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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Shane Mekeland (R)

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This week's news from the House

Friday, February 1, 2019

Thank you to the group of area people pictured above who stopped by my office this week to advocate for health freedom and parental rights.

Dear Neighbor,

Here’s a quick look at just some of what took place at the Capitol this week:

Protecting the unborn

House and Senate Republicans hosted a joint press conference this week to express our opposition to a bill New York recently passed allowing abortion up to the moment of birth with virtually no restrictions. Virginia is considering following suit.

As a strong pro-life supporter, I cannot put into words how it disappoints me that states are now sanctioning the killing of a newborn baby after birth. This is beyond unfathomable to me and I will oppose any and all proposals in Minnesota to follow what I hope does not become a trend in states allowing infants to be murdered. Lord, have mercy.

Paid Family and Medical Leave

A committee I am on heard a bill this week that would establish a new state insurance program for Paid Family and Medical Leave. This looks to be a cross between the Affordable Care Act and Social Security, brought to you by the state that created miserable failures such as MNLARS and MnSure. The last thing Minnesota needs to do is get its hands on another computer and try to create a new expansive, costly state program/website.

The PFML program that is being proposed would result in taxes being raised on every working Minnesotan and their employer in order to benefit a tiny 1.6 percent of the workforce – or around 1 percent of the population. Even businesses that already provide great benefits and the workers who receive them would be paying more. But we don’t even know how much it would cost workers and businesses to provide for that 1 percent because the bill does not specify an amount.

What we do know is the bill likely would require hundreds of millions of dollars in startup costs before even a single person could benefit. And, given the track record with MNLARS and MnSure, who knows when that would ever happen. The bill is so loosely written that it has holes for fraud and abuse a mile wide.

Creating such a PFML system from the ground up hasn’t yet been completed in any other state. Now, I know we consider ourselves leaders here in Minnesota, but maybe there are good reasons other states haven’t done this. Just something to think about.

Instead of creating a massive new layer of costly state bureaucracy in place, let’s get the focus back on getting out of the way so the free market can breathe as businesses and workers make decisions for themselves.

Childcare fraud update

Legislators have now filed a fifth data practices requests with the Department of Human Resources in an attempt to learn more about allegations of upwards of $100 million of Childcare Assistance Program funds being allocated to fraudulent childcare facilities, possibly even going overseas to terrorist groups.

The first four data requests were during the last several months of the Dayton administration. All four were ignored. The hope is the fifth time will be the charm with a new governor and administration in office. Another request was filed this week, calling on the agency to release internal communications and a private investigative firm's report – prepared at taxpayer expense – that could provide details of the suspected CCAP fraud.

To have taxpayers defrauded to the tune of $100 million is bad enough. The possibility any of those dollars are being funneled to terrorists should set off alarms. Dayton’s negligence on this issue is inexcusable and I hope the new administration is more cooperative.

Regardless of how the data request turns out, the nonpartisan Office of the Legislative Auditor has been doing a deep dive into this issue and the results of its investigation should be released in the coming month.

Stay tuned for more on this issue and others soon.



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