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Access Press - Minnesota's Disability Community Newspaper

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Dismay as key workforce report proposals fail to move ahead

Dismay as key workforce report proposals fail to move ahead A delay in acting on recommendations to address Minnesota’s direct care worker crisis has people with disabilities and their advocates wondering what more they can do to get action. Thousands struggle to find needed support staff. The report, Recommendations to Expand, Diversify, and Improve Minnesota’s Direct Care and Support Workforce Workplan, was reviewed by the Olmstead ...

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Disability impacts are eyed in miniumum wage debate

Disability impacts are eyed in miniumum wage debate Workers with disabilities and the people who provide direct support for people with disabilities are two different sides of the coin in St. Paul’s minimum wage debate. As St. Paul City Council members and Mayor Melvin Carter III push for a $15 minimum wage, the voices of the city’s disability community are being heard. Larger public ...

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Incontinence products issue back to court

Debate over a proposed state medical supply program continues in Ramsey County District Court. Opponents of the Preferred Incontinence Products Program (PIPP) are fighting a motion to dismiss their legal challenge to the program. The motion was to be heard October 11, just after Access Press went to press. The legal move dismays the members of ...

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Incontinence needs no longer at risk; state drops program

Minnesotans with disabilities who rely on incontinence products can continue to choose items that best meet their needs. A controversial medical supply program that was to start September 1 was dropped by the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS). The decision to drop the Medicaid PreferredIncontinence Products Program was made just before a temporary restraining ...

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Addressing worker shortage will require many strategies

Addressing worker shortage will require many strategies Ways to address Minnesota’s growing direct care worker shortage continue to be scrutinized. Seven main priorities, along with several related recommendations, are under study by Minnesota’s Olmstead Sub-cabinet and a working group. The report, Recommendations to Expand, Diversify, and Improve Minnesota’s Direct Care and Support Workforce Workplan, was reviewed by the Olmstead Sub-cabinet July 23. A ...

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Emergency bid fails; cuts take effect July 1 to waiver services

Emergency bid fails; cuts take effect July 1 to waiver services   Tough times are ahead for many Minnesotans with disabilities and their service providers. Efforts to stop a seven percent cut to waiver services fell short June 28. U.S. District Court Judge Wilhelmina Wright issued a 13-page ruling that allows the cuts to go forward, starting July 1 and continuing to December 31, 2019. Wright ruled against ...

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Supports, special education funds fall to governor’s veto pen

Supports, special education funds fall to governor’s veto pen Months of work disappeared with a few pen strokes as Gov. Mark Dayton May 23 vetoed the 2018 Minnesota Legislature’s major bills. Dayton nixed the tax and supplemental budget bills, sparking a war of words with the Republican-led House and Senate. The vetoes include money to rectify a looming seven percent cut in waiver services and ...

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Disability Day highlights several key needs

Disability Day highlights several key needs With the 2018 Minnesota Legislature in full swing, disability groups are making the case for a wide range of policy and spending bills. The calls for more spending for needed supports and services is bolstered by the budget forecast released at the end of February. A surplus of $329 million is projected. A deficit had ...

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Paratransit idea meets resistance

Making improvements to Twin Cities area paratransit services calls for Metropolitan Council and Minnesota Legislature action in the months ahead. Recommendations proposed by a task force are touted as providing flexibility and expanding service, while remaining in compliance with state and federal regulations. But the notion of using companies like Uber and Lyft as part ...

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2018 session gets rolling February 20

A short session, a looming election and more than the usual political acrimony loom over the Minnesota’s Legislature’s 2018 session. The gavel falls Tuesday, February 20 and disability advocacy groups will be ready. Hanging over the state capitol this session is a political and legal dispute that could tip control of the Republican-led Senate. DFL Gov. ...

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The year in review: 2017 was a year of challenges for Minnesotans with disabilities

The year in review: 2017 was a year of challenges for Minnesotans with disabilities Another year is finished, and we look back at all of the things that happened, good and bad. Access Press wishes the best for its readers in 2018. JANUARY The 2017 Minnesota Legislature gaveled into session January 3, launching one of the most potentially complex and contentious sessions in recent years. Republican House and Senate leaders and ...

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Stracke spent career as a ‘True Friend’ to many

Stracke spent career as a ‘True Friend’ to many Many happy campers have Ed Stracke to thank for their memories of summer and winter fun. Stracke stepped down January 1 as president and chief executive officer of True Friends, which provides camping and outdoor experiences for Minnesotans with disabilities. He has spent more than 33 years leading the organization. Stracke’s career with people with disabilities, ...

