SF 738 modifies the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Services Act.
Section 1 (Culturally affirmative – 256C.23, subdivision 1a) defines “culturally affirmative.”
Section 2 (Deaf – 256C.23, subdivision 2) modifies the definition of “deaf” by including additional examples of visual and manual means of communication.
Section 3 (Interpretive services – 256C, subdivision 2c) defines “interpretive services.”
Section 4 (Real-time captioning – 256C.23, subdivision 6) defines “real-time captioning.”
Sections 5 (Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Services Division – 256C.233, subdivision 1) specifies that the commissioners of education, employment and economic development, and health shall advise the commissioner of human services on the activities of the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Division; removes from the jurisdiction of the Division the educational and occupational needs of individuals.
Sections 5 and 6 (Responsibilities – 256C.233, subdivision 2) modifies the duties of the Division by supplementing mere promulgation of information with advocacy, training, service provision, including the provision of mental health services, research, and reporting to the legislature on the activities of the Division.
Section 7 (Location – 256C.24, subdivision 1) incorporates people first language and requires the Division to establish at least six regional service centers.
Section 8 (Responsibilities – 256C.24, subdivision 2) modifies the duties of the regional service centers.
Section 9 (Transportation costs reimbursement - 256C.24, subdivision 4) permits individuals traveling more than 50 miles round-trip to receive services at a regional service center to be reimbursed at the reimbursement rate established by the Internal Revenue Service.
Section 10 (Services for Persons who are Deafblind – 256C.261) clarifies the minimum allocation of grant funding for services and supports for children and for adults, and prohibits regional service centers from providing services under the consumer-directed grant program.
Section 11 (Direction to the Commissioner) requires the commissioner and the Commission of Deaf, Deafblind and Hard-of-Hearing Minnesotans to make recommendations to the legislature concerning the modernization of the telecommunication equipment program.
Section 12 (Direction to the Commissioner) requires the commissioner to report to the legislature on the costs and benefits of the Division providing mental health services.
Section 13 (Appropriation) appropriates $600,000 per year ongoing for the Division, of which $150,000 per year ongoing must be used for technology, training, and service provision via technology; and $1,000,000 per year ongoing for deaf and hard-of-hearing grants, of which $103,000 per year ongoing must be used for grants to provide mentors to parents of children with newly identified hearing loss.
Section 14 (Repealer) repeals the definition of "regional service center," the duty of state agencies with respect to the Division, and language concerning interpreter services, which is incorporated elsewhere in the bill.