It has been a busy time meeting with people in my office at the Capitol. New Higher Education Commissioner Dennis Olson, Farm Bureau representatives and a group from the Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association provide just a sampling of who has come by lately. It is good to get feedback from these people and others to hear their side of things as committees prepare to make decisions on bills that may impact them.
Also, representatives from Minnesota State were in the Capitol Rotunda this week to share with the public information regarding their respective institutions and programs. For instance, people from the Minnesota State College Southwest campus in Red Wing set up a display to highlight a rare program the school offers for repairing wood instruments.
As for legislative developments, House Democrats have introduced a bill that would raise taxes by an unspecified amount on every working Minnesotan and their employer to create yet another layer of bureaucracy that would be used by less than 1 percent of our population.
It is referred to as a “paid family leave” bill, but the tax increases and significant costs of implementation are very concerning. Our state would be the only state in the country (in addition to Washington, D.C.) that taxes both employers and employees to pay for this.
This should be an issue that is up to individual employers to decide instead of another state mandate being placed upon them. The unintended consequence could be that incentive is removed for employers to offer the generous benefits packages many make available today, dialing down to meet the minimum benefits this bill provides.
On another subject, legislators have filed another data practices request with the Department of Human Services regarding fraud in Minnesota’s Childcare Assistance Program.
Four previous data practices requests have been ignored and the hope is our new governor and his administration will be more responsive than the previous regime. The request concerns the allegations of upwards of $100 million of CCAP funds being allocated to fraudulent childcare facilities, possibly with tax dollars going overseas to terrorist groups.
The nonpartisan Office of the Legislative Auditor has been investigating this subject and is expected to reveal its findings on the suspected fraud within the next month.
Lastly, given the recent cold snap, it is appropriate Frostbite Festival will take place in Fergus Falls this weekend. I will be attending the Kiwanis pancake feed at the YMCA Sunday morning, so hope to see you there, in the warm and toasty indoors.