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Access Press - Minnesota's Disability Community Newspaper

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Families call for state intervention, parental fees ‘out of control’

Families call for state intervention, parental fees ‘out of control’ High fees are keeping too many Minnesota families out of the Medical Assistance/ Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act (TEFRA) program. Families in the program make many sacrifices to pay fees meant to keep children with disabilities healthy and living in the community. More than 50 parents and children gathered January 28 in Roseville to share their ...

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Minnesota Legislature starts complex, contentious session

Minnesota Legislature starts complex, contentious session The 2017 Minnesota Legislaturegaveled into session January 3, launching one of the most potentially complex and contentious sessions in recent years. State lawmakers and Gov. Mark Dayton must reach agreement on a two-year budget for the state, or face a crippling government shutdown like the one in 2011. All side must also reach agreement on what ...

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Session starts January 3 – Care worker crisis, spend-down on tap

Session starts January 3 – Care worker crisis, spend-down on tap The need to address Minnesota’s care worker shortage, calls for Medical Assistance (MA) reform and continued work on business accessibility are among issues headed for the 2017 Minnesota Legislature. The Minnesota State Council on Disability’s annual legislative forum December 5 provided an opportunity to hear legislative priorities from several groups. One common theme of the session ...

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Charlie Smith Award winner Cliff Poetz gives call to action

Charlie Smith Award winner Cliff Poetz gives call to action 2016 Access Press Charlie Smith Award winner Cliff Poetz personifies the rallying cry, “Nothing about us, without us.” The legendary self-advocate, whose work has taken him from the streets of Minneapolis to Washington, D.C., was honored November 4 at the newspaper’s annual banquet in Bloomington. The award is named for the late Charlie Smith, Access Press founding ...

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Programs relaunched: State aims to hire people with disabilities

Programs relaunched: State aims to hire people with disabilities Connect 700 allows people with disabilities to demonstrate their skills through an on-thejob trial. The Supported Worker Program allows up to three people with disabilities to share one of 50 full-time government positions. State agencies that sponsor the positions will integrate employees into existing teams and will provide job coaches as needed. “That’s progress, but we ...

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2016 Honoree – Cliff Poetz is remarkable for decades of community service

2016 Honoree – Cliff Poetz is remarkable for decades of community service A longtime advocate for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities is the 2016 Access Press Charlie Smith Award winner. Clifford Poetz has been a disability rights activist since the early 1970s, with many remarkable accomplishments to his credit. He will be the guest of honor at the Access Press banquet November 4 in Bloomington. News of the award was a surprise to Poetz. “I was very humbled to learn that ...

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Waiver lawsuit to proceed

A class action lawsuit centered on management of Minnesota’s Home and Community-Based Waiver Services Program can proceed, a U.S. District Court judge ruled July 28. The court rejected a request by state officials to dismiss the lawsuit, which centers on deprivation of more than $1 billion in services to people with disabilities. The next step could ...

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Many bills stalled: Legislative session’s outcome is disappointing to community

Many bills stalled: Legislative session’s outcome is disappointing to community The 2016 Minnesota Legislature is likely to head back to the capitol this summer. Although the regular session ended May 23, Gov. Mark Dayton’s pocket veto of the tax bill mean state lawmakers will need to come back for a special session. But whether the House, Senate and governor can agree on the terms of a special session wasn’t clear as Access Press went to press. Dayton declined to sign the tax bill ...

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Uncertainty as session nears end

Uncertainty as session nears end [caption id="attachment_20683" align="alignleft" width="228"] Supporters of the increase in compensation for caregivers filled a plaza by the State Office Building April 19 to call for the needed funding[/caption] Minnesotans with disabilities, their families and caregivers face uncertain times as a May 23 adjournment date looms for the 2016 Minnesota Legislature. Advocates working on many issues were forging ...

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Deadlines loom: Legislative session rolls onward

Deadlines loom: Legislative session rolls onward Dozens of measures important to Minnesotans with disabilities hang in the balance as state lawmakers approach the final weeks of the 2016 legislative session. Medical Assistance reform, the quest for a pay raise for caregivers and many other bills were still in the hunt as the April issue of Access Press went to press. Bills on special education, mental health, accessibility, state facilities ...

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Paratransit faced many changes

Metro Mobility administrators admit that 2015 was a busy and at times bumpy year for the Twin Cities paratransit provider, with a number of changes in how service is provided. But one change, made March 14 at a listening session in St. Paul, further irked some clients. At the forum which drew more than 100 people to Wilder Foundation, persons with questions or concerns weren’t allowed to address the group ...

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Tight timelines: Self-advocates on the move as 2016 legislative session begins

It’s a daunting combination: a smaller-than-anticipated state surplus, a $1.4 billion bonding bill, a short legislative session and many lawmakers taking their final bows in an election year with every House and Senate seat up for grabs. These are among issues hanging over the 2016 session of the Minnesota Legislature. Legislators went back to work March 8 under the shadow of the contentious 2015 session, which ended without agreement on major measures ...

