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Legislative Audit Commission Meeting


March 26, 2010

Members Present:

Representative Michael Beard Senator Don Betzold
Representative Rick Hansen Senator Ann H. Rest
Representative Bill Hilty Senator Claire Robling
Representative Mary Liz Holberg     
Representative Ron Shimanski
Representative Steve Simon

Members Absent:

Senator Joe Gimse
Senator David Hann
Senator James Metzen


In the absence of Chair Senator Ann Rest, Representative Michael Beard, Vice Chair, called the Legislative Audit Commission (LAC) meeting to order at 11:02 a.m. The purpose of the meeting was to approve evaluation topics for 2010.

Representative Beard asked Jim Nobles, Legislative Auditor, to give a brief overview of how the commission arrived at the list of topics. Mr. Nobles said the process began back in February by requesting topic suggestions, which resulted in a master list of 66 topics. On March 5, 2010, the Topic Selection Subcommittee met and reduced the list to 12 topics. All legislators had been surveyed on those 12 topics and there had been a high response rate. He also explained how this was an unusual year in the fact that the OLA had three topics currently being worked on that had been carried forward from the previous year. Therefore, the subcommittee was only bringing a list of three topics to the full commission for approval.

Representative Hansen, as chair of the Topic Selection Subcommittee, moved the following list of three topics to be approved:

Environmental Permitting
K-12 Online Learning
Sex Offender Treatment Program at Moose Lake and St. Peter

Representative Simon suggested that the Fiscal Note Process would be a good evaluation for OLA to conduct. He expressed concern regarding the integrity of the processes used in determining fiscal notes and felt this might be the right time to do such an evaluation. Several suggestions were made by members and Mr. Nobles as to how the process could be improved such as 1) fiscal staff could be given projects to work on during the interim or 2) fiscal staff could work with the Department of Management and Budget to develop a better fiscal note process.

Representative Beard reminded the members that the recommendation had been made for the three topics to be approved and called for a verbal vote. All members were in favor, so the motion prevailed.

Representative Beard asked if there was any other business that needed to be discussed. Representative Hansen mentioned that at the subcommittee meeting Mr. Nobles talked a little about staffing issues at OLA and asked if he would update the full commission on this. Mr. Nobles said that within the Program Evaluation Division the OLA has 13 positions and currently lost a senior evaluator, Deborah Junod. He explained that the chair of the Legislative Coordinating Commission, Senator Metzen, had given approval to fill this position and OLA was currently in the process of doing so. The Financial Audit Division had a higher rate of turnover and had lost a few staff, which Senator Metzen also approved to replace. Mr. Nobles said that OLA is trying to maintain stability; it is not trying to regain positions it lost during previous budget cuts.

With no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 11:23 a.m.

Senator Ann H. Rest, Chair

Shelly Watterud, Recording Secretary



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