Legislative Updates

Report May '24

capitol exterior

When the clock struck midnight on May 20, the MN legislative session came to an end. We are thrilled to share with you that in the closing hours of the session, we successfully passed two of our major workforce priorities! These bills passed the House and the Senate and are headed to the Governor’s desk where we expect he will sign it into law.

  • PASSED! - Social Work Licensing Reform: Legislation expanded the provisional licensing option to anyone with a social work degree. This allows licensing candidates to choose between the traditional exam option or additional supervision in lieu of the exam. This applies to all licensing categories. Check out our licensing roadmap for a visual of this legislation. 
  • PASSED! - Social Work Interstate Compact: Legislation allows Minnesota to join the Social Work Interstate Licensure Compact. This is a brand new compact that needed at least 7 states to join before it could get started - social workers around the country worked hard and have quickly met that threshold. Next, the Compact Commission will begin the work of establishing rules, processes, and fees. We expect this process to take one or two years. NASW-MN and the MN Board of Social Work will keep MN social workers in the loop as access to a Compact license gets closer! You can learn more here

We also prioritized a host of other legislation this year, some related to our workforce and some related to larger social justice issues. We want to share all of this with you on June 5, 12:00-1:00pm, at our Legislative Recap. It’s on-line and it’s FREE. Bring your curiosity and passion - policy changes lives!  (https://naswmn.socialworkers.org/Events/Events-Calendar/NASW-MN-Calendar/ArtMID/38670/ArticleID/4032/2024-Minnesota-Legislative-Recap-Session)

Over the coming days you can also visit NASW-MN’s Advocacy page on session information here. As we dig into the bill language on various provisions, we will share updates on the status and specific bill language. 

We don’t do this work alone and it’s important to thank our partners. In particular, getting this over the finish line would not have happened without Representative Jessica Hanson. We also had important help from Senators Zaynab Mohamed and Melissa Wiklund, and Representatives Tina Liebling, Danny Nadeau, Heather Edelson, and Robert Bierman. We were also fortunate to collaborate with the Board of Social Work and other professional organizations with shared goals including the Licensed Clinical Counselors, Speech Pathologists, and Physical Therapists. Finally, it is the advocacy of social workers that matters, including those partners in the Minnesota Coalition of Licensed Social Workers. Building relationships is the starting point of our work.

Previous Reports

March 22nd marked a major deadline in the Legislative session. Policy bills that have not been heard and do not have a financial cost attached can no longer move forward. There are always exceptions, but the path is narrower for many proposals. April 19th will be the final deadline for all bills. At that point, the Legislature will use the final month of the session to negotiate differences in conference committees and pass final language on the floor before adjourning on May 20. 

We are thrilled to report that language to expand the provisional licensing pathway that allows supervision instead of exam is included in both the House and Senate omnibus licensing bill (HF4247/SF4570). Reforming licensing is a top workforce priority on the NASW-MN legislative agenda, and we are poised to push this through the finish line this session. 

The social work interstate licensure compact was heard in the Senate HHS committee. The Judiciary committee needs to sign off on language related to litigation before the Senate HHS committee can include it in their licensing omnibus bill. Because the House Health committee never heard the bill, it cannot include it in their omnibus bill. The short timeframe of the session is making logistics for passage difficult, but we continue to explore options.

Visit the NASW-MN action center to join us in advocating. 

Check this page for the status of these and other priorities. 

Sample emails are ready to go - just click, add a personal touch, and send.

Meanwhile, budget targets were released. The Governor, House Speaker, and Senate Majority Leader agreed to $477.5 million in new spending this session and another $62.7 million for the next fiscal biennium. These targets are simply a framework that will guide committee work. Each committee must craft a final budget bill within its financial limit. For example, the target for the Human Services committee is $42.13 The agreement includes a promise to dedicate $16 million to emergency medical services and $31 million to educator pensions. 

The NASW-MN legislative agenda includes a workforce priority to increase MA rates for mental health services. We are joining other mental health professionals in advocating for HF4981/SF5085. This bill aims to correct the significant MA underpayment for mental health services. Its success is entirely dependent on the HHS committees dedicating their target toward this cause. 

We are also working on implementing a bill passed last year allowing schools to access federal MA for social work mental health services. Federal approval is required before school districts can start billing for services, and we are actively collaborating with The Departments of Human Services and Education (DHS and MDE) to secure this approval. As part of this effort, we are supporting DHS’ proposal to expand psycho-education to include skills for mental health practitioners in school and community settings. Expanding to community providers will have a financial impact. 

Finally, this is a traditional bonding year. The Capital Investment committees are considering a long list of requests from state agencies and local units of government that total over $7 billion. The Governor has recommended $830 million in general obligation bonds and $152 million in other funding sources. 

Follow along with NASW-MN here in the final weeks of this session.

Though the session only began the second week of February, the first deadline is in less than two weeks. Bills that are not heard in committee in the House and Senate by March 22 are considered dead. 

NASW-MN is pursuing three major workforce priorities and we need you to take action this week so we can ensure that our workforce priorities advance this session. 