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One more session of detours

Self-advocates and disability community groups are already immersed in the work of the 2016 Minnesota Legislature. Participation will again take some planning ahead as the session, which began March 8, marks the third and final year of major capitol renovations. It will again be a session with no rallies or events in the rotunda as that area and most of the rest of the capitol remain closed. Groups will either ...

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Legal settlement: St. Paul must rebuild street curb ramps

Legal settlement: St. Paul must rebuild street curb ramps [caption id="attachment_20425" align="alignleft" width="335"] Pedestrians in Madison, WI. benefit from ADA-compliant ramps. Photo from Ped/Bike Images[/caption] People with disabilities will have an easier time crossing St. Paul streets, as a result of a settlement agreement announced January 25 by Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid’s Minnesota Disability Law Center. The city has agreed to upgrade curb ramps on some of its busiest ...

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Right to die arguments underway

Minnesota’s proposed “Compassionate Care Act” would allow persons with terminal illnesses to obtain medication and end their lives if a number of criteria could be met. Several advocacy groups contend that if passed, the measure would give people more control over end-of-life decisions and end suffering. But others, including some disability rights groups, faith leaders and physicians, argue that legalizing the right to die creates a slippery slope of moral, legal and ethical ...

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History Note: ARRM marked 45 years’ service in 2015

Access Press is not the only Minnesota disability community member marking a major anniversary in 2015. Here is a look at three of our community counterparts: ARRM marked its 45 years’ service to Minnesotans with disabilities. What is now ARRM began in the summer of 1970. A small group of Minnesota leaders from private residential facilities for people with what was then ...

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Five percent: increase Best Life Alliance rallies to support caregivers

Five percent: increase Best Life Alliance rallies to support caregivers More pay is needed for those who care for people with disabilities and elders. The Best Life Alliance, a coalition of more than 130 groups statewide, has launched its quest for $90 million from the 2016 Minnesota Legislature. Group supporters filled the State Office Building media room December 1 to make their case for an increase. They were joined by ...

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Annual meeting MA reform will be disability consortium’s focus

Annual meeting MA reform will be disability consortium’s focus Playing off yet another year of construction at the State capitol, the Minnesota Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (MN-CCD) will start the 2016 legislative session with a theme of “constructing our future.” More than four dozen members of the consortium attended the group’s annual meeting December 4 at Goodwill-Easter Seals in St. Paul. They looked ahead to the 2016 legislative session, ...

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Olmstead approved; work remains

Approval of Minnesota’s Olmstead Plan September 29 caps almost four years’ efforts. The plan provides clarity as to how people with disabilities will be more fully integrated into the greater community and how supports and services will be provided. However, questions remain about everything from how the plan will be implemented to whether it means ...

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Months of debate: Crisis residence relocation wins long fight

Months of debate: Crisis residence relocation wins long fight People Inc.’s Diane Ahrens Crisis Residence will relocate from St. Paul’s Hamline-Midway area to the Hazel Park area on the city’s East Side. Months of debate at the neighborhood, St. Paul Planning Commission and City Council level ended September 10 with a 5-2 council vote of approval. The council approved a zoning change for 1784 Lacrosse Ave. that allows ...

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2015 winner: Her commitment to community sets Akerman-Frank apart

2015 winner: Her commitment to community sets Akerman-Frank apart Experiencing domestic violence or sexual assault is difficult and painful. Additional challenges face people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Deaf advocate Jessalyn Akerman-Frank is a pioneer in bridging and closing gaps between deaf and hard of hearing survivors and the multiple systems that provide services. She is known nationally for her work with advocates, ...

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Fun for all ADA anniversary celebration time for rejoicing, reflection

Fun for all ADA anniversary celebration time for rejoicing, reflection Passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 25 years ago brought many positive changes to the lives of people with disabilities. Curb curbs, assistive technology and accessible facilities were unheard of then. But much more needs to be done. That was the message July 26 as more than 1,000 people attended the state’s ADA Family Day celebration at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul. Families enjoyed the chance to ...

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August 27 through September 7: More accommodations at Minnesota State Fair

August 27 through September 7:  More accommodations at Minnesota State Fair People with disabilities spoke and the Minnesota State Fair staff listened. The result is more accessible parking spaces, respite space and additional accommodations. Changes have been made to the West End Market’s transit hub, which opened in 2014. The transit hub and new entrance are meant to direct more traffic to the western part of the fairgrounds. [caption id="attachment_19895" align="alignleft" width="275"] The Minnesota State Council on Disability ...

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We’re 25, too! Access Press celebrating a quarter-century of our news

We’re 25, too! Access Press celebrating a quarter-century of our news Access Press and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) both reach the quarter-century mark this year. So it’s fitting that we take a look back at our founding editor, Charlie Smith. Smith died in 2001 but his impact on disability issues as a journalist is still felt today. He is not only honored as a determined and resilient fighter for disability and human rights, ...

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Access changes set – Employment programs, housing are special session wins

Access changes set – Employment programs, housing are special session wins Gains in employment and housing funding, as well as access to projects funded by the 2008 state Legacy Act, are among highlights of a chaotic, cramped and historic legislative special session June 13. The 2015 Minnesota Legislature wrapped up business in the State Office Building due to capitol renovations. House and Senate and staff members squeezed into hearing rooms ...

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