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Some pregnant Minnesotans can qualify for disability parking permits under new law

Some pregnant Minnesotans can qualify for disability parking permits under new law
Some pregnant Minnesotans can qualify for disability parking permits under new law 01:55

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- These days, State Sen. Julia Coleman is busy trying to keep up with three boys under the age of four. But she still remembers her struggles navigating life—even basic errands—while pregnant with twins.

"I remember sitting in my car, far away from the appointment I had to go to, white-knuckling my steering wheel saying, 'I can do this, I can do this, I can do this,'" Coleman, a Republican from Waconia, said.  "Each slow step I took was just searing pain."

University of Minnesota Humphrey policy fellows came to her this legislative session with an idea: expanding accommodations for Minnesotans who are pregnant, so they qualify for disability parking permits.

Coleman said didn't think twice and carried the legislation at the state capitol.

"It just makes so much sense," she explained in an interview Thursday. "What it doesn't do is say is pregnancy is a disability. But what it does do is say if your pregnancy is causing mobility issues like disabilities do, you're eligible for these tags temporarily."

State statute defines the circumstances for which someone qualifies, including being unable to walk without significant risk of falling or without stopping to rest every 200 feet. Now if a pregnant Minnesotans experience any of the conditions for eligibility, they too can get disability tags with a medical professional's certification. 

Trevor Turner, public policy director at the Minnesota Council on Disability, said the language clears up any confusion. But since pregnancy alone isn't a disability, the bill's authors worked to find a middle ground.

"There was concern that if we simply add pregnancy on there, it would expand considerably the amount of people using the finite resource of disability parking," Turner said. "But we also know there are conditions of pregnancy that can be disabilities, so we wanted to be able to recognize that as well."

"That was the intent of the bill," he continued. "To clarify for doctors or anyone who was unsure about that, that yes pregnancy can be a qualifying condition if it meets the conditions already outlined in the statute."

A separate bill that passed the Minnesota Legislature this year expands pregnancy accommodations in the workplace like longer break times and adjustments to schedules or assignments.

It follows a law that passed in 2021 requiring paid lactation breaks for nursing mothers, a bill Coleman also worked on in a bipartisan way.

"These are really simple, small legislative changes that make a world of a difference for moms," Coleman said.

She in the future disability parking can expand to cover anyone in the third trimester of pregnancy, regardless of mobility issues, to prevent any injury. 

"I think it's a first step in the right direction for the mamas in Minnesota."

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