A closer look at each of our 2022 legislative priorities
Invest in Affordable and Accessible Housing
Increasing housing costs has greatly impacted all Minnesotans. Many Minnesotans are significantly burdened by the rising cost of rent – often paying more than 30%-50% of their income in rent. Rising rents can lead to increased levels of housing instability and homelessness as renters are unable to make monthly payments and meet other essential living expenses. As a result, homelessness rates in Minnesota have been rising for the past three years and renters are unable to become homeowners, build wealth, or stabilize their living situation in safe and accessible neighborhoods. These issues disproportionately affect Black, Indigenous and People of Color and those from LGBTQ+ communities due to discriminatory housing practices, higher rates of eviction, and lack of generational wealth.
MSSA also supports legislation that increases housing access and affordability for all, including older Minnesotans. Older adults face unique challenges and needs including the need for homes that are age friendly and supports to improve habitability. Increasing property taxes pose an additional barrier in home affordability for older adults.
Increasing the level of affordable and accessible housing will ensure all Minnesotans are able to thrive in safe and affordable homes.
Goal: Ensure affordable and accessible housing across the housing continuum, including those who are homeless, renters, and homebuyers.
Eliminate Racial Disparities in Child Foster Care and Adoption
Racial disparities in child foster care and adoption are widespread and persistent across Minnesota. Black and Indigenous children are overrepresented in Minnesota’s foster care system. Compared to their white counterparts, American Indian/Native American children are 17x more likely to experience out of home placement, children of two or more races are 5x more likely, and African American or Black children are 3x more likely.
Additionally, children of color are more often placed with white foster care providers than with providers of their own racial background who may be better equipped and attuned to their cultural needs, and stringent foster care provider requirements prevent kin from being eligible placements for children. Minnesota’s foster care provider requirements are much stricter than requirements for adoptive families, so children who are ultimately adopted by family members often spend years living in foster care with strangers.
Goal: Pass legislation which seeks to end racial disparities in child foster care and adoption in Minnesota.
Develop an Interoperable Statewide Telepresence Network
This widespread use of telepresence, especially during the pandemic, has demonstrated the effectiveness, promise, and potential to provide timely, safe, equitable and less-expensive care. Long-term investment in a coordinated and effective system is needed to increase access to care for clients and patients who need it most.
Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, many Minnesotans relied on telepresence systems to receive care. Currently, there are several disparate telepresence systems in Minnesota used to deliver care. Providers using these systems include Tribal Nations, counties, law enforcement, courts, schools, mental health providers, and other human service agencies.
A unified, single, interoperable telepresence system is needed in Minnesota to ensure providers can communicate and share information across agencies. This system must have enough capacity to withstand a rapidly increasing number of users. This unified, single, interoperable system will ensure access to those who need virtual care and will increase access to care. A statewide taskforce of experts would be able to ensure the development of a public-private telepresence system that works better for all Minnesotans.
Goal: Establish a statewide telepresence taskforce to determine a single, interoperable telepresence system.
Ban Conversion Therapy Practices on LGBTQ+ Youth Statewide
"Conversion therapy,” often referred to as “reparative therapy,” “ex-gay therapy,” or “sexual orientation change efforts,” refers to any collection of methods or tactics aimed at attempting to change someone's sexual orientation or gender identity. Conversion therapy is based on the false premise that being a part of the LGBTQ+ community is a mental illness, thus requiring a cure or treatment.
Many LGBTQ+ Minnesotans are still subjected to conversion therapy which places them at risk of depression, substance abuse, and suicide.
Goal: Ban conversion therapy in Minnesota state law.