Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Sadly, I have more outrageous news to report from Minnesota’s Department of Human Services, continuing the weeks of chaos within the agency.
DHS OVERPAYS $25 MILLION
A Thursday article in the St. Paul Pioneer Press found that DHS overpaid the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and the White Earth Nation by $25.3 million for medication-assisted therapy treatments covered under Medicaid. The article notes overpayments had occurred over the past five years and the payment structure was changed in May. To read the story, click here.
It’s just the latest turmoil from the state’s largest agency.
You’ll recall the unexpected resignations of Deputy Commissioners and longtime department employees Chuck Johnson and Claire Wilson two weeks ago, followed by the resignation of DHS Commissioner Tony Lourey days later, followed by the “rescinded" resignations from Johnson and Wilson.
Then there’s the investigation into a complaint against Inspector General Carolyn Ham that had not begun, despite the fact that she has been on leave for four months and has collected roughly $42,000 in salary.
This week, we also learned about people who used money for adult day care programs for their personal expenses and then falsified financial records. We’re now requesting info from DHS to learn how much state money was involved. To read more about the indictment, click here.
I have joined my Republican colleagues in repeatedly calling for House hearings into this DHS debacle. Just this week I signed onto a letter with 54 other lawmakers asking Speaker Hortman to hold a DHS hearing at an upcoming “mini-session” in Winona in October. As of this writing, I’ve not heard a response.
The Minnesota Senate is holding a hearing on the matter on August 13 and I do plan to attend to learn more.
In the meantime I am also taking action. I am signing on to legislation that limits paid leave to 60 days for state employees that are under investigation. Under that proposal, after 60 days the person must either be terminated, returned to work, or placed on an unpaid leave of absence.
I’ve also begun to work on language for a bill that would strengthen Minnesota’s whistleblower laws so government employees will have protection when they report suspected fraud and the misuse of your tax dollars.
HANDS FREE CELL PHONE USE NOW STATE LAW
It’s time to put down your cell phones in your vehicle, as the hands free law has now taken effect. This means you can be pulled over by police if they see you using your cell phone while driving. For more information on what you can and cannot do under this law, visit the Department of Public Safety’s Hands Free website by clicking here.
RED WING SHINES IN STATEWIDE SPOTLIGHT
Recently, Twin Cities Business Magazine penned a story called “The Turning Tides of Red Wing.” It highlighted the economy of the area, including references to the Red Wing Port Authority, our shipping industry, and manufacturers like Red Wing Shoe. It also noted the City’s work to foster the new digital economy and entrepreneurship through Red Wing Ignite.
These are all areas I’ve supported during my legislative tenure by carrying the Port Authority funding bill, authoring angel investment tax credit legislation, supporting manufacturing sector job growth through my involvement in the Red Wing Area Manufacturers Association, and passing bills to encourage youth internships through youth skills training.
If you’d like to read the story, click here.
Also, I am always interested in touring local manufacturing sites and area businesses and visiting with employers to learn about the successes and challenges they face. Please contact my office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-296-8635 to schedule a visit.
Make plans to attend the Goodhue County Fair next week, beginning August 6! Details can be found here.
STAYING IN TOUCH
As always, if you have questions or concerns regarding any issue, please contact me. You can reach me at email@example.com or 651-296-8635.