Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Happy Halloween! It’s been a busy month of October as I’ve traveled all over the state on a handful of legislative tours including a “mini-session” in Winona and two bonding tours. Here’s a brief recap.
House Mini Session
Earlier this month, the House of Representatives headed to southeast Minnesota for a series of committee meetings, tours, and listening sessions as part of a 2019 “mini –session”. Hearings were held across the southeast corner of our state, including Austin, Rochester, Rushford, and Winona.
The "mini-session" provided legislators with the opportunity to hear about the challenges facing rural communities as well as innovations within the education, research, energy and business sectors. We witnessed first-hand how these Southeast Minnesota communities are being impacted by taxes, regulations, and mandates, as well as trade, immigration and natural disasters.
Bonding Tours Continue
As a member of the House Capital Investment Committee, I have the opportunity to join my colleagues on a handful of tours to learn about important public infrastructure projects across Minnesota. If you recall, I recapped the committee’s visit to Itasca County in my last email update.
During the month of October, the committee spent time in Southwest and Southeast Minnesota. Some of the stops on the southwest tour included Willmar, Marshall, Windom, Comfrey, and Fairmont.
A few weeks after the Southwest Minnesota tour, the committee headed to the southeast corner of the state. Stops on this leg of the tour included Faribault, Rochester, Red Wing, Lake City, Oronoco, and others.
Visiting projects in person helps give members a true sense of the significance each project represents in their community. The coming legislative session is set to be a “bonding” year and I plan to advocate for a bill that maintains the state’s current infrastructure and addresses projects that have urgent needs.
Problems at Department of Human Services
You may have heard on Tuesday this week that the non-partisan Legislative Auditor (OLA) released a special review of the $29 million in improper payments made by the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) to two tribal governments for addiction services.
The audit found that DHS repeatedly approved a billing practice that effectively resulted in double-billing to the federal government—once for an in-person visit, and multiple additional reimbursements when patients self-administer medication at home.
In the special review, the OLA blamed "troubling dysfunction" at DHS, noting the agency "did not have legal authority to make the payments”. The overpayments continued over several years and did not stop until an outside inquiry brought them to light.
I think Minnesotans will agree that DHS should repay the $29 million owed to the federal government from within their own $18 billion budget and not turn to taxpayers to cover this mismanagement of funds.
It is clear that a serious culture change and accountability measures are needed at DHS. The legislature will utilize the Legislative Auditor’s report to demand and monitor corrective measures at DHS.
Enbridge is celebrating its 70th year of doing business in Minnesota. This past week, I participated in a gathering in Bemidji where officials from Enbridge provided updates on progress being made to upgrade Line 3.
It has been almost 7 years since design work first began on this much needed upgrade and, in that time, Enbridge has made significant modifications to the route in response to input received from Minnesotans, especially the Native American Tribal communities. Four thousand construction jobs will be created by this $2.6 billion project with 75% of the workers coming from our local communities. Let’s get this done for Minnesota!
Essentia health groundbreaking
There has been good news on the economic development front in Pine River lately and a highlight is the announcement of the upcoming expansion by Essentia Health into the community with a new 17,000 square foot clinic, the addition of several new jobs and the introduction of a number of new specialty services including podiatry, cardiology and obstetrics/gynecology.
This past week I was happy to share in the excitement during the exciting groundbreaking ceremony at the site of the new clinic.
Daylight Savings Time Ends on Sunday
Remember to turn your clocks back one hour this Sunday as Daylight Savings Time comes to an end. If you, like me, are annoyed by the changing of clocks twice each year, see the link below for information on a bill I helped introduce last session that would request permission from Congress to stay on Daylight Savings Time. This is of interest to several states and also taking hold in Europe.
If you would like to see this bill passed, please contact Speaker of the House Melissa Hortman at email@example.com and Majority Leader Ryan Winkler at firstname.lastname@example.org and respectfully ask that they bring HF 1397 to the floor for a vote during the 2020 session.
Stay in Touch
As always, please contact me if you have any questions or concerns. I value your input and enjoy hearing from you.