Yesterday, the mainstream media reported Governor Walz banned conversion therapy because the legislature refused to act. This headline is false on many levels. Rep. Hollins (D) introduced the so-called “Conversion Therapy ban,” HF2156 which would ban licensed mental health practitioners from assisting children or vulnerable adults in changing their behaviors to identify as the gender of their birth. The bill allows the same licensed mental health practitioners to change the gender identity or sexual orientation of children and vulnerable adults.
The “Conversion Therapy Ban” only applied to those assisting children who wish to change in one direction. The bill also prohibits misleading advertising claims of conversion therapy. The bill does not restrict conversion therapy for individuals 18 years and older.
The proposed legislation also would ban Medicaid from covering Conversion Therapy.
After researching this bill, I found no licensed mental health practitioners advertising conversion therapy in Minnesota. There is no CPT Code or ‘billing code’ for conversion therapy, and no insurance providers cover such treatment. This legislation would make no changes.
Why do we need legislation banning something that does not exist? Why not also ban the slaughter of wild Minnesota Dolphins? It sure sounds like it would be an excellent issue to campaign on. Government is great at solving problems without solving problems.
Some Minnesotans do not support homosexuality or gender fluidity and seek spiritual guidance if they or their family members are confused about their gender or sexual orientation. The government has no authority to dictate the speech of an imam, rabbi, priest, or pastor in Minnesota mosques, synagogues, or churches. While these individuals and institutions are exempted from the proposed legislation, they are the bill’s target, which seeks to make it illegal in the media to shame those seeking spiritual guidance.
A private counseling session between a doctor and patient is private. If covered by a health insurance plan, a session is billed as a counseling session. The government should not be able to dictate what can and cannot be discussed.
During the House floor debate on HF2156, Rep. Tim Miller offered a balanced amendment to ban doctors from chemically or physically transitioning children to an alternate gender. This addresses an issue more significant than counseling children but did not pass the House.
This week, Governor Walz’s executive order prohibits Medicaid from covering a therapy that does not exist in the billing system and for which Medicaid already does not cover. His order requests that HMOs and other health insurance companies do the same. He also ordered the MN Department of Health to study the public health impacts of conversion therapy. Governor Walz cannot unilaterally prohibit medical practitioners from performing conversion therapy, and he did not issue this ban.
In the end, nothing happened. The government has not solved a problem.
Federal Child Tax Reimbursement
On July 15, 2021, the Federal Government will begin taking money from parents, and families across the country and redistributing it to other parents in the form of monthly Child Tax Credit payments. This is due to the passage of the American Rescue plan from congress. For every child 6-17 years old, families making up to 12,500 per month will receive up to $250 of taxpayer funds each month, and for every child under 6 years old, the same families will receive up to $300 each month of taxpayer funds. All working families will receive the full credit if they make up to $150,000 for a couple or $112,500 for a family with a single parent. The expanded Child Tax Credit is currently only for 2021.
Highway 60 Madison Lake to Elysian construction progressing
Construction on this first phase began on April 15 and is expected to be complete by July 16. The detour consists of Highway 14 and Waseca County Road 3.
Starting July 16, construction will move to Phase 2 and will take place on Highway 60 from the City of Elysian to the junction with Highway 13 at Waterville. Traffic will be detoured to Highway 13 in Waterville, Le Sueur County Road 12 (Tetonka Lake Road), Le Sueur County Road 11 and Highway 60. Construction is expected to be complete in October.
In effort to take advantage of favorable weather to expedite completion of the project, a minor modification to the Phase 2 detour is planned to begin on Monday, July 12, weather permitting. Highway 60 east of the intersection with Waseca County Road 3 will be closed to through traffic to allow the contractor to begin work on this section. Traffic that would be directed west on Highway 60 at the intersection with Le Sueur County Road 11 will instead be detoured east on Highway 60 to the intersection of Waseca County Road 3 (East Elysian Lake Road), and then follow the Phase 1 detour toward Janesville. All way stops will also be implemented at the intersection of Le Sueur County Roads 11 and 12. A map of the short term detour modification is available online at: www.dot.state.mn.us/d7/projects/hwy60madisonlake/
Although we are out of session, the redistricting committee is finally scheduling meetings this month. Our focus will be to agree on a set of principles for redistricting, which the courts have historically considered if they are the final deciders on legislative district maps. If you have suggestions on how to improve our redistricting process, please reach out to my office.