  • Expanding Title Protection to Counties (Limiting "social worker" to those with a degree in social work.) (HF3736/SF3491). This bill needs a hearing in both the Senate and House to advance this session.
  • Social Work Interstate Licensure Compact (Allowing multi-state licenses.) (HF4049/SF4076). This bill was heard in the Senate Health and Human Services committee on March 6. We are seeking a hearing in the House. 
  • Creating an Alternative Licensing Pathway Creating an Alternative Licensing Pathway (Expanding the provisional licensing pathway that allows supervision instead of exam.) (HF3963/SF3880). This bill was heard by the Senate Health and Human Services committee on 2/26 and will be heard in the House on 3/13. After additional committee stops and merging with a similar bill brought forward by the Board of Social Work, it will be considered during the conference committee between the House and Senate later this session. We are building upon our momentum. 

You can read more about these issues and follow directions to take action on our workforce priorities here. Facts and sample emails cued up to your Legislators are ready to go - just click, add a personal touch, and send. 

On this page you can also check the status of other NASW-MN priorities and take action. We are advocating in a number of other spaces including child protection, education, public safety, housing and more. 

While NASW-MN is advocating every day at the Capitol on behalf of social workers, nothing is more effective than personal outreach. Take a few moments to visit our advocacy page and take action today!

This week marks the official start of the session! As the second year in the biennium, the focus will be on bonding and policy. After a record setting pace last session with a historic surplus, the outlook is very different this year. Early projections anticipate a smaller surplus in the immediate future, followed by a long term structural imbalance. The Governor and majority leaders are reacting by tempering expectations with indications that they will focus on implementing investments they made last year, rather than passing new spending initiatives.

Meanwhile, committees have only until March 22 to take action on bills. Bills not related to finance or major appropriation must be heard in both a House and Senate committee by this date; if they fail to meet this deadline, the bill will be considered dead.

NASW-MN is working with Legislators on three workforce bills this session that we hope will be heard in the House Health committee and Senate Health and Human Service committee by March 22.

  1. Social Work Licensure Compact, sponsored by Representative Andy Smith and Senator Kelly Morrison and Senator Rob Kupec.
  2. License Reform (reducing barriers to social work licensing by expanding the existing provisional license option), sponsored by Representative Jessica Hanson and Senator Zaynab Mohamed.
  3. Extending social work title protection to county settings, sponsored by Representative Jessica Hanson and Senator Zaynab Mohamed. HF3736/SF3491

Call to Action

We are seeking advocacy from social workers to advance our professional priorities. Find your Legislator and match it to one of these 3 action steps:

  1. Encourage House Health committee members and Senate Health and Human Service committee members to support these issues in committee hearings and/or join us in encouraging a hearing. Encouraging the chairs, Representative Tina Liebling and Senator Melissa Wiklund, is especially important.
  2. Invite other Representatives and Senators to support these issues and/or sign on as a bill co-sponsor.
  3. Thank our bill sponsors for their work.

Use the NASW-MN tools to help you take action! Visit the NASW-MN Advocacy website to find your legislator, get information about the proposals, and use the sample messages teed up for you.

Help us take action by participating in Advocacy Week and Social Work Day at the Capitol! Advocacy week is Feb 26-29. This is the easiest way to engage and your voice is needed. You can find all the details here. Register here.

Our Partners

NASW-MN is collaborating with social work partners to elevate the profession. Social work professional organizations unite under the banner of The Coalition of Licensed Social Workers and includes: MN Association of Black Social Workers; MN Hmong Social Workers’ Coalition; MN Nursing Home Social Workers Association; MN School Social Workers Association; MN Society for Clinical Social Work; NASW-MN.

Partners in the Coalition of Licensed Social Workers are joining NASW-MN in taking action and advocating for our professional priorities this session.

Meanwhile, NASW-MN has spent months engaging with the Board of Social Work (BOSW) on these priorities and over a dozen social workers testified at their November and January board meetings.

  1. We have a shared position and bill on the interstate licensure compact.
  2. After initially opposing our efforts to extend social work title protection to county settings, they changed their position to neutral. They will be seeking legislation in 2025 to extend licensing regulations to county settings. We all hope the discussion about title protection this session raises awareness and aids this effort in the future.
  3. Our initial licensing reform proposals were very different, especially with exam requirements. NASW-MN’s position is that exams create unnecessary barriers to enter the profession, in particular for non-clinical licenses, while the BOSW maintained requirements to attempt an exam (and presumably fail) before pursuing an alternative pathway. Because our bills were so different, committee chairs were reluctant to take up either bill. After our advocacy, the BOSW reconsidered their initial positions and NASW-MN adjusted as well. Currently:
    1. We agree to focus our bills on creating an alternative pathway that does not require taking an exam. Because we have an existing alternative pathway through provisional licensing, our legislation expands eligibility to all social work graduates and removes the requirement to take the exam before pursuing it.
    2. The BOSW language does include an increase in supervision requirements for the provisional licensing pathway. This is counter to the NASW-MN position of reducing barriers to licensing.
    3. We have not found resolution for a shared bill. The BOSW indicated that they intend to move forward with their bill independently with Representative Vang as a sponsor. As mentioned above, NASW-MN had previously identified bill sponsors and are moving forward as well. The primary difference in our bills is the supervision requirements.

