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HF 312

1st Engrossment - 92nd Legislature (2021 - 2022) Posted on 02/15/2021 03:52pm

KEY: stricken = removed, old language.
underscored = added, new language.

Current Version - 1st Engrossment

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A bill for an act
relating to human services; child welfare; modifying requirements for
court-appointed counsel in child protection cases; requiring a report; appropriating
money; amending Minnesota Statutes 2020, section 260C.163, subdivision 3.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA:

Section 1.

Minnesota Statutes 2020, section 260C.163, subdivision 3, is amended to read:


Subd. 3.

Appointment of counsel.

(a) The child, parent, guardian or custodian has the
right to effective assistance of counsel in connection with a proceeding in juvenile court as
provided in this subdivision.

(b) Except in proceedings where the sole basis for the petition is habitual truancy, if the
child desires counsel but is unable to employ it, the court shall appoint counsel to represent
the child who is ten years of age or older under section 611.14, clause (4), or other counsel
at public expense.

(c) deleted text beginExcept in proceedings where the sole basis for the petition is habitual truancy, if the
parent, guardian, or custodian desires counsel but is unable to employ it, the court shall
appoint counsel to represent the parent, guardian, or custodian in any case in which it feels
that such an appointment is appropriate if the person would be financially unable to obtain
counsel under the guidelines set forth in section 611.17.
deleted text endnew text begin In all child protection proceedings
where a child risks removal from the care of the child's parent, guardian, or custodian,
including a child in need of protection or services petition, an action pursuing removal of
a child from the child's home, a termination of parental rights petition, or a petition for
permanent out-of-home placement, if the parent, guardian, or custodian desires counsel and
is eligible for counsel under section 611.17, the court shall appoint counsel to represent
each parent, guardian, or custodian prior to the first hearing on the petition and at all stages
of the proceedings.
new text end Court appointed counsel shall be at county expense as outlined in
paragraph (h).

(d) In any proceeding where the subject of a petition for a child in need of protection or
services is ten years of age or older, the responsible social services agency shall, within 14
days after filing the petition or at the emergency removal hearing under section 260C.178,
subdivision 1, if the child is present, fully and effectively inform the child of the child's
right to be represented by appointed counsel upon request and shall notify the court as to
whether the child desired counsel. Information provided to the child shall include, at a
minimum, the fact that counsel will be provided without charge to the child, that the child's
communications with counsel are confidential, and that the child has the right to participate
in all proceedings on a petition, including the opportunity to personally attend all hearings.
The responsible social services agency shall also, within 14 days of the child's tenth birthday,
fully and effectively inform the child of the child's right to be represented by counsel if the
child reaches the age of ten years while the child is the subject of a petition for a child in
need of protection or services or is a child under the guardianship of the commissioner.

(e) In any proceeding where the sole basis for the petition is habitual truancy, the child,
parent, guardian, and custodian do not have the right to appointment of a public defender
or other counsel at public expense. However, before any out-of-home placement, including
foster care or inpatient treatment, can be ordered, the court must appoint a public defender
or other counsel at public expense in accordance with this subdivision.

(f) Counsel for the child shall not also act as the child's guardian ad litem.

(g) In any proceeding where the subject of a petition for a child in need of protection or
services is not represented by an attorney, the court shall determine the child's preferences
regarding the proceedings, including informing the child of the right to appointed counsel
and asking whether the child desires counsel, if the child is of suitable age to express a
preference.

(h) Court-appointed counsel for the parent, guardian, or custodian under this subdivision
is at county expense. If the county has contracted with counsel deleted text beginmeeting qualifications under
deleted text enddeleted text begin paragraph (i)deleted text end, the court shall appoint the counsel retained by the county, unless a conflict
of interest exists. If a conflict exists, after consulting with the chief judge of the judicial
district or the judge's designee, the county shall contract with competent counsel to provide
the necessary representation. The court may appoint only one counsel at public expense for
the first court hearing to represent the interests of the parents, guardians, and custodians,
unless, at any time during the proceedings upon petition of a party, the court determines
and makes written findings on the record that extraordinary circumstances exist that require
counsel to be appointed to represent a separate interest of other parents, guardians, or
custodians subject to the jurisdiction of the juvenile court.

deleted text begin (i) Counsel retained by the county under paragraph (h) must meet the qualifications
deleted text end deleted text begin established by the Judicial Council in at least one of the following: (1) has a minimum of
deleted text end deleted text begin two years' experience handling child protection cases; (2) has training in handling child
deleted text end deleted text begin protection cases from a course or courses approved by the Judicial Council; or (3) is
deleted text end deleted text begin supervised by an attorney who meets the minimum qualifications under clause (1) or (2).
deleted text end

new text begin EFFECTIVE DATE. new text end

new text begin This section is effective July 1, 2022.
new text end

Sec. 2. new text beginAPPROPRIATIONS.
new text end

new text begin (a) $520,000 in fiscal year 2022 and $520,000 in fiscal year 2023 are appropriated from
the general fund to the commissioner of human services for costs related to court-appointed
counsel in child protection proceedings pursuant to Minnesota Statutes, section 260C.163,
subdivision 3. The commissioner shall distribute funds to counties that do not currently
provide court-appointed counsel to all parents, guardians, or custodians who qualify for
court-appointed counsel at emergency protective care hearings for reimbursement of costs
related to providing this counsel.
new text end

new text begin (b) $....... in fiscal year 2022 is appropriated from the general fund to the commissioner
of human services to assist counties with implementing the requirements of Minnesota
Statutes, section 260C.163, subdivision 3, and title IV-E reimbursement, including staffing
and statewide data collection. Data to be collected includes but is not limited to:
new text end

new text begin (1) data documenting the presence of court-appointed counsel for qualifying parents,
guardians, or custodians at each emergency protective hearing;
new text end

new text begin (2) total annual court-appointed parent representation expenditures for each county; and
new text end

new text begin (3) additional demographic information that would assist counties in obtaining title IV-E
reimbursement.
new text end

new text begin The commissioner must complete and submit a report on the data in this section and efforts
to assist counties with implementation to the chairs and ranking minority members of the
legislative committees with jurisdiction over human services and judiciary policy and finance
on or before July 1, 2022. This is a onetime appropriation.
new text end