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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Peggy Scott (R)

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Legislative Update (March 29, 2019)

Friday, March 29, 2019

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

We’re concluding another busy week at the Capitol and, before the weekend, here’s a quick update with some legislative news.

Elections Bill

This year the House is considering an elections bill that would make significant changes to elections, voting rights, campaign finance, and redistricting. I have some deep concerns with the potential impact of many of the measures within this proposal.

One of the most alarming provisions is one that would create an automatic voter registration system where anyone who applies for a driver’s license would automatically be registered to vote. The problem here is that not everyone who can obtain a driver’s license is eligible to vote, which could result in people voting who aren’t eligible to do so. With Democrats pushing for driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants, we could also end up with ineligible non-citizens voting in elections if this were to become law. In addition, with the countless problems our state’s licensing system (MNLARS) has encountered, I’m very concerned with the state’s ability to properly manage this new law and make sure that only eligible voters are voting.

Another area of concern is the bill would restore the right to vote for felons while they’re still serving their sentences. In Minnesota, felons serve two-thirds of their sentence while incarcerated in a correctional facility and the final one-third while on probation and under supervision in the community. This bill would restore felons’ right to vote once they’re out of the correctional facility – but still serving their sentence. Such a change would be a slippery slope and could potentially lead to future laws allowing felons to vote while still incarcerated. Sentence lengths are in place for good reason – to punish offenders for their crimes – and it’s important that this applies to voting rights as well. I believe felons deserve a second chance, but must serve their full sentence – including probation – before having the right to vote returned to them.

In addition, the bill would add Minnesota to the National Popular Vote Compact, which would pledge a state’s electoral college votes to whichever presidential candidate wins the national popular vote. By pledging Minnesota’s electoral college votes to the national popular vote winner, the will of Minnesota voters would be completely disregarded. This compact requires several more states to approve it before it would take effect, but it’s a dangerous proposal that would make numerous states’ votes mean far less.

Finally, in the past, elections bills have always had authors from both parties and have received bipartisan support. This year’s elections bill, however, is an entirely Democrat bill and has not earned the vote of any Republican members. Policies surrounding elections and voting shouldn’t be subject to partisanship, and I believe any legislation pertaining to this issue should be agreed on and supported by both sides.

Ultimately, I believe this bill fails to promote the integrity and security of our elections. By weakening voting requirements, it also has the potential to lend itself to increased voter fraud and ineligible voters casting ballots. I’ll be sure to fill you in on its status moving forward.

Childcare Fraud

The nonpartisan Office of the Legislative Auditor (OLA) recently issued a report regarding the misuse of state dollars in Minnesota’s Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP). The report details widespread fraud in the program, and indicates that a lack of internal controls at the Department of Human Services has allowed this to go on and makes fraud prosecutions difficult.  

On Monday, I joined my Republican colleagues in the House as we unveiled a legislative package to address this fraud. Included in this proposal are measures to increase penalties and consequences for committing fraud; provide better controls to prevent fraud from occurring; give investigators additional tools to aid in their investigations; eliminate eligibility for those who have committed fraud; require enhanced eligibility checks; and improve oversight of the program.

While this proposal represents a strong step in our efforts to get this rampant fraud under control, I’m concerned the DFL House majority isn’t taking this problem seriously enough. I’m disappointed that, three months into the legislative session, they’ve held hearings on so few bills and still haven’t held a hearing on the report itself. This report made it clear that lawmakers must take immediate action. I’m hopeful Democrats will begin to take steps to correct this problem so we can ensure these resources are going to the program’s intended purpose of helping low-income families afford childcare.

At the Capitol

On Monday, I treated my House colleagues to cake for their support of funding to clean up the hazardous waste pit in Andover, which become affectionately known as “Peg’s Pit” around the Capitol.

I had the opportunity to read to kids during Early Childhood Education Advocacy Day at the Capitol. Research tells us that reading to kids at a young age is a big indicator of success down the road, and I had fun helping to promote that yesterday.

Please Contact Me

As always, please feel free to contact me with any questions or input by phone at 651-296-4231 or by email at rep.peggy.scott@house.mn.

Have a great weekend,

Peggy

 

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