NASW-MN works with partners to elevate and support broader social justice issues named in our Legislative Agenda. We submitted letters to Legislative committees this month in support of:

  • End-of-Life Options Act
  • Funding to direct service programs for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, and general crime.

Locally, we encourage social workers living in Edina to engage in a local debate about affordable housing. 5780 Lincoln will be an 85 unit building serving low-income families with 18 units dedicated to supportive housing for families experiencing homelessness or mental illness. Supportive services will be provided by Touchstone. The city requires land use approvals and neighbors of the project are pressuring council members to reject this application. The project is completely funded and connected to the historic $1 billion state investment that NASW-MN advocated for last session. Edina residents should contact the city council and mayor.

Visit the NASW-MN Advocacy website to see the letter, learn more about the issue, and find steps to join in the advocacy for these efforts.

See you at Social Work Day at the Capitol on February 29!

Register Here

The start of the session is still weeks away, but you wouldn’t know it from all of the action. Because this is the second year in the biennium, it is a shorter session that won’t officially begin until February. Meanwhile, advocates and legislators anxious to resume policy activity are preparing. Our own NASW-MN SPAN committee has finalized our legislative agenda for the 2024 session. Review it here

Keep reading for more highlights and make sure you use our NASW-MN advocacy page as a resource between newsletters. 

Legislative Session Important Dates

  • Begins Monday, February 12. Ends no later than Monday, May 20.
  • NASW-MN Legislative Launch on-line CEU event: January 17.
  • Social Work Advocacy Week: February 26-29.
    • Social Work Day at the Capitol: February 29.
  • Details and Registration for Legislative Launch and Advocacy Week here

Budget Update

  • The MN Session Daily explains the state budget forecast. While another forecast is due in February, this projection will have a significant influence over legislation this session. Expect legislators to be conservative with spending. 

NASW-MN Social Work Professional Priorities

  • NASW-MN joined other professional social work organizations in submitting this letter to the Board of Social Work (BOSW). While we are in agreement and actively collaborating with the BOSW on the interstate licensure compact, we are concerned about their stance to oppose our efforts to remove county title exemption and their approach to licensing reform that will retain exam requirements. 
  • Representative Jessica Hanson is sponsoring our licensing reform bill. Learn more about the issue and our proposal by reviewing:
  • Representative Jessica Hanson is also sponsoring our bill to eliminate county title exemption. Learn more about the issue and our proposal by reviewing:
  • Representative Andy Smith and Senator Kelly Morrison are sponsoring our bill on the interstate licensure compact. Learn more about the issue and our proposal by reviewing:

Emerging Child Protection Focus

  • The Star Tribune is reporting on the child protection system in a series focusing on children who are harmed after returning to their parents. 
  • In response, Legislators called together the joint Legislative Task Force on Child Protection on December 4. You can find the meeting recording and materials here
  • While NASW-MN has consistently included a position statement on child protection in our legislative agenda, the SPAN committee is elevating it to be a priority in 2024. As professionals who specialize in complex family systems, we want to ensure our values of trauma-responsive policies that foster participation, restoration, safety, and resilience are included in discussions.

Whether you are trying to sort legislation passed last year or anticipating the next session, make sure you use the NASW-MN advocacy page on our website as a resource. Here you can find past updates, upcoming events, our legislative agenda, or access to our members only page with brief summaries of legislation that are especially relevant for social workers. 

We have three major workforce priorities this session, and we are seeking people who can speak about their lived experience with these issues. Reach out to Jenny Arneson if you have a story to share (jarneson.naswmn@socialworkers.org). 

NASW-MN Workforce Priorities:

  1. Pass the social work interstate licensure compact. Read what this means here.  
  2. Expand title protection to include county social workers to ensure only those with a social work degree can be called a social worker when employed by the county. Fact sheet
  3. Develop alternative pathways for social work licensing to ensure broader representation in the profession. This includes eliminating exam requirements for non-clinical licenses (LSW, LGSW, LISW), and expanding the provisional pathway for those pursuing a clinical license (LICSW). 

In addition to our work on passing this legislation, our policy team and SPAN committee will work with partners on other issues including affordable education and paid internships, increased mental health rates and access, child welfare reform, disability justice, and reimagined community safety. 

Mark your calendar for January 17 at noon for a full legislative preview.

Last session was extraordinary. Most social workers saw legislation passed that directly impacted their work and nearly all of NASW-MN’s legislative priorities passed. If you are still sorting out the legislative news, make sure you follow the NASW-MN advocacy page on our website. Not only can you review our legislative agenda from last year, you can access our members only page (called “Calls to Action and Session Information”). Here you will find brief summaries of legislation that are especially exciting for social workers. 

