My apologies for staying quiet the past couple of weeks as the transition Katie mentioned in the previous entry has taken place. I am hoping to get you caught up on what has been happening at the legislature in this entry, so it will be a little long.
Over the past couple of weeks, the political talk has been regarding the budget and whether Governor Dayton and the GOP will be able to come up with a solution before a government shutdown. This is a result of Governor Dayton's veto of the budget bills proposed by the GOP-led legislature. The problem is that the legislature wants to take a cuts-only approach to the budget, whereas the governor wants to incorporate increasing revenue through taxation in addition to cutting spending. Currently the governor is meeting with the legislature throughout June in order to attempt to come up with a budget solution. This is an interesting article from MPR that discusses how each side interprets how much spending Minnesota is doing.
Very few child welfare-related bills were signed into law; those that were do not directly impact child welfare, with the exception of the children's mental health screening. To recap, the bills which indirectly impact child welfare that were signed into law or vetoed are as follows (see Legislative Tracker for more details):
May 24, 2011
Signed: Chapter 51, HF 1018/SF 742: Amends Minnesota Statutes 2010, section 144.551, subdivision 1 (b) (24) to allow an expansion of PrairieCare specialty psychiatric hospital in Maple Grove (for patients under 21 years of age), from 20 beds to 50 beds, without requiring an additional public interest review by the Minnesota Department of Health (due to one already having occurred in 2008).
Signed: Chapter 72, HF 229/SF 76: Child certified as an adult provided to be detained in a juvenile facility pending the outcome of criminal proceedings, and judges authorized to prohibit juvenile sex offenders from residing near their victims.
May 27, 2011
Signed: Chapter 86, HF 1500/SF1285: This bill had many amendments and deletions in the language concerning mental health (primarily from Minnesota Statutes 2010, sections 245.462, 245.4874, and 256B.0947). Besides providing guidelines for how to bill Medical Assistance, set rates for reimbursement, and organize a treatment team, it also provided new definitions related to mental health treatment, situations when a parent can opt out of mental health screening for their children involved with child welfare or the juvenile courts, the use of peer specialists in a treatment team, the provision of medication education services to clients and families, and refining client eligibility for mental health services.
If you are interested in the actual language of the law, please see the bill text (underlined passages are the new additions, and strikethroughs are removed sections).
Vetoed: Chapter 94, HF 988/SF 952: Would have modified eligibility criteria for use of a public defender. Governor Dayton's concern was that the income limits were set too low and that it would not allow many low-income individuals their constitutional right to legal counsel; for example, for an offender being charged with a misdemeanor crime, s/he would need to be at or below 125 percent of the federal poverty guidelines, which means s/he would have to earn equal to or less than $13,612.
May 31, 2011
Vetoed: Chapter 114, House File 1381: The Omnibus Education Policy Bill. Governor Dayton had concerns about the elimination of early childhood education programming and funding, the language concerning home school reporting and parental accountability, the lack of clarity concerning a pilot project in which school districts could opt to operate as charter schools, the prohibition of the Commissioner of Education from adopting Common Core Standards, and the limitations on rulemaking related to academic standards, among others (see Governor Dayton's veto letter for more detailed information).
What do you think of these bills? In particular, what do you think of the governor's veto of the bills previously mentioned? Do you think these particular bills will have any major (or minor) impact on child welfare practices in Minnesota?