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Changes to skyway hours seen as a barrier to many

Changes to skyway hours seen as a barrier to many For St. Paul Lowertown resident Chris Beckstrom, skyways provide safe passage at night and in inclement weather. He uses a power chair and struggles to get around on snow and ice-covered sidewalks. Nancie has lived and worked in downtown St. Paul for more than 40 years. Downtown living is convenient for someone with lifelong disabilities. She ...

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Care issues scrutinized by committee

February 20, 2018 may be months away. But state lawmakers, Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) staff and people with disabilities are already preparing for the 2018 legislative session’s start. The Senate Committee on Human Services Reform, Finance and Policy met September 20 to review home and community-based services. The issues are being reviewed now with ...

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2017 Charlie Smith Award winner tirelessly makes a difference

2017 Charlie Smith Award winner tirelessly makes a difference Athlete and advocate Mark Braun works to make a difference, one person at a time. His own difficult start in life has resulted in a giving spirit and a desire to help others. As a teen, Braun set the pace for Minnesota high school wheelchair athletes. He is an advocate for people with disabilities, with a ...

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Longtime leaders feted: Many are honored for work during 2017 session

Longtime leaders feted: Many are honored for work during 2017 session When the Minnesota Legislature convenes in 2018, two longtime disability community champions will be missed. The Arc Minnesota’s Steve Larson, who is winding down his work as senior policy director, will step down in July after his successor is named. Anne Henry, a mainstay at the Minnesota Disability Law Center, will retire this fall. The two ...

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Access woes as skyway changes eyed

In Minnesota, skyways provide protection from the elements and access in downtown areas for residents, workers and business patrons. In St. Paul, a fight over skyway access and nuisance behavior is worrisome to people with disabilities. Changes are proposed to the city’s skyway governance ordinance, including allowing a midnight shutdown instead of the current closing between ...

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Adjourn May 22: Legislature, governor negotiate as talks go down to the wire

Adjourn May 22: Legislature, governor negotiate as talks go down to the wire Brick-and-mortar projects and a bevy of programs and service important to the disability community hang in the balance as the 2017 Minnesota Legislature nears its May 22 adjournment date. Gov. Mark Dayton and leaders in the House and Senate were meeting on budget issues as Access Press went to press. Dayton and Republican leaders of ...

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Survey shows key changes in attitudes

How do Minnesotans feel about their neighbors with developmental disabilities? Some attitudes have changed for the better over the past 50 years. Other beliefs are cause for alarm and show that there is much progress to be made. Those are key conclusion drawn from a survey released this spring by the Minnesota Governor’s Council on ...

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Uncertainty is the watchword as session is winding down

Uncertainty is the watchword as session is winding down These are troubling times for Minnesotans with disabilities and their allies. Mixed news on proposed health and human services budgets at the state capitol has many advocates wondering what more they can do to gain support. Although several programs are in line for funds, two efforts that haven’t yet gained budget traction are the Best ...

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Be aware of weather, stay safe this season

Severe Weather Awareness Week is April 17-21, but Minnesotans have already seen tornadoes and severe thunderstorms this year. That’s why it’s crucial for people with disabilities to be prepared well before thunderstorms roll in or a tornado siren sounds. Have a plan and be ready. Pay attention to weather and know what terms mean. A severe ...

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Clock is ticking: Disability issues highlighted at large rally

Clock is ticking: Disability issues highlighted at large rally “We deserve to have our voices heard and our issues addressed.” Those words, spoken by Apple Valley parent Kelly Kausel, summed up the sentiments of this year’s Disability Matters Day at the Capitol. A large crowd packed the February 28 event, filling the rotunda and lining up two deep along the second and third floor railings. ...

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Mixed news with surplus, federal cuts

Following the money at the state and federal levels has a renewed urgency for Minnesotans with disabilities and their allies. The February 28 announcement of a $1.65 billion state surplus for fiscal year 2018-2019 and a $743 million ending balance for the current biennium, has generated calls for more spending on caregiver programs and an ...

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Consumer-Directed Community Supports eyed for change

Consumer-Directed Community Supports eyed for change The push for more self-direction through the Consumer-Directed Community Supports (CDCS) program has met a positive response from legislative committees in recent weeks. Whether a good reception means funding to expand and change the program remains to be seen. The Arc Minnesota is one of the groups leading the charge for more people with disabilities to ...

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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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