Why we advocate, part III: Our 2016 objectives at the state Capitol

Find out what our goals are for the 2016 session of Minnesota’s state legislature.

In 2015 our advocacy efforts helped us engage 110 elected officials and members of the administration in direct conversations regarding Goodwill-Easter Seals Minnesota and our public policy priorities. Those efforts were led by Deanna Smiley Gulliford, our Director of Public Affairs.

On a chilly day in late January we took Deanna to the state Capitol (which is still under construction) to discuss what our top 2016 advocacy objectives are for the upcoming session of the Minnesota state legislature. Watch her explain in the video, and get details below.

As we dive into the 2016 session of the Minnesota state legislature, which starts on March 8, it is likely to be very short and sweet – running less than three months this year.

Goodwill-Easter Seals will be focusing on the following priorities:

Our overarching strategic goals remain unchanged:

#1 – Helping move individuals and families out of poverty and to economic self-reliance

#2 – Increasing racial equity, especially as it relates to employment in Minnesota

#3 – Increasing access to services and independence for individuals with disabilities

Specific top priorities for this year include:

  • Expand career pathways and workforce on-ramp options for low-income adults.
    Investing in training and education opportunities that put people to work in key sectors should be a top priority for the state. Focusing on career pathways helps adults succeed in well-paying careers by integrating basic skills education and career-specific training.
  • Secure FATHER Project funding to expand fatherhood services.
    Dads that contribute both economically and emotionally to their children’s lives have a stabilizing impact on families. These services are needed statewide.

Other priorities:

  • Expand employment services and opportunities for individuals with mental illness across the state through Individual Placement and Support (IPS) Supported Employment. One of the best steps in recovery from a mental illness is a job.
  • Increase Medical Assistance (MA) income standard for people with disabilities. Medical Assistance provides adults with disabilities and seniors access to MA services and supports that are necessary for living in the community. Current law holds people with disabilities to income and assets standards that force some to “spend-down” limited resources to keep the services they need for independence. The goal is to raise the MA income and asset standards to reduce the “spend-down,” improving the quality of life for Minnesotans with disabilities.
  • Reduce the severity of drug-sentencing laws. As compared to the other states, Minnesota has the 8th highest rate of people under correctional control. A major contributing factor is our state’s uncommonly long drug sentencing policies. The Second Chance Coalition will work to reduce the length and severity of sentences for non-violent drug offenses and eliminate mandatory minimum drug sentences.

Read the rest of our 3-part series on Why we advocate:

Part I: Goodwill-Easter Seals’ efforts at the state Capitol.

Part II: How we Involve our participants in the advocacy process.

Learn more/get involved:

Sign up for our 2016 Second chance Day on the Hill on March 15

Read about a grant from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) that will help us provide job training for Minnesotans with mental illnesses.

Read more stories about Goodwill-Easter Seals Advocacy efforts

Follow Goodwill-Easter Seals Public Policy news and events