With the Minnesota 2022-2023 biennial budget completed, MinnCAP is excited to share some of the legislative changes that will positively impact the participants in our agencies’ programs and people with low incomes across the state. Many of these policy wins are built on years of advocacy by our volunteers, staff and coalition partners and represent significant investments in Community Action Agencies (CAAs) and our partner organizations, which will improve the lives of Minnesotans with low incomes and help people move out of poverty.
Policy changes include:
- Increase the Minnesota Community Action Grant (MCAG) and create more equity among grantees - MCAG supports all 24 Community Action Agencies and 11 Tribal Nations, providing them with flexible funding. The legislature approved a $1 million annual increase to MCAG, which will help the CAAs meet the growing needs in their communities. The legislature also increased the base funding for the smallest Tribal grantees, matching the Tribal base funding for MCAG with the base funding for the CAAs.
- Drivers’ license suspension reform and traffic and parking fines and fees waivers - Our partners at the Minnesota Asset Building Coalition successfully led the work on these two related provisions that lessen the disproportionate interaction people with low incomes have with the criminal justice system. Together, these provisions will ensure Minnesotans with low incomes avoid being indebted to the state and can maintain their transit options.
- Changes to volunteer driver laws - The budget included two provisions related to volunteer drivers: exempting volunteer drivers from being classified as drivers-for-hire for insurance purposes and helping volunteer drivers receive the full federal mileage reimbursement rate. These two provisions will ensure the state maintains a strong network of volunteer drivers, who provide essential transit to Minnesotans with low incomes. Our partners at the Volunteer Driver Coalition led the advocacy efforts to successfully include these provisions.
- Investments in homelessness prevention and services - Thanks to the work of many partners in the Homes for All MN Coalition, the legislature increased the investments in services for people experiencing homelessness and homeless prevention programs across multiple budgets. These include increased investments in already existing programs like the Emergency Services Program, which is a flexible program to provide shelter and essential services to people experiencing homelessness, and new programs like the Youth Homelessness Prevention Program in the tax bill.
- Modifications to childcare programs - After many years of advocacy, the Legislature used funding from the Federal Government to increase the payment rate and reduce the waitlist for the Child Care Assistance Program, both of which will help families with low incomes access childcare. Although these are necessary changes, many other changes to early childhood education were not included in the final budget, including the increases to Head Start funding and modifications to the Head Start formula our partners at the Minnesota Head Start Association advocated for.
- Upgrades to the Conservation Improvement Program (CIP) - Although these passed earlier in the 2021 legislative session, they represent significant changes to Low-Income CIP, which helps households with low incomes conserve energy and reduce energy costs. In particular, Low-Income CIP can now be used for pre-weatherization, especially asbestos abatement, which will help us serve more households and reduce weatherization deferrals across the state.
- The Legislature also passed an eviction moratorium off-ramp, which creates a tiered process to restart evictions over the next eleven months. For more information about the eviction moratorium off-ramp, please see the Minnesota Housing information page. And, if you need rental assistance, apply to RentHelpMN today to receive the help you need to stay safely housed.
Join Us and Thank Minnesota Legislators - for making Community Action and the programs that move Minnesotans out of poverty a priority!