The Minnesota Capitol. Photo by Max Nesterak/Minnesota Reformer.
Though unable to pass major education and public safety bills, lawmakers on Sunday approved nearly $93 million for mental health initiatives just minutes before adjourning.
“Addressing the mental health crisis facing our communities, especially in our youth, has been a bipartisan priority all year and after working around the clock in the final hours of this session, we were able to pass a strong bill that will make an impact in the lives of Minnesotans across the state,” Sen. Jason Isaacson, DFL-Shoreview, said in a statement.
The bill creates a pilot program establishing mental health urgency rooms, described as family-friendly spaces where minors experiencing mental health crises can go outside of hospital emergency rooms.
The money will also provide ongoing funding for mobile crisis units; school-linked mental health services and shelter-linked mental health.
“It will help,” said Sue Abderholden, executive director of NAMI Minnesota, a mental health advocacy group. “We are very grateful for what’s in (the legislation).”
The bill creates a loan forgiveness program for mental health professionals, as well as a $1 million grant for a Black-focused community mental health provider.
The legislation was approved in the final minutes of the legislative session on Sunday night, ahead of a constitutionally set deadline of midnight Monday to approve bills. It now awaits Gov. Tim Walz’s signature.
It was approved as part of another bill that addresses mental competency of defendants in court proceedings, including creating a State Competency Restoration Board.
Still, Abderholden says other mental-health goals were left unfinished as part of the public safety, education and health and human services budget that lawmakers failed to finish Sunday.
NAMI Minnesota is among the long list of constituency groups calling for lawmakers to return in special session to approve roughly $8 billion in spending.
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