We're so proud! In a time of budget crisis, our legislature is setting aside partisan politics and protecting some of Minnesota's most vulnerable. The Safe Harbor bill that we've been following is moving forward. It corrects problems in criminal law so that sexually exploited children are directed to support services rather than charged with crimes.
The Star Tribune wrote a great, short article about the problem that this bill addresses:
"Advocates of the Safe Harbor law say it is needed to eliminate what amounts to a Catch-22 in state law: Juvenile prostitutes can be simultaneously considered as juvenile delinquents to be criminally prosecuted or a child in need of protective services."
A number of resources are available directly from the legislative staff so that you can keep up with the MN budget debates. Here's a message from the Health & Human Services Committee staff:
"All Conference Committee Documents are now posted to the House HHS Finance Committee webpage. The items posted on the committee webpage are: spreadsheet, language side-by-side and House Research/Senate Council summary side-by-side. Any amendments offered during the course of conference committee will also be posted. Copies of the side-by-sides are on a table outside of Rep. Abeler and Rep. Gottwalt offices. Please come and help yourself to the materials. Thank you."
Hearings that took place during the week:
HF1191: Social worker licensure provisions modified. There was a House hearing in Health and Human Services Reform on 4/13, but we're not sure of the outcome of the hearing - update not yet posted online.
SF 540: Child maltreatment mandatory reporting requirement for school district employees; teacher license revocation provision. There was a Senate hearing in Education on 04/12, but we're not sure of the outcome of the hearings - update not yet posted online.
HF322: Joint physical custody presumption established, Children's Equal and Shared Parenting Act created, and parenting plans required. The Civil Law Committee, on 4/11, passed as amended and sent it on to Judiciary Policy and Finance.
HF447: Increased protections for vulnerable adults. Passed out of committees on 4/11 & 4/14.
HF 563 is a bill authored by CASCW Advisory Board member Rep. Jeff Hayden. It calls for the creation of full-service school zones. House Hearing Scheduled in Education Reform on 4/12/2011 and in Education Reform on 4/14/2011. Not sure of the outcome of the hearings - updates are not yet posted online.
The Federal budget debate's impact on Health and Human Services, covered by MN Budget Project:
Deep cuts for education, housing, labor and health and human services in federal budget deal
Check back next week for more details on the Northstar Care for Children bill - DHS' proposals for Child Welfare reform this session.