Much of the 2018 legislative session’s long hours assembling budget supplemental bills was largely for naught, as the session’s end saw the speedy veto of one of the session’s biggest prizes: a supplemental budget package.
The veto means none of the hundreds of policy and spending provisions included in the near-1,000 page document will become law. With the veto of this bill, as well as a tax conformity bill sought by all parties, the 2018 session will be remembered as among the least productive in recent memory.
The Governor cited the bill’s omission of penalties on opioid manufacturers, anemic protections for those who live in assisted living and nursing facilities, and insufficient support for emergency aid for school districts, as key reasons for the veto.
Nonetheless, MNAAP was active on a number of bills this session. The chapter’s 2018 legislative priorities included strengthening Minnesota’s woefully weak vaccine requirement laws. We always knew that this would be a difficult session to strengthen the state’s weak vaccine requirement laws. Unexpectedly, the MNAAP was forced to defend against amendments related to immunization sought by the Legislature’s chief vaccine skeptic. I’m happy to share that while we weren’t able to fix our inadequate law, we were able to defeat efforts to roll vaccine requirements back even further.
In addition to vaccines, the chapter prioritized investments in pediatric mental health and health care disparities. A number of provisions related to these priorities, including a study of trauma-informed policy and practices, and additional support for school-linked mental health services, also fall by the wayside with the veto.
Advocates supporting a bill to reduce disparities in access to prenatal care, an MNAAP priority, was funded in an early version of the omnibus package, but wasn’t included in the final bill.
Other small provisions in the spending bill, including efforts to raise awareness about cytomegalovirus (CMV), as well as education efforts about Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcal Infections (PANDAS) and Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome (PANS), also will not become law given the Governor’s veto.
One silver lining to the veto was that a provision to allow physicians to forgo the latest AAP-supported updates in the “Child & Teen Check-up” periodicity schedule also did not become law.
The last weeks before session’s end also saw the MNAAP furiously working to prevent potentially dangerous changes to the laws that govern how newborns are to be put to sleep in licensed child care settings. Sought by child care providers in the name of “flexibility,” the changes could have led to confusing requirements to ensure a safe sleep environment for infants. After extensive work by the MNAAP, the negative changes were rejected.
The MNAAP also joined a coalition of more than 100 organizations opposing the imposition of a work requirement for those receiving Medical Assistance (MA) or MinnesotaCare. The work requirement did not pass the Legislature.
Come November, all 134 House seats will be on the ballot, as will the open Governor’s seat. Alongside two high-profile two U.S. Senate seats and all eight congressional seats before voters, Minnesota will see tremendous amount of politicking come the fall.
There’s few better times to press candidates about their support for child health than during a political campaign. As you see candidates at your door, the state fair, or at a local parade, don’t be shy in telling them that you’re watching closely how they intend to protect our state’s most vulnerable children.
The opportunity to have a significant impact on the health of Minnesota children during the 2019 legislative session begins in November by electing a child-health friendly Legislature.