introduced House File 2982, a bill requiring the Department of Human Services (DHS) to give public notification prior to licensing residential or nonresidential programs.
“DHS showed a serious lapse of judgment when signing the lease for a new residential treatment home in Cambridge Township, and nothing like that should happen again without public input,” said Rep. Johnson. “We live in a democracy where the state cannot blatantly disregard the needs of citizens or ignore the safety of a community in order to advance its own agenda. My bill ensures that communities will have a voice and not be blindsided by state agencies.”
House File 2982 requires the Commissioner of DHS to give written notice to affected municipalities at least 30 days before signing a purchase or lease agreement to establish a group home or treatment facility. The required written notification must be provided to all residents, schools, churches, community organizations and businesses within a half mile radius of the facility.
Additionally, at least two weeks before signing any purchase or lease agreement, DHS must also hold a public community hearing offering residents a chance to offer input on the proposed treatment home. No state funds can be used to lease or buy any property until both the written notification and public hearing requirements have been met.
Two new state-run residential treatment homes for potentially dangerous, developmentally-disabled adults are slated to open soon in Cambridge Township and Athens Township in Isanti County. People referred to the program can come from anywhere including their own home, a county jail, another group home, a homeless shelter or a community hospital. The house leased by DHS in Cambridge Township is near Calvary Baptist Church and Academy.
“What happened in Cambridge Township should not happen anywhere else,” added Rep. Johnson. “State agencies should be accountable to the people.”
House File 2982 was referred to the House Health and Human Services Policy Committee. The companion bill, Senate File 2584 was also introduced in the Minnesota State Senate today.
Johnson can be reached by phone at (651) 296-4346. He can also be contacted via e-mail at email@example.com, or via U.S. Mail at 233 State Office Building, St. Paul, MN 55155.