The Minnesota Legislature continues its work sifting through thousands of bills to consider for passage. We are currently tracking nearly 40 bills that are relevant to the child welfare field.
The Minnesota Management and Budget office’s budget forecast has increased from December’s projection to $1.65 billion. This means that the governor and the legislature have additional funds to consider for spending and tax levels. Given that we have a DFL governor and a Republican-controlled House and Senate, we are likely to see differences in opinion on how to manage those additional funds.
The first deadline for bills to be considered in the house of origin is March 10th, and several bills that we are following have been given a committee hearing.
A few bills that we are following would increase services available to families and children, including one that requires counties to notify any child over the age 10 that is the subject of a Child In need of Protection or Services (CHIPS) petition their eligibility for legal representation. Additionally, only the child can waive their right to legal representation.
Another bill would lower the length of time a parent whose parental rights had been previously terminated must wait to request a reinstatement of their parental rights to 18 months. Previously, the wait time for a reinstatement request was 36 months. This bill would also lower the minimum age requirement of the child from 15 years of age or older to 10 years of age.
A bill was proposed to provide up to 40 hours of Personal Care Attendant (PCA) support
for parents with disabilities, to help with everyday parenting tasks. This pilot project would also provide funds for adaptive parenting equipment and create a Parenting with a Disability Advisory Committee.
Child Care Aware tracks bills related to child care assistance and quality child care throughout session, and they are updating their bill tracker weekly. Some of these bills are of interest to child welfare professionals, including one that would expand child care assistance to foster parents who provide child care.
The House has appointed new members to the Legislative Task Force on Child Protection, with Representative Kresha maintaining his position as co-chair, but the Senate has not yet made its appointments. There have been no meetings this year and future meetings have yet to be scheduled this year. We will continue to watch for updates from this group as they develop.