Meanwhile, we are looking forward to another exciting session for social workers! While the session does not officially begin until February 12, we are setting the stage for our advocacy work. Our legislative team and SPAN committee have three major workforce priorities this year:

  1. Pass the Social Work Interstate Licensure Compact. 
    • Read about what that means here
  2. Expand title protection to include county social workers to ensure only those with a social work degree can be called a social worker when employed by the county. We believe:
    • The social work practice act should apply to all settings, including counties. We have a long-term goal of eliminating licensing exemptions, but we recognize the workforce crisis makes passage impractical at this time. Meanwhile, it is an important interim step to expect that counties honor the social work title. 
  3. Develop alternative pathways for social work licensing to ensure broader representation in the profession. We believe:
    • Social workers pursuing a non-clinical license should not be required to take an exam that has demonstrated bias. To enter the field as a social worker with a LSW, LISW, or LGSW, it is sufficient to demonstrate proficiency with a degree from an accredited social work program that includes a field practicum. The expectation of 4,000 hours of supervision upon entrance to the field, more than other non-clinical professions require, is a better measure of competency than an exam, and continuing education requirements ensure personal growth in the field. 
    • In order to ensure success in a market that relies on insurance payment, social workers entering the field as a LICSW should continue to take the exam (until another option is available). 
  4. To address the reality of disparate LICSW exam results, the Provisional licensing option for the LICSW level should be expanded. Minnesota should remove requirements to be “foreign born” or speak English as a second language. Because we accept a provisional pathway for licensing, it is unnecessary to require applicants to take the licensing exam. 

SPAN committee members will spend the next month discerning what other priorities we want to elevate this year, and where we might partner with other advocacy organizations. If you are interested in this work, consider joining the SPAN committee! 

Whether or not you formally join a committee, we will be seeking people with lived experiences related to licensing exams, working in the county as a social worker, or trying to maintain licensure in multiple states. Reach out to Jenny Arneson if you have a story to share (jarneson.naswmn@socialworkers.org).

Historic. Unprecedented. Transformative. Record Breaking. Busy!

These words were used over and over during this legislative session. After starting the session with an unprecedented amount of surplus resources available and an incredibly fast pace that made this session busier than any in recent memory, including a record breaking number of bill introductions, the Legislature concluded its business (on-time!) on Monday, May 22, with historic amounts of spending and investments.

The majority party made it clear they were here to create transformative change for Minnesotans and while that claim is subjective, it is clear that much of the new legislation will have a direct impact in social work spaces.

There is far more information than we can possibly cover in just one newsletter. Keep reading for some information about our priorities and other important highlights. Also, plan to join us on Wednesday, June 7, where we will share even more information in our legislative recap. Finally, make sure you follow along on our advocacy website under the session info page (members only) where we will post deeper dives into particular legislative issues into June.

Have a story about the impact of legislation on your work or your clients’ lives? We would like to share that with our members too! Write Jenny Arneson (jarneson.naswmn@socialworkers.org) with new legislation that is especially impactful for your work or to your clients, and we will find a way to feature it.

Legislative Priorities

Recall that at the beginning of the session our Social Policy Action Network (SPAN) collaborated with our policy staff to create a legislative agenda.

Every area in our agenda was addressed this session and nearly all of our priorities passed.

Allow school districts to access federal Medical Assistance for social work mental health services.
Increase funding for school support personnel, including school social workers.
Full tuition grants to pursue a BSW or other undergrad degree at public MN colleges and universities if your income is less than $80,000.
Increase funding for loan forgiveness grants to underrepresented populations to pursue LICSW or other mental health degrees.
Increase funding for mental health provider supervision grants to increase diversity.
Create a Cultural and Ethnic Minority Infrastructure Grant Program to support a diverse workforce and culturally responsive mental health support.
Expand access to social work education through a new mental health training center connected to MN State University at Mankato.
3% rate increase for mental health services
Extend coverage of telehealth services for mental health, including audio only.
Enact Paid Family and Medical Leave.
Expand non-police response services including funding for embedded social workers.
Increased police accountability.
Enact common sense gun laws.
Legalize recreational cannabis, including expungement of past records.
Increase housing stability in Minnesota.

Look at this chart to better understand the details and journey of this priority legislation, including links to language and other reports with details.

Frequently Asked Questions

Has the Governor signed the bills? Do we think he will sign them?
The Governor has been clear that he will sign all the bills passed prior to the Legislature adjourning. Signing bills takes a little time as it is often done in a ceremonial manner, but most have been signed or will be soon. You can track the progress of bills signed into law on the Governor’s website.

Are the dollar amounts connected to these priorities “good?”

