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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Steve Elkins (DFL)

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Summer Update- June 21, 2019

Friday, June 21, 2019
Dear Neighbors,
Happy first day of summer! I hope you’ve been able to enjoy our sunny days.
Although session concluded last month, I’ve been compiling your ideas and input to start my legislative projects for the interim. Since the session ended, I’ve been working with colleagues in both the legislature and state agencies to research and develop future reform legislation on topics such as data privacy, the use of electronic medical records, information technology management and the “Fiscal Note” process used to estimate the cost of proposed legislation.

MNLARS Replacement System 

Earlier this year, Governor Walz issued an executive order establishing a Blue Ribbon Council on Information Technology made up of public and private sector IT experts to advise the Governor, Lt. Governor, Minnesota IT Services (MN.IT), and the Legislature on issues related to cybersecurity, data privacy, and modernization projects such as MNLARS.  On May 1, the panel released a report on their findings and recommendations from the MNLARS review. They ultimately recommended that the state replace MNLARS with a packaged software solution. (There were no such software packages on the market at the time the MNLARS project was initiated.) Effective next month, MNLARS will no longer receive any new programming. Minimal maintenance will remain in place to address bugs and ensure continued operation until the replacement system is up and running. I support this recommendation, even though the cost of the packaged solution will be about the same as the cost of bringing MNLARS up to where it needs to be, because Minnesota will become one of about a dozen states sharing ideas (and costs) for the continued enhancement of the new packaged solution.
As an information technology professional and member of the House Transportation Committee, I’ve read all of the Legislative Auditor’s MNLARS reports and have been working with the Department of Public Safety and MN IT on ways to streamline our vehicle registration laws so that they can be implemented accurately in the new system. Ambiguities and conflicts in our current statutes have been a contributing factor in the MNLARS debacle. Since the session ended, I have been working with the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Panel on its efforts to reform the State’s IT practices and procedures and I will also be supporting the efforts of the new Vehicle Registration task force that is being formed to make sure that the new system is implemented smoothly.
I should note that, I’ve not seen anything in my examination of the MNLARS project’s failures that I have not also seen numerous times (at multiple companies) during my 25 year private sector IT career. The important thing is to learn from the mistakes that were made on this project so that they’re not repeated on other State IT projects.

New Laws Begin in July 

With July right around the corner, I thought you might be interested in previewing which new laws will take effect on the first of the month. You can find the press release from our nonpartisan House Public Information office here
I was pleased to join Senators Draheim and Jensen, as well as my House collaborator, Representative Kristin Bahner, at a bill signing ceremony for our bipartisan legislation that was signed by the Governor. This new law will require outpatient clinics to disclose any fees related to the use of the clinic’s facilities to the patient before any procedures are performed there. Patients have been surprised to find these hidden fees on their bills after the fact and, they’re not always covered by insurance. Minnesotans deserve pricing transparency and I’ll continue to work on this issue in the arena of health care.  

Keep in Touch

There’s more work we can accomplish, together, to keep moving our community and state forward. Please never hesitate to reach out with questions, ideas, or feedback as I continue my interim projects. I value your input!
Steve Elkins
State Representative
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