Respectfully laying to rest those who died in state institutions

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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  • repeal an outdated children’s mental health service program for preschoolers because there are newer alternatives;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; and
  • clarify criteria used by mental health service providers.