December 3rd is International Day of Persons with Disabilities!
The day seeks to promote awareness and rights of persons with disabilities and to celebrate their diverse lives and perspectives. This International Day of Persons with Disabilities, we’re looking at how Minnesota supports our neighbors with disabilities.
Minnesota Council on Disability
The Minnesota Council on Disability is a state council that works to improve the lives of people with disabilities across the state. They work to advance legislation that protects and promotes equity for persons with disabilities and work closely with lawmakers each legislative session.
The council also provides technical assistance and training for businesses and organizations on being inclusive. They partner with other state agencies to help Minnesotans with disabilities with housing, transportation, and voting.
We are very lucky to have the council in Minnesota looking out for and advancing rights and access for Minnesotans with disabilities.
Steps Toward Eliminating Subminimum Wage
One of the most pressing issues for the community of people with disabilities is subminimum wage. Under current federal law, employers are allowed to pay workers with disabilities a wage below the federal minimum wage, creating massive economic inequality for these workers. Several states have already banned subminimum wage, but unfortunately, it is still a legal practice in Minnesota.
However, progressives in the state legislature and the Minnesota Council on Disability took significant steps this year to make progress in phasing subminimum wage out of the state.
During the 2023 legislative session, progressive leaders in the legislature also took steps to address disabilities related to psychological conditions with an emphasis on post-traumatic stress disorder. The new budget provides $1 million for treating PTSD and expands eligibility for state disability benefits.
The new law also now requires up to 32 weeks of mental health treatment for first responders with psychological conditions such as PTSD.
Other Wins During the 2023 Legislative Session
Other notable wins for persons with disabilities earlier this year included improvements in medical care and access to affordable housing.
A bill from the Housing Committees in the House and the Senate updated requirements for Minnesota to increase affordable and accessible housing options. The new law requires that at least one unit, or 5% of units in the building, be fully accessible in state-supported housing. This will ensure Minnesota provides affordable and accessible housing options for Minnesotans with physical disabilities.
Progressives in the legislature also took steps to end additional fees for Minnesotans accessing medical assistance for their disability. The change will expand access to assisted medical care by sparing families the burden of paying extra fees to access these services.
Thanks to our progressive leaders in the legislature, Minnesota took important steps to improve rights for people with disabilities this year. With our next legislative session just a few months away, it’s more important than ever to keep fighting to make Minnesota a more equitable place to live.
Sign up today to join the fight!