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Human services bill

Published (2/22/2008)
By Patty Ostberg
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The Minnesota Department of Human Services presented a $99.9 million bonding request to the House Health Care and Human Services Finance Division Feb. 14. Rep. Thomas Huntley (DFL-Duluth), the division chairman, said the proposal could be included in the division’s bonding request.

A large portion of the money would be used to finish an expansion at the Moose Lake Sex Offender Treatment Facility. HF2815, sponsored by Rep. Bill Hilty (DFL-Finlayson), would authorize $90 million to finish a project that will expand bed capacity from 150 to 800.

A Senate companion, SF2679, sponsored by Sen. Tony Lourey (DFL-Kerrick), awaits action in the Senate Finance Committee.

The request is not included in the governor’s recommendations.

The remainder of the request would be used for asset preservation, safety and security upgrades to current facilities, and to repair or demolish buildings at the Brainerd Regional Human Services Center. Those portions are included in the governor’s recommendations.

The $90 million Moose Lake request would begin phase two and “ensure that adequate bed capacity is maintained to facilitate the level of court ordered commitments that the department projects will continue until longer sentencing guidelines for sex offenses mandated by the 2005 Legislature actually begin to impact the annual number of referrals to the Minnesota Sex Offender Program,” according to the department.

The Legislature first appropriated funds for 100 beds at the Moose Lake facility in 1994. In 1998 money was appropriated for an additional 50 beds. In 2006, $44.6 million was appropriated for the first phase of the expansion.

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