House committee amends workers’ comp bill

Injured workers receiving workers’ compensation have had unlimited job development and placement services to help them return to work after being rehabilitated and cleared for employment. A bill amended by a House committee proposes to put a six-month limit on worker access to covered services.

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Respectfully laying to rest those who died in state institutions

When people who lived in state institutions died, they were buried on the grounds and their graves marked with a number.A nonprofit group wants to replace the numerical grave markers with the deceased’s name, birth date and date of death. The Department of Human Services would be authorized to share that information under a bill passed by the House.Remembering with Dignity is a coalition of disability rights organizations that is working to replace about 5,000 remaining markers with more respectful ones that honor each individual who lived and died at state institutions.Sponsored by Rep. Zachary Dorholt (DFL-St. Cloud) and passed Friday by the House 125-0, HF969, as amended, also would repeal “insensitive language” in law and replace it with updated terminology. For example, the word “retarded” is still in statute 17 times, Dorholt said.The bill moves to the Senate, where Sen. Chris Eaton (DFL-Brooklyn Center) is the sponsor.The bill would also:repeal an outdated children’s mental health service program for preschoolers because there are newer alternatives;expand from six months to one year the period of assessment for children’s therapeutic services and supports eligibility;allow such an assessment to be completed by a mental health practitioner who is a clinical trainee; andclarify criteria used by mental health service providers. Continue Reading

Department of Human Services policy bill clears House, moves to Senate

The Department of Human Services would establish a new council to advise the commissioner on how to reduce racial and ethnic disparities for accessing services, according to a bill passed by the House 111-14 on Friday.HF975, sponsored by Rep. John Benson (DFL-Minnetonka), would establish the Cultural and Ethnic Communities Leadership Council. The council would be charged with reviewing department policies for racial, ethnic, cultural, linguistic and tribal disparities. An annual report would be due beginning Nov. 15, 2014 regarding equitable delivery of services.In addition to forming the council, the bill would:codify in law the department’s practices regarding fair hearings;require full-time human services judges to be licensed Minnesota attorneys; andmake technical changes, such as removing obsolete laws.The bill now moves to the Senate, where Sen. Melisa Franzen (DFL-Edina) is the sponsor. Continue Reading

Proposed bans on BPA, formaldehyde raise case for federal action

Minnesota would add two more chemicals to a list of items kept out of children’s personal care products and food containers.Bills passed by the House on Friday would ban Bisphenol-A and formaldehyde in children’s products and the debate raised demand from some legislators to approach chemical bans uniformly at the federal level.Bisphenol-A, more commonly known as BPA, is already banned in baby bottles and “sippy cups,” but it can still be used by manufacturers to line cans and lids to protect foods from spoiling. The House passed HF459 on a vote of 115-11 on Friday which would add to the list of BPA-banned containers.The bill defines a container as a box, can, jar, lid or other receptacle that has direct contact with children’s food.Sponsored by Rep. Joe Atkins (DFL-Inver Grove Heights), the bill moves to the Senate where Sen. Katie Sieben (DFL-Newport) is the sponsor.Rep. Jenifer Loon (R-Eden Prairie) said she would support the bill but “when we get into sort of state by state regulation by chemical, it’s very difficult for businesses that operate across multiple states in our nation to grapple with compliance.”Atkin’s bill was heard on the heels of another bill passed by the House to ban formaldehyde in children’s personal care products.Rep. John Persell (DFL-Bemidji) sponsors HF458, which would ban manufacturers from intentionally adding formaldehyde to personal care products for children younger than 8 years old. Products targeted include baby shampoos, bubble bath and other lotions or gels applied to children. Pharmaceutical products and toys are not included in the proposed ban.Passed by the House 113-13 on Friday, the Persell bill now moves to the Senate, where Sen. Ann Rest (DFL-New Hope) is the sponsor.“Wouldn’t it be better to handle this at a federal level so that all states have the same requirements?” asked Rep. Joyce Peppin (R-Rogers).“Yeah it would be nice if we could do a lot of things at the federal level, I would argue. Minnesota is a little more progressive at looking at protecting children’s health, ” Persell said in response.The ban on selling children’s personal care products containing formaldehyde would begin Aug. Continue Reading