Friends and Neighbors,
I hope you all enjoyed time celebrating Christmas and the New Year! It’s hard to believe session is already approaching, but I am looking forward to all we will accomplish.
Despite the busyness of the holiday season, we are still staying busy at the Capitol. One of the issue areas we have been working on over the course of interim, is reestablishing accountability and responsibility within the Department of Human Services (DHS). In December, the Health and Human Services Committee held a hearing with Commissioner Harpstead for her 90-day review. Her appraisal of the situation within her department was not encouraging. She does not seem to grasp the impact that the agency’s dysfunction has on Minnesota and taxpayers. For example, amidst several other scandals from DHS, we recently found out that an assistant commissioner approved $1 million in payments to a non-profit while a member of their board. This is a serious conflict of interest and simply reinforces that we need better checks and balances. Commissioner Harpstead has a significant challenge before her, and we can hope she will take the committee’s inquiries to heart and focus on reform.
In the meantime, Governor Walz does seem to understand that waiting for DHS to fix itself is not a solution. He is finally listening to others and looking into hiring an outside agency to evaluate the structure of the department. I hope this means he recognizes the importance of all of us working together. We will keep the pressure on Governor Walz and his administration because Minnesotan’s deserve better care.
The work done this interim has prepared us to hit the ground running to tackle government reform when session starts. We will continue improving accountability from bloated agencies like DHS. We can’t afford to keep waiting.
Next session, I plan to remain focused on advocating for our farmers, education, veterans, and important local initiatives. We negotiated a responsible budget last year that is being put to good use. I always appreciate hearing from you, but with session approaching, it would be especially helpful if you would share your ideas and concerns. It is always my goal to represent our community at the Capitol, and your input is vital. You know what is best for our district, and I believe working with you is the best way to ensure our farmers, schools, and local businesses thrive. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-296-5612.