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Legislative Updates & Alerts

During the legislative session, MNAAP members receive bi-weekly legislative updates emailed to them from the chapter’s policy chair and lobbyist.

The 2023 session runs from Jan. 3 through mid to late May. 

September 15, 2023

All MNAAP members are invited to join the chapter’s policy roundtable discussion on Thursday, Nov. 16, 6:30 – 8 p.m. via Zoom. The roundtable is the perfect opportunity to share your perspective on the issues that MNAAP should focus on at the Capitol during the upcoming legislative session. MNAAP is a leading voice on children’s health issues at the Capitol. We rely on the feedback of our members, as well as guidance from our chapter lobbyist, to determine the policy priorities of the chapter for each legislative session.

Please RSVP if you plan to attend. The meeting will take place via Zoom.

MNAAP’s policy co-chairs, Sue Berry, MD, FAAP, and Hannah Lichtsinn, MD, FAAP, will facilitate the virtual conversation focused on identifying policy priorities for the Board to consider based on member feedback, legislative viability and other considerations.

Can’t make the roundtable? We’re still interested in hearing from you about what advocacy topics are important to you. Simply reply to this email to share your thoughts or email Bethany Venable with details.

July 13, 2023

Chad Fahning, MNAAP Lobbyist

With the legislature now adjourned until February 2024, many commentators have labeled the 2023 legislative session as “historic.” In hindsight, few groups have a better claim to that word when describing the impact of the policies passed this year than Minnesota’s children and families.

The legislature was busy this session – the busiest many have seen in decades, if ever. DFLers came into the session with an enormous budget surplus, (narrow) control of the Senate, State House, and governor’s office, and a long checklist of progressive priorities. 

At the top of the list were reproductive health items like the Protect Reproductive Options (PRO) Act, Reproductive Freedom Defense Act, and repealing obstructions to abortion services. The legislature did not only pass those, but also banned the barbaric practice of so-called “conversion therapy” and authorized legal protection for those providing and seeking gender-affirming care in Minnesota.

Next on the checklist were significant investments into early childhood. Governor Tim Walz, when unveiling his budget proposals, said he wanted to make the Minnesota the “best state for kids and families.” The 2024-25 state budget reflected that intention and includes $1.2 billion of new funding for early childhood initiatives, $800 million for a comprehensive paid family and medica leave program, $200 million for free school meals, the creation of a new Department of Children, Youth, and Families, a child tax credit increase, and much more.

The legislature was also finally able to push through firearm safety measures. Specifically, these measures include expanded background checks for firearm sales and transfers and extreme risk protection orders, or “red flag” laws, so a family member or law enforcement can petition a court to temporarily remove firearms from someone who has been determined to be a harm to themselves or others.

There is still much work to be done. Pediatricians advocated for stricter firearm storage laws and for the removal of the current statute exempting children from public school immunization requirements based on “conscientiously held beliefs.” These items did not make it across the finish line this year, but that does not mean we should ignore all the great bills that became law this year. 

I do not have the space in this article to list everything that will help kids be safe, healthy, and happy. I want to extend my gratitude to those who engaged in advocacy efforts this session. Pediatricians were at the forefront of the public discussion and will need to continue that going forward. In the meantime, though, we should hold our collective heads high and celebrate this year’s legislative session and the impact it will have on Minnesota’s children and families. I can think of no better word to describe it than “historic.” 

May 30, 2023

The Minnesota Legislature wrapped up its business on May 22, closing out a very successful session for MNAAP.

“This was one of the most productive legislative sessions our chapter has ever seen,” said MNAAP President, Eileen Crespo, MD, FAAP. “We saw major legislative accomplishments on nearly every priority we had. I want to thank all members who engaged in some level of advocacy this year. We were at the forefront of these issues and contributed greatly to making this session truly historic.” 

MNAAP’s 2023 legislative priorities included protecting children and youth from firearm violence, increasing vaccination rates against infectious diseases, promoting child, youth, and family mental health, supporting funding for early childhood initiatives, and addressing social drivers of health.