  • The Education committee invested a significant sum dedicated solely to funding school support personnel which includes school social workers. This is not a source of funding that has previously existed and any amount is worth celebrating. We are delighted to celebrate over $64 million of investment in this biennium and $117.7 million in on-going years. Plus, another $10 million was added to fund pipeline programs to support the workforce.
  • Tuition at public colleges and universities will now be free for Minnesotans who earn less than $80,000 a year. Originally the Senate Higher Education committee proposed income limits of $120,000 while the House committee had an entirely different plan that included tuition freezes and targeted degree programs. While the conference committee agreed to accept the Senate proposal, they did not have sufficient resources for their original proposal.
  • NASW-MN collaborated with the Mental Health Legislative Network (MHLN) and advocated for investments to grow the mental health workforce. The Governor proposed higher amounts of investment than was ultimately adopted and yet, there is over $6 million now available for supervision grants and $2.7 million for loan forgiveness. Furthermore, over $12 million is available for the Cultural and Ethnic Minority Infrastructure Grant Program that will support culturally responsive mental health services.
  • MHLN proposed a higher rate increase for mental health services, but this is the first rate increase in many years and is worth celebrating. Recently, the Iowa chapter of NASW pointed to MN rates to successfully advocate for their own increase.
  • An unprecedented amount has been invested in housing and homeless support.

What about the items that didn’t pass?

  • Our legislative priorities related to licensing and compact were elevated with the intent of further discussion among social workers and other stakeholders including the Board of Social Work. We did not expect to pass legislation this session and we will return next year, a policy session, with proposals.
  • While we drafted and introduced language to expand title protection to include county social workers, we expected to spend this session educating legislators and speaking to stakeholders. Legislator Chairs indicated a preference to work on licensing language next session.
  • We proposed pursuing one-time funding to support the Board of Social Work but were unable to pursue this without their support.
  • We collaborated with MHLN to pursue a large amount of money to support expanding the mental health workforce. We dropped one proposal, creating a tuition reimbursement program, in order to secure more funding for established programs.
  • The House Human Service committee considered many rate increasement proposals along with the ask to expand Homemaker Service billing options to include social work coordinating care. In the end, they focused on raising rates across the board about 14%, and dropped this more specific cost. The Senate never heard this bill.
  • Representative’s proposal for free social work education is redundant with the adopted Senate position of free education for all.
  • The paid internship proposal was introduced later in the session making passage more difficult. Again, with the focus on free education for all, any other funding proposals were secondary.

Headline Legislation

Tax refund through a child tax credit, estimated to reduce the number of children living in poverty by 30%.
Education funding shift. Instead of seeking funding each biennium, districts will now have an automatic increase tied to inflation. Furthermore, funding for special education services is significantly increased.
School lunch and breakfast is now universally free.
Expanded health coverage to undocumented Minnesotans. Codifying abortion rights (PRO Act)
Broader MNCare coverage for reproductive health care and ensured abortion coverage.
Dedicated funding for the 988 crisis and suicide lifeline through a telecom fee.
Restoring the vote to felons on parole.
Increased penalties for catalytic converter theft.
Earned Safe and Sick time.
Ban on conversion therapy.
Driver’s Licenses for All (removed undocumented restrictions).
Passed “bonding” or infrastructure bill (requiring 2/3 vote).
Creation of the Department of Children, Youth, and Families.
Funding for renewable energy projects.
Ban on “forever chemicals” in household items like makeup and dental floss.
Transportation funding, including light rail, rapid bus lines, and trains.
Nearly $270 million in aids to nursing homes.
Rate increases and workforce support for personal care assistants and direct support professionals.
Gender affirming health care protection
Uber and Lyft driver protections.
Funding for new State Office Building (office space for House members, Secretary of State).
New state flag design commissioned.

Historic. Unprecedented. Transformative. Record Breaking. Busy!

Keep following NASW-MN as we continue to unpack the change this session will bring to social workers, our clients, and Minnesotans.

The third deadline has passed and the Legislature is taking a break and will rejoin in session on April 11. This means we are in the phase of the Legislative session when new bills are not being heard in committee. Committees have been given financial targets which allows chairs and their committees to put together a complete package of bills, otherwise known as an omnibus bill. In past divided Legislatures, the House and Senate came out with different financial targets but this year, the two body leaders and the Governor have agreed which means we can anticipate a smoother negotiation process. The total spending will have a $17.6 billion impact on the budget. You can read about the details and breakdown here by the Daily Session.

Though the two bodies are working with the same targets for their omnibus bills, spending priorities are different between House and Senate committees. Next, committees will be sending their bill to their respective finance committee and then the floor. Following passage on the floor, they will form conference committees. Senate and House committees are paired based on topic with representation from each body, and they are charged with negotiating their final language and passage on the floor before the session ends on May 22.

Bills that have not yet been heard will not be passed this year. Many ideas will be included in omnibus bills and a few will continue as stand alone bills. We are pleased to share that a number of NASW-MN priorities were included in the omnibus bills so they remain part of the legislative discussion.

Keep reading for details, or refresh your memory of our Legislative Agenda with notes on the current status here.

NASW-MN will take the issue of licensing reform and title protection into next session. Not only does this give us time to engage others and determine our preferred language, the committee chairs prefer to address licensing issues next session. Rep. Jessica Hanson will be the lead on these issues. You can view the title protection language here: HF2846. We are working to develop our preferred alternative licensing language this spring so we are prepared for the beginning of the next session.

