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Access Press - Minnesota's Disability Community Newspaper

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Mental health saw gains: 2015 regular session end had mixed results

With the regular legislative session over, Minnesota’s disability community is weighing its gains and losses. The regular session gaveled to a close May 18, ending with a fight between Gov. Mark Dayton and legislators over education funding. Education – including early childhood to grade 12 special education – is just one of the issues that will be on the table during the early June ...

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Adjournment date nears – Many issues unresolved as legislative session winds down

Adjournment date nears – Many issues unresolved as legislative session winds down Months of lobbying are coming to down to waiting and wondering about Minnesota’s disability communities’ legislation. The Minnesota House and Senate passed health and human services funding bills in late April, sending them to a conference committee that began meeting the first week of May. While both bills contained many priorities for Minnesotans with disabilities and ...

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Many priorities still in play as 2015 session continues

Many priorities still in play as 2015 session continues [caption id="attachment_19337" align="alignright" width="345"] Courtesy of ARRM[/caption] As the state’s biennial budget takes shape, Minnesotans with disabilities and dozens of advocacy groups are working to make sure their needs aren’t left out. But much was uncertain as the 2015 Minnesota Legislature returned April 7 from spring break. In the six weeks before the end of the session, difficult decisions must be made on state spending. For the disability ...

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Access to transit is the focus

Green Line light rail is a welcome transportation option for people with disabilities, with easy boarding of trains and plenty of space for wheelchairs and mobility scooters. Getting to the trains from area neighborhoods still creates problems. That’s significant because about 9,050 people with disabilities live within a few blocks of the Green Line, which extends from downtown St. Paul to downtown Minneapolis. Studies from September 2014 showed that more than 1,000 ...

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2015 session nears mid-point with calls for state spending

As the 2015 Minnesota Legislature approaches the session’s mid-point, Minnesota’s disability advocates and organizations are saying, “Show us the money.” Not only did the state’s February forecast show an increase in Minnesota’s budget surplus, there is also growing outcry over unspent millions of dollars set aside to serve people with disabilities. The two issues are likely ...

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Women helped meet equipment, health care needs

A generous grant represents a shift in focus for a Minneapolis organization with a long history of helping people in need. The Crippled Child Relief Fund gave $85,000 to EquipaLife, a donation described on page 5 in this issue of Access Press. As fund leaders decide to shift focus and change the group’s name, it’s time to look back at a ...

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Transition continues for program

Minnesota’s transition from Personal Care Assistance (PCA) to Community First Services and Supports (CFSS) continues through 2015, as program changes are reviewed by a group of state officials, disability service organizations and advocates. CFSS is a self-directed home and community-based service being developed by the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS). Like the PCA Consumer Support ...

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Hotel access poses unique issues

Hotel access poses unique issues Plans to convert a Summit Avenue mansion into a 10-unit boutique hotel have hit a bump, as the St. Paul Heritage Preservation Commission (HPC) seeks more information. The project is expected to return to the commission January. The main issue of debate appears to be how wheelchair users access the building, either through a front ...

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You can’t get there from here: State capitol renovation work poses challenges this session

You can’t get there from here: State capitol renovation work poses challenges this session Attending a rally, speaking at a legislative hearing or visiting state lawmakers takes time and planning for members of Minnesota’s disability community. In 2015, it’s going to get a lot more complicated. Ongoing capitol renovations will cause plenty of headaches and confusion. A $272.7 million comprehensive restoration is underway to restore and preserve the 1905 capitol building. Work began in fall of 2013 and ...

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Michael Bjerkesett – Accessible housing needs are his life’s calling and his lasting legacy

Michael Bjerkesett – Accessible housing needs are his life’s calling and his lasting legacy Countless people with disabilities have Michael J. Bjerkesett to thank for providing affordable, accessible housing options. Bjerkesett stepped down September 30 as the executive director of the National Handicap Housing Institute, Inc. He founded NHHI in 1975 for the express purpose of improving the independent lifestyles of persons with physical disabilities, specifically mobility impairments. The nonprofit, ...

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St. Paul eyeing UberX, Lyft

St. Paul may become the latest city to legalize a new transportation option, a network of companies including UberX and Lyft. Disability rights advocates will be watching the process closely, due to concerns about accessible vehicles. Mayor Chris Coleman announced the need for regulation during his 2015 city budget address. “New transportation options like UberX and ...

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Life in community is rules’ focus

New regulations for Medicaid, Home and Community-Based Services could alter the lives of people with disabilities. That’s why it’s important for Minnesotans who receive Medicaid to weigh in on the proposed federal community setting regulations and their impacts. More than a dozen people attended a July 22 session at Lutheran Social Services in St. Paul ...

