ST. PAUL – State Rep. Shane Mekeland, R-Clear Lake, is requesting hearings to examine the recent turmoil at the Minnesota Department of Human Services when a mini legislative session takes place this fall.
House Speaker Melissa Hortman, D-Brooklyn Park, announced a mini special session will take place in Winona Oct. 2-4. Mekeland and all 54 of his fellow House Republicans co-authored a letter Tuesday asking Hortman to place DHS hearings on the agenda.
In part, the letter reads:
“To date, Minnesotans have received no clear explanation for the leadership shakeup at our state's largest agency. If indeed there are internal conflicts about the direction of DHS that caused Commissioner Lourey to resign after just six months, Minnesotans have a right to know and to be involved in the discussion about those disagreements and the direction of the agency. DHS is responsible for billions of dollars in state and federal spending; these decisions are not abstract –they impact the lives of more than a million Minnesotans.”
Mekeland and others have also have raised concerns over a lack of urgency and transparency with an investigation into DHS Inspector General Carolyn Ham’s role in allowing pervasive fraud to take place in the Child Care Assistance Program. Mekeland said constituents are demanding answers for what’s going on at DHS and he said hearings could help shed some light.
“Last Friday night at Gilman Days, I was asked about the DHS meltdown and fraud more than anything else,” Mekeland said. “The lack of leadership and lack of transparency from the governor’s administration on this subject is highly concerning to people in our area and they deserve some answers. While I hope more details are provided far sooner – like, ASAP – putting DHS hearings on the agenda for October would provide reassurance that we will ask hard questions and demand answers the next time the full Legislature is together. That’s the least we can do for Minnesotans and I hope the Speaker shows she agrees by honoring our request for hearings.”
Earlier this month, top Republicans on the various committees overseeing DHS wrote to DFL Chairs Tina Liebling, DFL-Rochester, Rena Moran, DFL-St. Paul, and Dave Pinto, DFL-St. Paul, calling for hearings. Those requests have thus far been ignored.
While hearings can take place during the special session scheduled for Winona, state statute bars official action on bills from taking place outside St. Paul.