Keep following the latest news on our NASW-MN Advocacy page. Our session information and calls to action page has updates and direction on how to advocate to your legislator.

Highlights From Committee Omnibus Bills:

Senate Health and Human Services and House Health (SF2995/HF2930):

They both include:

  • Extension of telehealth audio services until July, 2025.
  • Bridge rate increase (4%) for mental health services until rate analysis study is complete.
  • Establishing funding and fees for 988 Crisis and Suicide Lifeline.
  • Some funding for mental health supervision grants.
  • Funding for the Cultural and Ethnic Minority Infrastructure grants.
  • Reforming SSI benefits for foster children (House moving through children and families committee, HF238).
  • Homeless youth cash grant pilot project (House moving through children and families committee, HF238).
  • Homeless Youth Act, $10.7 million(House moving through children and families committee, HF238).
  • Emergency housing services, $8.6 million (House moving through children and families committee, HF238).
  • Transitional housing funding, $5.4 million (House moving through children and families committee, HF238).
  • Childcare investment (House moving through children and families committee, HF238).

They differ:

  • The House bill includes funding for telehealth services in libraries with low broadband access.
  • The Senate matches the Governor’s recommendation for mobile mental health crisis investment into 26-27 while the House only invests in this 24-25 biennium.
  • The House establishes eligibility for MN Care for undocumented Minnesotans while the Senate only includes the children of undocumented Minnesotans.
  • The House bill combines a health worker safety bill with the MSSA human service worker safety bill, sharing resources. The Senate only includes the health worker safety bill.
  • The House invests more in the mental health supervision grant program, but the Senate includes other components of the MHLN workforce bill including the mental health professional loan forgiveness, the mental health scholarship program, and the cultural community education grants.
  • The Senate bill includes a rate increase for mental health services.

Neither includes:

  • Complete removal of expiration dates of audio only services.

Senate Human Services and House Human Services Policy (SF2934/HF2847):

They both include:

  • Funding for the behavioral health training center at Minnesota State University at Mankato. (Note: the House has it in the Human Service committee and the Senate has it in the Health and Human Service committee, so expect a jurisdiction shift.)
  • Rate increases for disability, elderly, and homemaker services. Includes increased funding for the waiver programs like CADI and Elderly, and Personal Care Assistance through Community First.

They differ:

  • The House bill includes phasing out the practice of allowing subminimum wage to disabled workers.
  • The Senate bill has much higher rate increases - in some cases up to 50% compared to the House which is closer to 16%.
  • The Senate bill introduces a general rate increase for nursing facilities and direct grants to certain facilities.

Neither includes:

  • Mental health services was assigned to the jurisdiction of Health and Human Services.
  • Expanding eligibility for coordinating care for homemaker services.

Senate and House Education Committees (SF2684/HF2497)


They both include:

  • Funding for school support personnel.
  • Third party billing language for school social workers.

They differ:

  • The Senate’s school support personnel language requires districts to invest matching funding. The House invests $76 in the biennium and in the base. The Senate invests $100 million in the biennium and the base.

Senate and House Higher Education Committees (SF2705/HF2073):

They differ:

  • The Senate includes 4 year full tuition scholarships (for those with income up to $80,000/year, down from original proposal of earned income of $120,000/year).
  • The House includes direct funding for universities with tuition freezes.

Neither includes:

  • Social work scholarships.
  • Paid internships.

Make sure you follow our calls to action on the NASW-MN Advocacy page until the session ends on May 22!

The Legislature has been extraordinarily busy since the policy team’s last report in February. Much of the frenzy is due to the first deadline on March 10, the point in time in which bills should be moving out of committee in at least one chamber. To ensure they can move forward with as many ideas as possible, many committees add extra meetings extending into evening hours. Bills must be heard in both House and Senate non-finance committees by March 24. After April 4, finance committees can not take up new bills. We do not expect the pace to let up!

Well over 4000 bills have been introduced thus far and as you’ve likely read in the headlines, many big reforms such as restoring the right to vote for felons on parole have been signed into law. This issue will focus on updates directly related to some of our legislative agenda priorities.

School Social Workers and Medicaid Billing (SF1028/HF1175)

  • This bill will allow reimbursement through Federal Medicaid for behavioral/mental health services that school social workers currently provide to eligible students with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP). Read the full policy brief here.
  • The bill was heard in the Senate Human Service committee onMarch 6, and in the House Health committee on March 8.
  • The Department of Human Services (DHS) and NAMI are on record opposing this bill.
  • As you see in the support letter from NASW-MN and the Clinical Society here, we offered testimony about our professional values and our licensing qualifications as mental health providers and practitioners.
  • Additionally, school district billing staff shared their expertise about other states who successfully bill, and the Federal guidance that recommends Minnesota follow suit. Furthermore, disability justice advocates including PACER and The Arc Minnesota joined us in speaking out about the benefits for students.
  • The bill passed both committees and is now going to the Senate Finance and House Education Finance and Policy committees.
  • Find out who represents you and if your Representative or Senator serves on the Education committee (check the links above), please reach out and let them know you support SF1028/HF1175.

