The House and Senate have now passed their budget bills and the next step is to take them to conference committee to negotiate the differences. And, there are a lot of differences. House Democrats have proposed raising $12 billion in taxes over the next four years, which includes a 70%, 20-cent-per-gallon gas tax and reinstating the sick tax, which makes getting sick a taxable event.
I hope the bills that passed the House come back from negotiations with the Senate in a much better form. There should be plenty of room for compromise. Below are a few other bills that have passed over the last month. Have a great weekend!
Closing Light Rail Loophole
The House approved legislation that addresses a loophole in state law that exempts light rail train operators from the reckless driving statute. The bill was in response to a tragic accident that took place a few years ago when a car was struck by a light rail train that had run a red light. The County Attorney believed that the train operator was at fault for the accident, however, they could not be prosecuted due to this loophole in state law.
The legislation that was passed adds light rail train operators to the reckless and careless driving law provisions that apply to motor vehicle drivers. If future tragedies occur involving light rail trains, operators will now be able to be held criminally liable if found guilty.
While I am glad this bill passed with overwhelming support, I do wish the DFL majority would have joined my colleagues and me in passing a more comprehensive amendment that would have made light rail transit operators comply with other motor vehicle traffic laws and penalties. Unfortunately, I do think we may be back in a similar position in the future, following another incident.
Childcare Fraud Report
The nonpartisan legislative auditor released another report looking into fraud, waste, and abuse in the state’s Childcare Assistance Program (CCAP). Last week’s report focused primarily on evaluating internal controls within the program. The report detailed numerous issues at the Department of Human Services (DHS) and the county level that has resulted in inadequate program integrity. The major finding of the report is that program integrity controls at DHS “are insufficient to effectively prevent, detect, and investigate fraud in Minnesota’s Childcare Assistance Program.”
The report also included findings such as:
- "DHS and county agencies did not sufficiently leverage independent, external data sources to verify recipient eligibility for CCAP."
- "DHS had weak processes to validate that CCAP provider billings aligned with actual child care provided."
- The payment system for CCAP, "lacked key controls to identify errors and to inhibit, track, and recover improper payments."
We are committed to continuing to work on this issue to ensure we restore integrity to our public programs. These programs are designed to help the truly needy and the programs are abused and funds misused, it is the truly needy who will not have these programs available to them. We can and must do better.
Photos at the Capitol
Rep. Neu with members from the Minnesota Nurses Association
Rep. Neu with the Chisago County Rural Broadband Coalition.
Rep. Neu with constituents at the Capitol for Water Action Day.
Please Contact Me
As the session continues, please feel free to contact me with any questions or thoughts that you have on any matter of state government. Your input helps me to best represent our community, and I appreciate you taking the time to reach out. You can reach me by phone at 651-296-5377 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. My office is located on the second floor of the State Office Building in room 261.
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