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Legislative Audit Commission

January 26, 2001

The meeting of the Legislative Audit Commission was called to order by Representative Dan McElroy on Friday, January 26, 2001 at 1:05 P.M. in Room 316, State Capitol.

Members Present:

Representative Mindy Greiling Senator Sheila Kiscaden
Representative Philip Krinkie Senator Jim Vickerman
Representative Peggy Leppik
Representative Dan McElroy
Representative Mary Jo McGuire
Representative Wes Skoglund

Members Excused:

Representative Dave Bishop Senator Bill Belanger, Jr.
Representative Lynda Boudreau    Senator Dave Johnson
Representative Chris Gerlach Senator Doug Johnson
Representative Jim Rhodes Senator David L. Knutson
Representative Steven Sviggum Senator Keith Langseth
Senator James Metzen
Senator Roger Moe
Senator Thomas Neuville
Senator Claire Robling
Senator Deanna Wiener

Representative McElroy indicated the purpose of the meeting was to review the program evaluation report on early district courts. He recognized James Nobles, Legislative Auditor. Mr. Nobles reviewed the reasons the commission selected this topic for study. He noted that while there had been some opposition to the study on the part of the judicial branch, evaluators did receive the court's full cooperation. He recognized Jody Hauer, project manager, and evaluation specialists David Chein and Jan Sandberg.

Ms. Hauer reviewed the purpose of the study, areas that were studied and those that were not, and research methods used. She reviewed the study's findings, conclusions, and recommendations and answered questions from members.

Representative McElroy recognized Judge Leslie Metzen, Chair of the Minnesota Conference of Chief Judges. Judge Metzen reviewed her response to the report, noting that she agreed with two of the report's recommendations: the need for an improved method of determining the number of judges needed and that pay for retired judges filling temporary vacancies should be changed. However, she indicated that total needs were more pressing than indicated in the report.

Representative McElroy recognized Justice Kathleen Blatz, Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court. Justice Blatz noted her concern that an office in the legislative branch was studying the work of the judicial branch, but indicated she thought the report was well done and fair. She suggested the establishment of an inter-branch commission to look at the issues confronting the courts, such as not enough Guardians Ad Litem, child protection issues, etc. She suggested that when legislation is introduced concerning crimes, that in addition to fiscal notes there should be judicial notes.

The meeting adjourned at 2:30 p.m.

Representative Dan McElroy, Chair

Jean Barnhill, Recording Secretary


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