Despite holding narrow majorities in both the House and Senate, DFL lawmakers set out with an aggressive legislative agenda. This included introducing multiple firearm safety proposals – something MNAAP had promoted for years. In the end, Minnesota passed expanded background check requirements for private firearm sales and transfers and a new extreme risk protection order (also known as a “red flag law”), allowing family members and law enforcement to petition a court to temporarily restrict firearm access for those at risk of harming themselves or others. 

Lawmakers also introduced legislation to require firearms to be safely secured in a safe or lockbox, and that ammunition be stored separately. This bill received a committee hearing in the House, but saw opposition in the Senate and was not included in the final bill.

Similarly, lawmakers introduced legislation to remove current statutes exempting children from public school immunization requirements based on “conscientiously held beliefs.” Though this legislation was introduced, it did not receive a committee hearing and did not pass. MNAAP will be coordinating with other stakeholders to pursue this in the future. Otherwise, MNAAP did push through funding for a vaccination program aimed at underinsured and uninsured Minnesotans.

In total, the biennial state budget will increase from approximately $52 billion to approximately $72 billion. About $12 billion of this is one-time spending. The new budget is funded through tax and fee alterations and use of the state’s $17.6 billion budget surplus. A large percentage of the spending increase is dedicated to children, families, and K-12 education.

Minnesota will allocate $23.2 billion of its 2024-25 state budget towards K-12 schools – $2.2 billion of that is new spending. Much of that is for a basic formula increase for schools, but one of the largest single spending items is a separate $85 million for mental health personnel in schools. Additionally, over $200 million was allocated for free school breakfast and lunches for all Minnesota students. That legislation moved separately from the K-12 education budget bill and was signed into law in March.

The health and human services (HHS) budget bill also included numerous grants for child mental health, as well as school-linked behavioral health grants. Additional items in the HHS bill include early child investments such as funding for childcare stabilization grants, Healthy Beginnings, Healthy Families Program, Homeless Youth Act, early learning scholarships, and the Great Start Act, to name a few. The bill also creates a new Department of Children, Youth and Families. In total, about $1.2 billion of investment into children and families. In comparison, the entire health budget target does not exceed $800 million.

The HHS bill also funds an actuarial and economic analysis for a MinnesotaCare Buy-in Program, or “public option,” expands MA coverage for undocumented Minnesotans and children, and offers continuous Medicaid enrollment for children.

Many of these new state budget investments are aimed to reducing the effects of social drivers of health. For example, MNAAP supported the $1 billion Housing bill – the largest single investment in housing the state has ever seen, which will go towards reducing housing insecurity and homelessness.

MNAAP also supported a comprehensive paid family and medical leave program, which was signed into law on May 25. The bill will require employers to offer 12 weeks of paid family leave and 12 weeks of paid medical leave starting on Jan. 1, 2026. The $800 million bill is funded through a payroll tax hike.

Other top items for MNAAP this session include a new child tax credit, the Protect Reproductive Options (PRO) Act, the Reproductive Freedom Defense Act, repeal of statutes intended to obstruct access to abortion services, legal protection for those coming to Minnesota seeking gender-affirming care, and a conversion therapy ban; all of which passed this session.

The legislature remains adjourned and will reconvene on Feb. 12, 2024. 

May 10, 2023

The following is a legislative update sent to MNAAP members on Monday, May 1, 2023. This is an abbreviated version of the message members receive from the chapter’s lobbyist. If you are a MNAAP member and you are not receiving a legislative update, contact Communications Manager Bethany Venable via email.

Conversion Therapy Ban, Gender Affirming Care, and RFDA Signed into Law

Three bills were signed into law by Gov. Tim Walz on April 27. The first, HF 16 (Hollins, DFL – St. Paul; Dibble, DFL – Minneapolis), would prohibit the use of conversion therapy for individuals under the age of 18. The second bill, HF 146 (Finke, DFL – St. Paul; Maye Quade, DFL – Apple Valley), seeks to protect transgender people, their families, and providers from legal repercussions if they travel to Minnesota to get gender-affirming care. Lastly, HF 366 (Agbaje, DFL – Minneapolis; Morrison, DFL – Deephaven), also known as the Reproductive Freedom Defense Act (RFDA), would also prevent state courts or officials from complying with extraditions, arrests, or subpoenas related to care received in Minnesota.
All three laws are effective immediately.

