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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Mary Franson (R)

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Legislative Update from Rep. Mary Franson

Friday, March 17, 2023

Dear Friends,

Yesterday I presented a bill in the Pensions Committee that was brought to be by a constituent. HF 217 will support our volunteer firefighters. I truly represent the best, and it is wonderful when my conversations with constituents translate to new legislation in St. Paul!

Calls to Remove Portrait of Lincoln from the House Chamber

This week, calls were once again made to remove the beautiful portrait of President Abraham Lincoln that proudly hangs above the Speaker’s rostrum in the House Chamber.

Lincoln was one of the greatest presidents in our nation’s history. He ended slavery and kept our precious union together when we were bitterly divided. It is shocking that people continue to call for his portrait to be removed from the House Chamber. During a time when Americans seem more divided than ever, all representatives should try emulating President Lincoln’s devotion in bringing people together to form a more perfect union.

More Feeding Our Future Indictments

Ten more people were charged this week related to the Feeding Our Future scandal. According to the Star Tribune, $66.6 million in property has been seized, including an airplane purchased by one of those charged. It is thought upwards of $250 million has been laundered as a part of Feeding Our Future, and the U.S. Attorney, Andrew Luger, says more indictments are to be expected.

Even though we are halfway through session, Democrats have still not passed any legislation that would close the gaps at the Departments of Education or Human Services to prevent future fraud from occurring. The Democrat majority has failed to provide any accountability for taxpayer funding. It is the duty of government to be a good steward of Minnesotans’ tax dollars, but our Democrat-controlled state is seemingly failing at every turn.

SWLRT Audit Report

On Wednesday, the Legislative Auditor released their newest report: "Southwest Light Rail Transit Construction: Metropolitan Council Decision Making." The Legislative Auditor found that the Southwest Light Rail Project (SWLRT) project has been grossly mismanaged and that the Metropolitan Council is not being an effective steward of public funds. They also reported the Met Council was not fully cooperative with the Audit process and was not forthcoming with either the legislature or the public. Some key findings from the report include:

  • “The Metropolitan Council obligated itself to spend more money on Southwest LRT than the funds committed to the project.”
  • “The Council did not hold its civil construction contractor accountable for failures to provide an acceptable project schedule.”
  • “The Council has also not been fully transparent about the project’s delays and cost increases.”

The Auditor’s report reveals the Metropolitan Council has misled the public and the legislature from nearly the beginning. They knew that it would have substantial cost overruns, ignored warnings, and went ahead with the project anyway. The Legislative Auditor recommends that the Legislature “create a framework in which the government entity responsible for light rail transition construction also bears some financial responsibility for construction costs and any potential cost increases.”

Once again, government is failing to be a good steward of your tax dollars. The Southwest Light Rail Transit project should be halted because the Met Council cannot continue to mismanage any more funding until accountability measures are in place.

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