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

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Notes from the House

Friday, July 12, 2019

Dear Neighbor,

Hope all is well and just want to pass along a few quick jottings as we head into the weekend. While the Legislature may not officially be in session, there really is no “down time” because the issues never take a break. I’ve been working on a number of subjects lately, from examining serious problems regarding the permitting process for builders and developers to working out issues related to a backlog and labor shortage for utility locators that is causing public safety threats.

Also, this week I went with constituents to a meeting (above) to hear DNR representatives talk about the agency’s Little Rock Creek Area action plan. There were a lot of good questions on numerous sides of the studies being done. One of the questions was, “How much as the DNR spent on the program?” They didn’t know. Otherwise, it was a very informative meeting on many levels. Look for more on those issues as things develop but, for now, here are some other topics of interest:

Super Waste at the Super Bowl

Reports this week show the state may have “bent the rules” for the Snowbate film program to help pay for Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show to come to Minnesota during the Super Bowl. By doing so, $266,834 of Minnesota taxpayer money was given to NBC Universal to bring Fallon here, even though the network and the program already was coming with or without state help.

What, did our state fear Fallon would do his Super Bowl show somewhere other than the place the Super Bowl was played? State officials actually changed the categorization of the Tonight Show to help skirt the plain language in state statute in order to cut the nearly $270,000 check.

So, liberals spent all session looking to raise our taxes, yet freely send hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to NBC for no good reason. Meanwhile, those same liberals are now busy holding meetings in St. Paul to discuss improving transparency in government.

Transparency is good, but you don’t need to sit around a table to use common sense … such as not going out of your way to dodge the rules in order to mail hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to TV networks that already plan to be here. The kicker is this news comes only weeks after we learned a liberal celebrity chef was being paid by the state tourism board to Tweet.

13th annual Veterans Career Fair

Military veterans (including active members) and their spouses are invited to attend a career fair to meet with prospective employers that have been encouraged to offer veterans full-time jobs with benefits and family-sustaining wages. The event will be 2 to 6 p.m. July 24 at the Earle Brown Heritage Center (6155 Earle Brown Drive, Brooklyn Center MN). Over 100 employers reportedly will be on hand, as well as providers who offer services for veterans. Registration is encouraged, but not required. Click here for more on that and a full list of attending employers and job descriptions available is at this link. Call (651-259-7169) for more information or to discuss accommodations needed to attend the career fair. If you call that number, please do so at least five days prior to the event.

More DHS news

The Department of Human Services has been the subject of increased scrutiny in recent months after a state investigation confirmed widespread fraud, waste and abuse is taking place within the agency – particularly in regard to child care fraud. This week, it was reported that Inspector General Carolyn Ham (the state’s top investigator of child care fraud) has been paid $42,000 since being placed on leave by DHS four months ago. Instead of being relieved of her duties, she has been at home collecting her taxpayer-funded salary while the investigation continues with no further information revealed to the public.

While this subject remains a source of concern, another firestorm broke out at DHS earlier this week when two top DHS officials suddenly resigned, including one who had been with the agency for 30 years. These are the second and third high-profile departures in a month from DHS after another 13-year worker had his position eliminated. Stay tuned for more because something doesn’t smell right about these developments.

Scholarships available for high-demand careers

College-bound students across Minnesota are encouraged to apply for workforce development scholarships worth $2,500 or more for high-demand occupations in the state. The scholarships are for students pursuing careers within advanced manufacturing, agriculture, health care services, information technology, early childhood education and transportation at any of the 30 colleges in the Minnesota State system. Students who were awarded a scholarship for the fall 2018 semester are eligible to apply again if they have completed two academic terms with a minimum of nine credits each and have maintained a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher. Financial aid office at Minnesota State colleges can provide more details regarding these or other scholarship and financial aid opportunities. Additional information is available here.

Until next time, have a good weekend and be safe.



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