Minnesota House Republicans are calling on their Democratic colleagues to hold hearings on the ongoing turmoil at the Department of Human Services during an upcoming legislative “mini-session.”
House Speaker Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park) recently announced in an email that the Minnesota House of Representative will be holding a “mini-session” in Winona from October 2-4.
“For those of you unfamiliar with mini-sessions, they typically involve House committees traveling as a group to a region in Greater Minnesota with the goal of expanding legislators’ horizons and connecting us directly with local community members through a series of committee hearings, forums and tours,” Hortman wrote in her email.
— Peter Callaghan (@CallaghanPeter) July 31, 2019
In response, all 55 members of the House Republican Caucus signed a letter to Hortman urging her to hold hearings on the DHS at the mini-session.
“We are disappointed that the House DFL Caucus has so far refused to hold hearings on the recent turmoil at the Minnesota Department of Human Services. With the agenda yet to be determined, we are writing to formally request hearings on this topic at the upcoming Mini-Session, if not sooner,” the letter states.
It goes on to declare that Minnesotans have “received no clear explanation for the leadership shakeup at our state’s largest agency.”
“If indeed there are internal conflicts about the direction of DHS that caused Commissioner Lourey to resign after just six months, Minnesotans have a right to know and to be involved in the discussion about those disagreements and the direction of the agency,” the letter continues. “DHS is responsible for billions of dollars in state and federal spending; these decisions are not abstract—they impact the lives of more than a million Minnesotans.”
As The Minnesota Sun reported, the DHS has been embroiled in controversy for the past several months. It started after an Office of the Legislative Auditor report confirmed that millions of dollars in government payments went to fraudulent child care centers under the state’s Child Care Assistance Program.
As a result of that report, Inspector General Carolyn ham, who’s tasked with investigating fraud in DHS programs, was placed on “investigative leave.” She’s been paid $42,000 since her leave first began in March, and The Minnesota Sun learned earlier this month that the investigation into her conduct had yet to even begin.
Lourey and his chief of staff abruptly announced their resignations in mid-July after just six months on the job.
“Minnesota’s largest agency is in chaos, and Democrats have so far refused to hold hearings and demand answers that Minnesotans deserve,” State Rep. Mary Franson (R-Alexandria) said in a press release. “This agency is responsible for billions in spending, and has been under fire for their failure to stop millions in fraud in our public programs. There’s no excuse for Democrats not to hold hearings and conduct basic oversight on behalf of taxpayers.”
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