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Exploitation was an unfortunate fair tradition

  Going to a county or state fair can be a highlight of the summer. It’s fun to see the exhibits and animals, try new foods, take a ride or play a game of skill. But one dubious part of the history of many fairs, including the Minnesota State Fair, is that of the sideshow. The Disability ...

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Changes come to Metro Mobility

Changes are coming, now and in the future, to Metro Mobility. Two service-related changes took effect July 1. These changes affect the “no show” practices and maximum ride times. A third change slated for later this year is a new automated phone system. A fourth change, to be implemented by spring 2015, will reduce the number of para-transit service ...

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Green Line light rail launch draws huge crowds

Forty years after planning began, Green Line light rail trains are gliding between Minneapolis and St. Paul. The launch of the Twin Cities’ second light rail line drew more than 100,000 riders during opening weekend, June 14-15 when rides were free. Metro Transit spokesperson John Siqveland said the line is expected to carry 27,500 riders ...

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2014 legislative session saw many more gains than losses

2014 legislative session saw many more gains than losses Minnesota’s disability community saw many more gains than losses during the 2014 legislative session. The 5% Campaign for an increase in personal care attendant wages, changes in programs for people with autism, bonding requests and changes to many other education, health and job training programs were among the issues that found support at the state ...

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Award-winning show – ‘Disability Viewpoints’ may have to move

Award-winning show – ‘Disability Viewpoints’ may have to move The television show “Disability Viewpoints.” which provides information by and for Minnesotans with disabilities, could be affected by North Suburban Communication Commission’s renewal of a franchise agreement with Comcast. “Disability Viewpoints” and many other locally produced community interest, youth activity and sports programs could lose their longtime home if changes are made at CTV. Proponents ...

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Olmstead planning continues

Work on Minnesota’s Olmstead Plan continues with listening sessions and plan revisions. Another round of plan listening sessions got underway in April and continues through August. The comments made at listening sessions will help shape the plan, which is going through bimonthly revision reports. The Olmstead Subcabinet presented its latest status report April 22 to U.S. ...

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History Note – A look back through the pages of Access Press

The story of disability in Minnesota, as told through the pages of Access Press, is one of victories and defeats, activism and awards. As the paper approaches its 25th year, it’s worth a look back to see what topics and people were making the news in the paper’s early days. In May 1990 Access Press published ...

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CFSS moving to unknown start date

The state’s upcoming Community First Supports and Services (CFSS) program has had its twists and during the 2014 legislative session. What everyone is waiting for now is to see how the federal Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) will act on Minnesota’s new program. CFSS will replace Minnesota’s Personal Care Attendant (PCA) Program. Minnesota Department ...

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Caregivers could see wage hike approved

Caregivers could see wage hike approved The 5% Campaign, one of the highest-profile efforts at the 2104 Minnesota Legislature, is close to reaching its goal. But getting the increase close to approval hasn’t been easy. Nor is anything certain until Gov. Mark Dayton approve state spending, including the health and human services budget. [caption id="attachment_18209" align="alignleft" width="345"] Photo courtesy of Jane McClure[/caption] The ...

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2014 session : Safe Schools wins approval, session nearing May end

2014 session : Safe Schools wins approval, session nearing May end Self-advocates and organizations for people with disabilities are still monitoring dozens of issues as the 2014 Minnesota Legislature enters its final weeks. Many issues are still in play as state lawmakers approach a May 19 adjournment date. Numerous proposals were still unresolved as Access Press went to press, including additional funding for state academics, jobs funding, ...

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Weigh in on key state plan

The Olmstead Plan, Minnesota’s roadmap to improving services to people with disabilities, is awaiting more community input. Draft modifications will be posted online in mid-March and the public is asked to weigh in with further changes. The Olmstead Plan is a way for Minnesota to document its services provided to individuals with disabilities and to guide ...

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Parking at the capitol? Good luck with that

When the 2014 Minnesota Legislature gavels into session February 23, Minnesota’s disability community will be there in force. But during a two-year period of capitol renovations and new construction, getting in and around may be an adventure. “If you find a parking place, camp out there for two years,” said Margot Imdieke Cross, accessibility specialty for ...

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Program changes debated

As the start date for the new Community First Services and Supports (CFSS) Program draws near, members of Minnesota’s disability community are unsure as to whether or not it will improve the quality of life for people with disabilities. Dozens of people weighed in on CFSS prior to the February 12 comment deadline. The program ...

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