Title Protection

  • Social work title protection is defined in MN Statute 148E.195 and 148E.280. It does not restrict social work practice but rather, it limits the use of the title of social worker. Counties are exempt from this rule.
  • NASW-MN is advocating to eliminate the county exemption for social work title protection.
  • You can read our explanationhere.
  • We are working with Representative Jessica Hanson to draft language.
  • It is our intention to work on this bill into the next session.

Provisional Licensing Expansion

  • It is a NASW-MN legislative priority to develop alternative pathways for social work licensure to ensure broader representation in the profession. We have hosted discussion meetings about this topic for professionals, and advocated to the Board of Social Work to take a similar stance.
  • Currently MN has one path to licensure that falls outside of passing an exam. This “provisional license” is available for anyone who speaks English as a second language and is born in a foreign country. These applicants must take the exam at least once but if they fail and otherwise qualify, they can obtain a provisional license. Additional supervision hours are required.
  • Recently the Board of Social Work (BOSW) voted to support efforts to remove criteria for the provisional license. This will allow anyone who fails the exam to apply for a provisional license, not just those who speak English as a second language or were born outside of the USA.
  • Prior to the BOSW decision, a group of community mental health advocates led by Children’s Hospital, advocated to the Board for expanded provisional license options. NASW-MN is connected to these providers through the Mental Health Legislative Network (MHLN), and we support their advocacy.
  • Because there is no longer time in this session to bring forward a separate bill about licensing, we propose amending an existing bill. NASW-MN worked with MHLN to create a bill to reduce barriers to employment in HF1436, and this bill is most suited as a vehicle for expanding provisional licensing. (See details about other components in HF1436 below.)
  • Meanwhile, Rep Jessica Hanson, at the request of the BOSW, has drafted language to expand provisional licensing.
  • The NASW-MN policy team is working with all the parties to ensure that social work voice is represented in any potential legislation this session.
  • We recognize that expanding provisional licensing is a good way to immediately reduce barriers to licensure and therefore, support these efforts. Nevertheless, this step still requires potential licensees to take part in an expensive and biased testing process. We will continue to explore other alternative pathways for action as soon as the next session.
  • We will not support efforts to raise licensure fees connected to expanding alternative licensing paths.

Other Efforts to Change Social Work Licenses

  • The Social Work Practice Act, MN Statutes, Sections 148E.280, regulates the practice of social work in MN. It defines what activities must be performed by social workers as well as the education and training needed to apply for licensures. Counties are exempt from the practice act.
  • Another group of mental health advocates, also connected to NASW-MN through the Mental Health Legislative Network (MHLN), have indicated interest in expanding licensing exemptions.
  • Since the NASW-MN legislative agenda states that we support “the establishment and maintenance of standards of professional social work practice and active participation in state programs for the licensing of social workers,” we will not support expanding licensing exemptions. We support making the licensing process more inclusive, but not eliminating licenses.

Reducing Barriers to Joining the Social Work Profession SF1679/HF1436

  • HF1436 is authored by Rep Vang and was heard in the House Human Service Policy committee. It has been referred to the House Human Service Finance committee and needs to be heard in the Senate, but it survived the first deadline.
  • This bill focuses on reducing barriers to clinical supervision, especially for clinicians in under-represented communities.
  • See the NASW-MN letter of support detailing the benefits of this bill.
  • Find out who represents you and if your Representative serves on the Human Service Committee or your Senator on the Health and Human Service committee, please reach out and let them know you support SF1679/HF1436.

Reducing Barriers to a Social Work Education SF1986/HF783

  • House and Senate leaders are moving to provide grant opportunities to cover the full cost of tuition for a 4 year degree at state colleges.
  • Not covered in this bill, but proposed by Rep Jessica Hanson (in collaboration with NASW-MN) is a proposal to include paid social work practicums as part of the proposal.
  • Additionally, Rep. Jessica Hanson is also proposing to extend college scholarships to cover the cost of a MSW degree.
  • Read more details in our policy brief.
  • This bill was heard in the Senate Higher Education committee and has survived the first deadline. Rep. Hanson’s proposals have not yet been considered.
  • Find out who represents you and if your Representative serves on the Higher Education committee, let them know you support their idea and ask how to help. If your Senator is on the Finance committee, please reach out and let them know you support SF1986/HF783 and would like it included in the final state budget. Make sure you share your support of adding paid social work practicums to this proposal.

Mental Health Priorities

  • Removing expiration dates for audio services through telehealth benefits show up in SF1826/HF1706. This was heard in the House Commerce committee and referred to the Health Finance and Policy committee. It awaits a hearing in the Senate Health and Human Service committee.
  • SF2588/HF1566 which will fund the 988 crisis line passed out of the House Human Service Policy committee and referred to the Human Service Finance committee. Like the telehealth bill, it awaits a hearing in the Senate Health and Human Service committee.
  • To share your support for your mental health priorities, find out who represents you and reach out to members on committees hearing these bills.

