It was another busy week at the capitol as committees continue to work hard at drafting omnibus bills as we begin our final month of the 2015 legislative session, although there is still much work to do be done on a number of issues.
This week’s update has information about a hearing set for next Wednesday regarding the walleye restrictions on Mille Lacs Lake, information on topics that the Office of the Legislative Auditor will be reviewing, and a brief summary of our Education Finance omnibus bill.
House Committee to Hold Hearing on Lake Mille Lacs Fishing Regulations
Next Wednesday, April 22, the House Mining and Outdoor Recreation Committee will hold an informational hearing on the DNR’s 2015 fishing regulations for Mille Lacs Lake.
The DNR, resort owners on Mille Lacs, and other stakeholders will testify on the agency’s decision to implement unprecedented fishing restrictions on the lake.
I am very concerned about the impact that these regulations will have on our local economy and am committed to working with the DNR in order to find a more workable solution.
The meeting will begin at 10:30 on Wednesday the 22nd in Room 5 of the State Office Building.
Legislative Audit Commission Approves Topics for Review
As chair of the Legislative Audit Commission, it is my job to work with the Office of the Legislative Auditor and my colleagues in the House to find programs, topics, or agencies to review. There are six topics that have been approved this year to be reviewed by the Legislative Auditor:
Deer Population Management- the Division of Fish and Wildlife in the DNR is responsible for managing Minnesota’s deer population. In recent years, hunters and other groups have raised concerns over the low number of deer harvested and the accuracy of DNR’s deer population estimates. The Legislative Auditor will examine the process and systems the DNR uses to manage the deer population in order to increase accuracy and efficiency.
Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB)- the IRRRB is a state agency that promotes business, community, and workplace development in northeastern Minnesota. An evaluation of IRRRB could provide useful information regarding investments the agency has made and its effectiveness in developing businesses and job opportunities in its services area.
Mental Health Services in County Jails- Approximately 50 percent of county jail inmates require some form of mental health care. An evaluation from the Legislative Auditor would compare county jail practices to best practices in mental health care identified by jail accreditation agencies. Also, evaluation of the adequacy of state resources that provide treatment options other than jail for persons with mental illness could be included in a report.
Minnesota Board of Teaching- the board is charged with establishing and maintaining licensure standards and requirements, and approving teacher-preparation institutions and programs. An audit would evaluate the board and its licensing activities to measure the effectiveness of the board’s activities.
Minnesota Department of Health HMO Complaint Process- audit would focus on the structure of the complaint system, comparing HMO complaint processes with those used for other types of complaints.
MnDOT Project Selection- audit would examine the process that MnDOT uses to select road and bridge projects.
Education Finance Committee Unveils Omnibus Bill
The Education Finance Committee revealed details of its omnibus bill this week. This bill is a student-focused plan to maintain Minnesota’s high standard of educational excellence. The bill spends $16.8 billion in 2016-17 and includes a number of policies that empower teachers and students, gives flexibility to school districts, prioritizes early learning and promotes more equitable funding for schools across the state.
A major component of the bill is a $179 statewide increase in biennial per pupil funding. This breaks down to about a $196 increase for students in Greater Minnesota.
The bill also invests in early learners with a $30 million increase for early learning scholarships and a $9.5 million increase for school readiness aid.
Furthermore, the bill continues our efforts to empower students, teachers, schools, and local communities by increasing local control. Some of the measures this bill takes to empower our local schools and communities include:
Allowing districts to tap community experts for vocational, technical and career education programs
Education is a top priority for all Minnesotans and our student-focused education bill will continue our strong tradition of outstanding schools and teachers here in Minnesota.
Staying in Touch
Please visit and “like” my Facebook page for updates on all the important legislation and events that are taking place at the Capitol.
As always, please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or comments about issues that are important to you. My door is always open. If you would like to schedule a time to meet, please contact my office at email@example.com or 651-296-6746.
Have a great weekend,