On Wednesday, the non-partisan Legislative Auditor released their long-awaited report on allegations of widespread fraud in the Minnesota Childcare Assistance Program (CCAP). While the report was unable to substantiate explosive claims that over $100 million in fraud was taking place, the report did reveal widespread agreement at the Department of Human Services (DHS) that there is a substantial amount of fraud in the CCAP program.
Fraud and waste in our public programs is unacceptable, and it's clear that DHS has not done enough to stop fraudulent activity from happening.
I am extremely disappointed in these findings and it’s clear that we need to take action this session to improve program integrity and put systems in place to catch and eliminate fraud. House Republicans have several proposals that would improve program integrity and I am hopeful that the DFL majority will take this problem seriously and give these bills hearings so we can make sure they become law.
You can read the audit report here.
Legalized Marijuana Done for Session?
On Monday, the Senate Judiciary Committee heard legislation that would legalize recreational marijuana. After a lengthy hearing that included a number of testifiers both for and against the bill, the Senate committee voted down the bill. Monday’s action effectively kills the bill for the rest of this year’s session.
While it remains to be seen if similar bills gain traction in the House, it is now clear that the Senate will not be pursuing this issue anymore this year.
I am pleased by this news as I am not supportive of legalizing marijuana and believe that there are much more pressing issues we should be spending our time and energy on.
Experts are predicting major flooding throughout the state this spring thanks to record setting snowfall. Despite these predictions, the state’s Disaster Assistance Contingency Account—created to allocate funds to communities impacted by natural disasters—sits empty.
To fix this problem, I am co-authoring legislation to replenish this needed funding so impacted cities will be able to immediately begin recovery efforts in the event of a flood.
We cannot wait and let this funding get wrapped up in end-of-session negotiations. Instead, we should get this taken care of now and make sure communities have the peace of mind knowing that the state is ready to provide financial assistance in the event of a flood.
The legislation would transfer $20 million in Fiscal Year 2019 and another $20 million in Fiscal Year 2020 to Minnesota’s disaster assistance contingency account. Stay tuned on this.
New Green Deal Comes to Minnesota
Legislation requiring all electric utilities operating in the state use only carbon-free energy sources by 2050 received its first hearing this week in the House Energy and Climate Finance and Policy Division.
While it would be wise for the state to do what it can to work towards a 100% renewable energy standard, the reality is that such a plan would greatly impact energy’s affordability and reliability.
Put more simply, this energy proposal would cause Minnesotans' energy bills to skyrocket, force the closure of reliable and cost-effective power plants, and put Minnesota all-in on technology that simply cannot provide the reliable power you need to keep the lights on and heat your home in the winter.
The recent cold-snap showed how important it is to have an energy grid that is reliable and won't falter even during the worst polar vortexes—betting on unproven technology will be expensive and risky for all of us.
Staying in Touch
That’s all for this week’s update. I will have more for you as the session progresses as it’s sure to be a busy year. In the meantime, I urge you to contact me if you have any legislative questions, concerns, or ideas. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-5356 or via email at email@example.com.
Have a good weekend,