This is a fast-paced legislative session with more action than anyone can remember! Committees pack their agenda and bills are quickly moving out and onto the floor. The Revisor’s office, the staff responsible for conforming legislative language, is seeing a record number of bills come through their office - over 3,000 to date. Unlike the past many decades, combining many smaller bills into one multi-million package in an end-game omnibus bill is out of fashion and long floor debates about single bills are back in style. Blink and you will miss something.

Prior to the session the NASW-MN SPAN committee and policy team developed our Legislative Agenda. Nearly all of our priorities (and more!) have come up in the first month of session. Because there is so much activity, the policy team encourages NASW-MN members to follow our advocacy page and in particular, our member only calls to action and session information page for more detailed and current information. You can follow our blog posts for articles explaining policy proposals and their status, or read our team’s policy briefs about particular topics. Make sure you join us during Advocacy Week February 27-March 2!

As you likely read in the headlines, a number of high profile bills have made it to the Governor’s desk while others are on their way, making their way through the House and Senate floors. (Bullets with * have more information on our NASW-MN advocacy page):

  • The debut was a tax conformity bill that passed unanimously in both chambers. The quick signature by the Governor in week two had everyone celebrating.
  • In a similar show of bi-partisianship, a bill known as the Crown Act* explicitly prohibits discrimination in housing, employment, and other areas on the basis of hair.
  • A clean energy bill wasn’t as popular. The House debated nearly 7 hours before passing the proposed requirement for utilities to adapt to carbon free energy sources by 2040, and the Senate passed it a few days later. It’s been signed by the Governor.
  • Protect Reproductive Options*, otherwise known as the PRO Act, passed after Senate President Bobby Joe Champion presided over an epic 15 hour debate. With the exception of one DFL representative from Winona, the bill passed along party lines and the Governor signed it into law on January 31. It states that every pregnant individual has a fundamental right "to continue the pregnancy and give birth, or obtain an abortion.”
  • The driver’s licenses for all bill* will expand driver license eligibility to include undocumented Minnesotans. It passed the House floor and is making its way to the Senate.
  • The House recently restored the right to vote* to felons when they are released from incarceration, and the Senate is headed in a similar direction. (Read more here.)

Not yet on the floors, but topics moving through House and Senate committees include:

NASW-MN letters of support regarding school support personnel and a proposal to ban conversion therapy for children and vulnerable adults.

Meanwhile, the Governor and Lt Governor released their initial budget proposal. In the $65.2 billion proposal, they include:

  • Paid Family and Medical Leave, and increased access to Earned Safe and Sick Time.
  • Direct payments of $2,000 for households with a federally adjusted income of less than $150,000 and $1,000 for individuals making less than $75,000. Families could get an additional $200 per child, for up to three dependents.
  • Child care assistance through expanded child tax credits to families and increased CCAP.
  • Early childhood investment by establishing a public full-day Pre-K program and expanding Early Learning Scholarships.
  • Stabilizing income and food security for low-incoming Minnesotans by simplifying reporting requirements and increased financial investment in MFIP, SNAP, and food shelves.
  • Increased funding to education through investment in special education, English Language Learners, and tying funding to inflation.
  • Investment in mental health for students through dedicated funding to school support personnel* and other school based programs for Pre-K through high school.
  • Support to young people aging out of foster care with access to income, and additional support to connect families and incarcerated individuals.
  • Workplace growth through investment to Minnesotans disproportionately impacted by unemployment or needing additional support.
  • Rate and waiver adjustments* in settings serving disabled and elderly Minnesotans.
  • Investment in fighting climate change.
  • Broadband expansion.
  • Expanded public health care insurance options.
  • Investment in expanding access to mental health services and substance abuse support.
  • Continued telehealth funding and audio-only services.
  • Investment in emergency housing and rental assistance.
  • Preserving and building affordable housing.

To pay for the proposed budget increases, Governor Walz draws from the $17.6 billion surplus, combining one-time and on-going surplus funds. It also includes tax increases; capital gain taxes will go up for those earning more than $500,000, and contrary to Senators in his own party, he would not fully exempt Social Security income. Furthermore, in order to sustain the proposed Paid Family and Medical Leave, the payroll tax will increase starting in 2026.

The Governor and Lt. Governor argue that these investments will reduce the childhood poverty rate in Minnesota by 25% and provide critical services necessary for healthy children and families. Critics complain that if this budget passes, Minnesota will have the highest tax rates in the nation and will be undesirable for business investment. Next steps include another budget forecast by the MN management and budget department and budget debates within the Legislature.

Meanwhile, Minnesota hasn’t passed funding for construction in 2 years so a pent up demand is not surprising. The Governor’s budget includes $3.3 billion in bonding proposals, and the Legislature is introducing new bills each day related to infrastructure. Any bonding bill must include a super majority, so Republican member support is critical.