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Legislative Audit Commission


February 20, 2002

The meeting of the Legislative Audit Commission was called to order by Senator Ann H. Rest at 10:10 a.m. on Wednesday, February 20, 2002, in Room 118, State Capitol.

Members Present:

Senator Dave Johnson Representative Ruth Johnson
Senator Sheila Kiscaden    Representative Dan Larson
Senator Ann H. Rest Representative Mary Jo McGuire
Senator Claire Robling Representative Michelle Rifenberg
Senator Deanna Weiner Representative Wes Skoglund

Members Excused:

Senator Bill Belanger Representative Steve Dehler
Senator Thomas Neuville    Representative Peggy Leppik
Senator Jim Vickerman Representative Dan McElroy

Other Legislators Present:

Senator Tony Kinkle     Representative Larry Howes

Senator Rest indicated the purpose of the meeting was to release and review the program evaluation on state employee health insurance, to review the report of the Special Subcommittee on Topic Selection and Data Access, and to consider the evaluation proposal of Ah-Gwah-Ching Center.

Senator Rest recognized Roger Brooks, Deputy Legislative Auditor for Program Evaluation. Mr. Brooks gave a brief overview of reasons the topic was selected for study and findings and conclusions contained in the report. He introduced Jo Vos, project manager and Valerie Bombach, evaluation specialist.

Senator Rest recognized Jo Vos. Ms. Vos reviewed the questions addressed in the report, research methods, findings, and recommendations, and answered questions from members.

Senator Rest recognized David Haugen, Assistant Commissioner for the Employee Insurance Division, Department of Employee Relations. Mr. Haugen reviewed the agency's response to the report and answered questions from members. In response to a question from Senator Robling, Mr. Haugen indicated the agency would explore the possibility of sending copies of medical bills to employees as a means to help detect fraud or billing mistakes and to help make employees more aware of the cost of their medical care.

Senator Rest reported that she had appointed the following members to serve on the Topic Selection Subcommittee: Senator Robling (Chair), Senator Kiscaden, Senator Weiner, Representative Larson, Representative McElroy, and Representative Skoglund.

Senator Rest again recognized Mr. Brooks. Mr. Brooks reviewed a background paper concerning a possible evaluation of Ah-Gwah-Ching Center. Senator Rest recognized Representative Howes and Senator Kinkle. Senator Kinkle indicated that he had met that morning with staff of the Department of Human Services, and as a result, action was planned which would eliminate the need for an evaluation. Senator Rest suggested the topic be set aside at the present time and if no progress was made, it be considered when the Topic Selection Subcommittee reviewed all potential topics.

Senator Rest recognized James Nobles, Legislative Auditor. Mr. Nobles reviewed the report of the Special Subcommittee on Data Access and Topic Selection, chaired by Senator Kiscaden. The subcommittee made three recommendations:

  1. OLA staff should more explicitly assess evaluation proposals against the commission's topic selection criteria.

  2. When the LAC's Topic Selection Subcommittee is ready to decide on its final recommendations, legislators should be invited to make brief (three minute) presentations to the subcommittee in support of the proposals. But failure to appear should not be a negative consideration.

  3. The LAC's topic selection criteria should include a statement indicating that in selecting topics in any year, the commission will seek balance in terms of the subject matter to be addressed in evaluations, as well as in terms of topics of concern to different groups of legislators.

Representative McGuire moved that the Commission adopt these recommendations. Motion passed.

Mr. Nobles gave an overview of legislation which allows the Commission to instruct the OLA to retrieve state agency data if an individual entitled to that data is denied that access. He noted the subcommittee concluded the law was too broadly written and recommended it be narrowed to apply to legislators seeking data for oversight of state agencies. Inasmuch as this amendment would not be introduced until the next legislative session, the subcommittee presented a policy for handling such requests. Representative McGuire moved the Commission adopt the proposed policy on requests for access to public data. Motion passed.

The meeting adjourned at 11:40 a.m.

Senator Ann H. Rest, Chair

Jean Barnhill, Recording Secretary


Office of the Legislative Auditor ♦ Room 140, 658 Cedar St., St. Paul, MN 55155