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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Lisa Demuth (R)

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This week's Capitol roundup

Friday, March 29, 2019

Enjoyed meeting with Jon McGee, VP of Planning at CSB/SJU, this week. He was named the next head of school at St John’s Prep beginning this July 1.

Dear Neighbor,

Thanks to all who attended the Highway 23 Coalition’s annual meeting last Friday at the 400 Club. It was good to see state and local officials, people from the local business community and others come together to talk about priorities for improving this roadway. It was a good discussion and we’re making progress!

I also enjoyed a recent in-district meeting with ROCORI Superintendent Brad Kelvington to talk about issues related to staffing, enrollment numbers, pre-Labor Day starts, snow days, budgeting and beyond. As a former school board member and mother, our children’s education is near and dear to me and I appreciate Mr. Kelvington taking the time to meet. I look forward to sitting down with other superintendents from our area in the near future.

On a related note, a large number of education finance bills have received committee hearings this week. I serve the Education Finance Committee and we have heard approximately 20 bills just this week. One of those bills (H.F. 566) requires school districts to establish school safety assessment teams to assess potential threatening situations or student behavior that may pose a risk.

While questions remain with this bill and amendments may be necessary, school safety is a top priority of mine and is something people in our area take especially seriously. I am hopeful we can continue working to smooth out this proposal and come up with a bill worthy of broad, bipartisan support. Look for more on this and other education bills as things develop. For now, here is more from this week in the House:

Cracking down on fraud

A comprehensive proposal to crack down on fraud in Minnesota’s public programs was introduced in the House this week, including legislation I have authored.

The legislative package is in response to a report from the nonpartisan Office of the Legislative Auditor that found fraud within Minnesota’s Child Care Assistance Program to be widespread and pervasive. My bill (H.F. 1680) requires child care providers receiving CCAP payments to keep daily attendance records on site and make them immediately available upon request.

The House proposal has five key goals:

  1. Increased consequences for committing fraud: Increased penalties and consequences for committing fraud to send a strong message to fraudsters that the state will not tolerate this criminal behavior.
  2. Provider controls: Provide better controls on the front end to prevent fraud from occurring in the first place.
  3. Investigations and prosecutions: Give additional tools to investigators to aid in their investigations, and to prosecutors to ensure fraudsters are brought to justice.
  4. Eligibility reforms: Eliminate eligibility for those found to have committed fraud, require enhanced eligibility checks from the Department of Human Services, and direct savings from eligibility checks to the Health Care Access Fund.
  5. Oversight: Make the Office of Inspector General become an independent entity as recommended by the legislative auditor.

This package will help stop the fraud, save the money and make sure our tax dollars are used as intended. As I continue to say, this is not a partisan issue, this is a good-government issue.

Replenishing disaster account

The House on Thursday provided final approval of a bill which directs $10 million to the state’s currently empty Disaster Contingency Account.

The state responded with over $11 million in relief to flooding events in Brainerd and Duluth last year, draining the contingency account. It is important to replenish those funds as communities around the state face flooding this spring and with storm season approaching.

We are fortunate that it appears our state will dodge the widespread flooding previously projected for this spring, but significant damage still could occur in some places. I am pleased the Legislature has approved this funding to replenish our contingency account so we are ready to deliver immediate aid, whether it is needed this spring or when the next disaster inevitably occurs. The point of this account is to help us be prepared for whatever disaster may strike.

Keeping local bills in the mix

On a final l note, bills I have authored for the completion of the final phase of the ROCORI Trail (to connect the cities of Cold Spring and Rockville) and to construct a park on the Sauk River in St. Joseph received positive Capital Investment Committee hearings and remain in the mix. Stay tuned.


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