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House human services panel begins review of omnibus HHS bill

Much of what was in the governor’s human services budget request might be moving forward.

Sponsored by Rep. Jennifer Schultz (DFL-Duluth), HF2127, to be amended with a 497-page delete-all amendment, was reviewed Tuesday by the House Human Services Finance and Policy Committee.

Public testimony is scheduled Wednesday, amendments are to be addressed beginning Thursday with a vote on Friday.

Assuming the package gets committee approval, the plan is for the House Ways and Means Committee to merge it with the health and early childhood omnibus bills.

The total package for three areas calls for $346.51 million in net spending above base in the 2022-23 biennium; $191.6 million in human services.

[MORE: View the combined spreadsheet for health and human services bills]

The Senate human services finance and policy bill is SF383. Sponsored by Sen. Jim Abeler (R-Anoka), it awaits action by the Senate Human Services Reform Finance and Policy Committee.

“There were a lot of great bills we heard. Unfortunately, with limited resources we couldn’t include all of the bills we heard in our omnibus,” said Schultz, who chairs the human services committee.

Human Services Commissioner Jodi Harpstead spoke highly of including many gubernatorial wants, but said work remains. “We’ll have more feedback as we continue to work together on a budget that meets the needs of Minnesotans and as the process moves into conference committee.”

“A priority for me was increasing the rates and wages for our (personal care attendant) workers across the state,” Schultz said of the $68.3 million in the bill.

Schultz also highlighted $13.61 million for a cost-of-living increase for Minnesota Family Investment Program recipients, a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program income limit increase from 165% of the federal poverty guidelines to 200%, and ideas to address homelessness, behavioral health and substance abuse.

Other funding in the bill includes:  

  • $49.8 million in direct care and treatment operating adjustments;
  • $28.87 million “to satisfy the value of overpayments owed by the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and White Earth Band of Chippewa to repay overpayments for medication-assisted treatment services between fiscal year 2014 and fiscal year 2019”;
  • $25 million for a homelessness package that includes emergency shelter, emergency services grants and long-term homelessness support services;
  • $8.33 million to reimburse counties “for the statewide county share of costs for which federal funds were claimed, but were not eligible for federal funding for substance use disorder services provided in institutions for mental disease for claims paid between January 1, 2014, and June 30, 2019”;
  • $3.09 million to increase the capacity of the Metro Demonstration Program from 226 to 500 households and allow households in Carver, Scott and Washington counties to participate;
  • $2.56 million for a 5% rate increase for culturally specific or culturally responsive and disability responsive substance use disorder treatment providers;
  • $2 million for Indian Child Welfare Act training;
  • $1.44 million to address the error rate in the SNAP program;
  • $1.33 million to implement the Families First Prevention Services Act;
  • $1.07 million for grants to recovery community organizations;
  • $349,000 for temporary compensation for personal care assistance services provided by a parent or spouse; and
  • $54,000 to provide compensation to the Cultural and Ethnic Communities Leadership Council.

Children protection

Passed as a standalone bill by the House March 22, but not yet acted upon by the Senate, is a provision to require  “an owner, administrator, or employee who is 18 years of age or older of a public or private youth recreation program or other organization that provides services or activities requiring face-to-face contact with and supervision of children” to report known or suspected maltreatment within the preceding three years.”

Other proposed child-related changes include:

  • prenatal care providers would be exempt from the mandatory reporting of women who use a controlled substance during pregnancy;
  • a maltreated child’s parent, legal custodian or guardian would be required to be informed of, and could participate in, a contested case hearing in which a licensee or proposed licensee may appeal a licensing sanction or denial of a license;
  • all child protection workers would need to complete training on sex trafficking and sexual exploitation of children and youth; and
  • sex trafficking would be added to various child protection statutes and maltreatment reporting and a non-caregiver sex trafficking assessment would be added to the possible agency responses to a report of child maltreatment.

Other policy proposals

The bill looks at changes to behavioral health, direct care and treatment, disability services and continuing care and community supports, including:

  • making changes related to compliance with the federal Family First Prevention Services Act in sections governing child placement in qualified residential treatment programs;
  • streamlining definitions and standards for providing a range of mental health services;
  • modifying provisions related to crisis response services for adults and children;
  • allowing for child psychiatric residential treatment direct referrals;
  • allowing county agencies to obtain information by phone or written communication to complete MFIP household report forms, rather than returning an incomplete form;
  • the Human Services Department would need to study oversight of, and propose recommendations for increasing access to, sober housing programs;
  • requiring the department to establish a substance use disorder community of practice; and
  • making several clarifying and policy changes to the Cultural and Ethnic Communities Leadership Council.

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What's in the bill?

The following are selected bills that have been incorporated in part or in whole into the omnibus human services finance bill:


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