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Access Press - Minnesota's Disability Community Newspaper

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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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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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