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Access Press - Minnesota's Disability Community Newspaper

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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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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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