Here’s the latest news from St. Paul.
Walz budget revisions
On Friday, Governor Walz released his revised budget recommendations with even higher tax increases. He kept the most painful tax increases in his budget proposal – his 70% gas tax increase, and his $1 billion health care tax increase. I oppose these regressive and unnecessary tax increases, especially now when we have a budget surplus.
HF 1589 in Public Safety
I presented my bill, HF 1589, in the Public Safety committee on Thursday. HF 1589 is a bill that requires ignition interlock installation after a second DWI in 10 years or third in their lifetime for a minimum of one year, or two years if the person refuses a blood alcohol test or has a blood alcohol concentration of at least twice the legal limit. My bill is an important step in eliminating drunk driving and I hope to see it continue to move through the committee process.
Since the release of the nonpartisan Office of the Legislative Auditor’s report on Childcare Assistance Program (CCAP) fraud, the Inspector General, Carolyn Ham, was placed on leave while the Department of Human Services investigates a complaint against her. The OLA report found a significant rift between the Inspector General and the investigators working on the CCAP fraud report. Here is a link to testimony in the Senate Subcommittee on Childcare Access and Affordability regarding CCAP fraud.
GOP CCAP Reforms
Today, House Republicans introduced a bill containing over 50 individual provisions aimed at cracking down on CCAP fraud, including the OLA’s recommendation to increase oversight by making the Office of the Inspector General a standalone agency rather than being housed within the entity it is tasked with investigating. It also makes bribing and coercion felonies, so anyone caught giving or accepting a bribe or attempting to use coercion to defraud public programs would be subject to an additional penalty. The proposed penalties for bribery and coercion are 10 years in prison or a fine of up to $20,000 or both. In addition to those provisions, it requires data sharing between the Department of Human Services and the Department of Education so that a person found to be committing fraud in one public program would be prohibited for life from using any other public program. We must crack down on fraud in our public programs and ensure that those committing fraud are brought to justice.
As always, if you need assistance on an issue pertaining to state government or have concerns or ideas about legislation, my office is available to you. You can e-mail at Rep.Marion.ONeill@House.MN or call my office at 651-296-5063. You can also write a letter to me. My office address at the Capitol is 357 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, St. Paul, MN 55155.