Skip to main content Skip to office menu Skip to footer
Capital IconMinnesota Legislature

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

Back to profile

Legislative update

Friday, March 15, 2019

Dear Neighbor,

Greetings from the Capitol, where this week in a committee meeting we discussed House Democrats’ version of Gov. Walz's 100% Clean Energy Bill, otherwise known as the Extreme Energy Guide for Twin Cities Environmentalists.

The bill (H.F. 1956) mandates that 100 percent of the state's electricity be produced from “clean” energy sources by 2050 … specifically excluding nuclear power from the mix. The bill would mean huge increases in our electrical costs for Minnesotans (who already pay more than the national average) and cause huge reliability concerns, particularly during cold spells such as the one we recently suffered.

Beyond those concerns, this proposal is so overboard it would actually create programs for “fuel shifting,” in other words spending tax dollars to move customers to electricity or natural gas from other fuel sources.

In other news, this week the Office of the Legislative Auditor issued a report following an investigation into suspected fraud in the state’s Child Care Assistance Program. While the exact degree to which fraud is taking place remains in question, the bottom line is there is widespread agreement that a substantial amount of fraud is taking place in the CCAP program.

Fraud, waste and abuse of our tax dollars is unacceptable, especially when it involves state programs such as this. It is quite clear that the Minnesota Department of Human Services has failed miserably in its oversight of this program. That being the case, the Legislature needs to act this session to improve program integrity by putting systems in place to catch and eliminate fraud. A number of bills have been introduced by House Republicans to address these issues and I look forward to seeing these proposals move through the process.

Work on the House floor this week included approval of a bill designating the first Saturday of October as Veterans Suicide Awareness Day. I am proud to support this bill to help bring attention to this issue which seems to be overlooked and, more importantly, help veterans get the help they need.

On a somewhat related note, last week the House approved a bill providing $100,000 in additional funding to support mental health initiatives for farmers. This bump is designed to strengthen resources for the next few months before a new state budget kicks in July 1. The House put this bill on a fast track because of an increase in suicide among farmers. In fact, recent reports say suicide rates for farmers are five times higher than the national average and even double that of military veterans.

That is some astonishing information and I am pleased mental health counseling resources for farmers and rural business operators is a priority for both major House caucuses this year. While mental-health resources are helpful, our focus should be on looking at the causes of stress themselves so we can make changes at that level before they multiply and become a problem. Farming is a tough business and always will be, but the state could help by being less of a burden.

Look for more news as these and other issues develop. The bill I author to fund infrastructure improvements to the Becker business park received a positive hearing from the Capital Investment Committee this week and it remains in the mix for passage this session. I will keep you posted.



Recent News for Rep. Shane Mekeland