Spring is here, water everywhere!
On that topic, Minnesota created a disaster relief account in 2014 which allows for rapid delivery of relief funding to local units of governments in the event of a major disaster. Former Gov. Dayton used those funds during his tenure to quickly respond to major flood and storm damage, including serious flooding and storm damage incidents we have had here in both Crow Wing and Aitkin counties over the past few years.
Prior to creation of that account, the governor had to call a special legislative session to deliver the funding if we were not already in session. Even if we were in session, the state legislature had to pass a special appropriation to respond to a disaster.
The new approach is more efficient as long as the disaster relief account has funds in it. I am co-authoring a bill to transfer $20 million in 2019 and another $20 million in 2020 to that contingency account. That will restore the account to the level it was maintained at in recent years. With the heavy snow pack, we could easily be facing major flooding, particularly if we experience a couple of heavy rains.
On Tuesday, the DNR announced the walleye regulations for the open water season on Lake Mille Lacs. From the fishing opener through May 31, anglers can keep one walleye between 21 and 23 inches or one walleye over 28 inches. After May 31, the regulation transitions to catch and release only.
This is a good step forward and an indication the walleye fishery is responding in a positive manner to the very conservative regulations that have been in place for several years.
On Thursday, I supported passage of bipartisan legislation that treats vaping devices in the same manner as cigarettes. The bill would prohibit using e-cigarettes on public transportation, at public meetings, in places of employment, health care facilities and clinics, public schools, and state and local government buildings.
This week we received a report from the Office of the Legislative Auditor on alleged fraud involving the Minnesota Child Care Assistance Program. The report confirmed the presence of fraud and indicated there are less than adequate internal controls at the Department of Human Services that make fraud prosecutions difficult. We await a second report due next month with detailed recommendations for corrective action.
We will continue to work closely with state agency leadership to root out fraud at every level.