Public Policy Update: Lots of Wilder Advocacy at the Capitol

3/16/21 by Dominic McQuerry

Over the past couple of weeks, Wilder staff and community have engaged on a number of different bills at the capitol. Here are some highlights:

  • VP of Community Mental Health and Wellness Pahoua Yang testified on a Behavioral Health Workforce Bill House File 970 in the House Commerce and Health Finance and Policy Committees. The bill has now cleared all FOUR committees in the house and is waiting on a senate hearing.
  • Children's & Family Mental Health Services Team Member Sara Schmidt testified on a bill to create permanent practices for the use of telehealth with everything we’ve learned since COVID in the Senate Commerce Committee. Sara highlighted the importance of audio-only as a service option that can increase access for clients.
Virtual Homeless Day on the Hill March 2021
  • ​​​​SPPN Parent Leader Erica Valliant and Director of Public Policy and Community Relations Dominic McQuerry helped rally advocates on Day 2 of Virtual Homeless Days on the Hill. They shared their experience in helping establish the Homework Starts with Home program. Can you spot them in the photo?

Thank you to all Wilder staff and community who have engaged in any way this session. Keep a look out at the bottom of these posts for chances to engage.

There is a lot in the American Rescue Plan

On Thursday March 11, 2021 President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law. This is the second largest bill ever passed and is full of provisions that could help many who are struggling due to the pandemic. The $1400 stimulus checks are straightforward, but it will likely take years for us to understand the full impact of this bill, but here are highlights that could directly impact our community.

Income Supports

  • Direct Payments - $1400 payments to individuals making up to $75,000 ($150,000 for couples).
  • Extended unemployment benefits – the $300/week increase will continue through Sept. 6, 2021.
  • Child Tax Credit – The Child Tax Credit was made fully refundable for tax year 2021 and increased from $2,000 to $3,600 for children under 6 years old, and to $3,000 for older children.

Basic Needs

  • $40 billion for child care related spending
  • $52 billion for housing, homelessness and utility assistance
  • 4 month WIC increase of up to $35 per month
  • Extends the 15% increase in SNAP benefits through September (was set to go through June)
  • $1.4 billion for the Older Adults Act including nutrition programs

Health Care

  • Increase in subsidies for some who buy their insurance through marketplaces like MNSure
  • COBRA - Bill includes 100% subsidy for COBRA premiums through the end of September.

Public Health

  • $7.5 billion to distribute and administer vaccines
  • $46 billion for diagnosing and tracing COVID

St. Paul Community-First Public Safety Commission Town Halls

On March 16 and March 20, the Citizen’s League will be convening town halls to get community input that will help inform the commission they are convening on alternative response models to police for priority 4 and priority 5 calls for service. If you cannot attend, there are alternative methods for submitting input available at the bottom of this page.



Advocate for a More Equitable Behavioral Health Workforce in Minnesota

Wilder is a proud supporter of House File 970 / Senate File 1362, a comprehensive approach to creating and sustaining a more culturally diverse and informed behavioral health workforce in our state. We know that the pandemic, murder of George Floyd and general instability of our times has weighed on our collective mental health. We also know that it can be difficult to find culturally appropriate care, especially for those from underrepresented or underserved communities.

Please support this bill which seeks to improve access to care by calling or emailing your legislators (find them here). Use the proposed script and don’t be afraid to make it your own by including specifics about why you think a culturally diverse and informed mental health workforce is important!

Proposed SCRIPT

Hello Representative/Senator __________,

I live in (CITY of RESIDENCE) and am reaching out to ask you to support HF970/SF1362. During these trying times, the demand for accessible and appropriate mental health services has never been higher. Our state needs to invest in building and maintaining a diverse mental health workforce to meet that demand. Please support HF 970/ SF 1362 to keep Minnesota on a path of developing the workforce we need for today and into the future.

Thank you,

(Your Name)

Policy Pro Corner

Tip # 4: Create Space for Restoration and Joy aka Be Kind to Yourself

Often times when we engage in policymaking work, we are focusing on issues that we care deeply about like access to basic needs or reforms to the systems that oppress us. Because of the gravity of these issues, it can be tough to convince yourself that taking a break is acceptable, but if you don’t make space to heal yourself, you will burn out. Here are a few things you can do to help remind yourself that it’s okay to take self-care time for yourself:

  • Find a co-conspirator that you can work with to look out for each other
  • Create dedicated time on your calendar for something that brings you joy…and don’t cancel it
  • Celebrate when you get a win, even if it’s not the end of your journey.

Check out this blog post by Pahoua K. Yang, VP of Community Mental Health & Wellness about the critical investment of self-care.