House and Senate Pass Health Omnibus Bill, Conference Committee Soon 

On April 26, the Minnesota House passed the omnibus health and human services budget bill on a 69-58 vote. A week prior, the Senate passed its version on a 35-32 vote margin. Though some details are different, both bills include the creation of a Health Care Affordability Commission to establish and enforce healthcare spending limits. In addition, both bills include efforts to expand access to affordable health coverage. The language would expand coverage for MinnesotaCare, provide coverage for non-documented children, and offer subsidies to encourage Minnesotans to purchase coverage with lower deductibles. It also includes efforts to further expand MinnesotaCare to more Minnesotans through what is referred to as the “public option,” beginning in 2027.  Both bills include language to repeal current statutes intended to obstruct access to reproductive healthcare services, grant funding to address healthcare worker safety, and updates to the all-payer claims database (APCD). Both bills also include a two-year extension for coverage of audio-only telehealth, medical assistance (MA) coverage for recuperative care services, and an initiative to direct the Commissioner of Health to develop a statewide database for POLST (Provider Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment) forms.  

Since the language in the House and Senate bills are different, a conference committee has been formed to hash out the differences and develop identical language in a conference report that will then be acted on by both bodies. The conference committee members include Reps. Liebling (DFL – Rochester), Bierman (DFL – Apple Valley), Pinto (DFL – St. Paul), Keeler (DFL – Moorhead), Schomacker (R – Luverne) and Sens. Wiklund (DFL – Bloomington), Morrison (DFL – Deephaven), Bolden (DFL – Rochester), Kupec DFL – Moorhead), and Abeler (R – Anoka).

Adult-Use Cannabis Passes Clears Minnesota House and Senate, Moves to Conference Committee

A bill legalizing adult-use cannabis passed the House floor on April 25 on a 71-59 vote, and the Senate version (SF 73 (Port, DFL – Burnsville) passed on Friday, April 28, with a vote of 34-33.

HF 100 (Stephenson, DFL – Coon Rapids) would legalize and regulate the recreational use of cannabis for those 21 and older in Minnesota. The bill would also create an expungement process to automatically lift previous cannabis-related, low-level convictions off individuals’ criminal records.  

The two bills will go to a conference committee to reconcile differences and then go to Gov. Tim Walz, who has previously indicated he will sign the bill.

Opioid Measure Included in Human Services Omnibus Bill 

The House and Senate passed different versions of the omnibus human services budget bill that funds nursing homes, programs for disabled Minnesotans, and other social service programs. The different versions of the human services omnibus bills will be reconciled in a conference committee in the upcoming weeks.

February 10, 2023

As an MNAAP member, you play a critical role in advocating for the health and safety of your patients. As you may know, firearms are the leading cause of death for children in the United States. The issue of firearm death and injury is a public health crisis for Minnesota’s youth and demands immediate action. We need your help to urge Minnesota lawmakers to support common-sense firearm safety legislation to reduce the devastating toll of gun violence on kids.

Please take a moment to reach out to your legislators and express your support for common-sense measures, such as safe storage laws, universalbackground checks, and extreme risk protection orders. The following bills are currently under consideration:

  • HF14/SF1116: Implementing universal background checks for firearm transfers. 
  • HF15/SF1117: Law enforcement and family members enabled to petition a court to prohibit people from possessing firearms if they pose a significant danger to themselves or others. 
  • HF396/SF916: Requiring safe storage of firearms and ammunition. 
  • HF601/SF606: Lost and stolen firearms required to be reported promptly to law enforcement.

Your voice is critical in the fight for common-sense firearm legislation. By speaking out, you can help make a difference in the lives of countless children affected by gun violence.Please contact your legislators today and ask them to support evidence-based firearm control measures.

Together, we can make our communities safer and save lives.

Click here to find your state senator and representative and then call or email. 

You can use this sample script:

My name is [name] and I live at [address]. I am calling/emailing to express my support for common sense firearm safety legislation. [Add your personal story or a few talking points here about why firearm violence prevention is important]. Accidental firearm injury and homicide continues to be a major health concern for Minnesota’s youth. Firearms are also the leading method of suicide for adolescents aged 15 to 19. I hope Senator/Representative [X] will work with their colleagues to pass legislation that can help protect Minnesota’s children and teens from firearm violence. Thank you.

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