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Legislative Audit Commission Meeting

Minutes

May 13, 2009

Members Present:

Representative Rick Hansen Senator Don Betzold
Representative Mary Liz Holberg Senator David Hann
Representative Ron Shimanski Senator James Metzen
  Senator Ann H. Rest
  Senator Claire Robling

Members Absent:

Representative Michael Beard Senator Joe Gimse
Representative Bill Hilty
Representative Steve Simon

 

Senator Ann Rest, Chair, called the Legislative Audit Commission (LAC) meeting to order at 9:08 a.m.  The purpose of the meeting was to release the evaluation, Capitol Complex Security.

Senator Rest introduced Jim Nobles, Legislative Auditor.  Mr. Nobles said that being prudent about security in the Capitol Complex should be a priority.  He said that the three branches of government should create a task force to develop a report that identifies Capitol Complex vulnerabilities and makes recommendations for addressing them.  Mr. Nobles introduced Joel Alter, manager for the Capitol Complex Security evaluation, to give more details.  Mr. Alter said that the overall conclusions of the study were:  1) security vulnerabilities in the Capitol Complex have not been adequately addressed; and 2) Capitol Security needs emergency response plans, updated policies, and additional sworn officers.  Mr. Alter explained that he could not disclose the specifics of the security vulnerabilities; however, he said they are significant and should be addressed in a timely manner.  Mr. Alter said the evaluation recommended that the Department of Public Safety should:  1) develop more detailed, written plans and policies regarding emergency preparedness and response; 2) present the Legislature with a plan for adding several sworn peace officers to its Capitol Security workforce; and 3) update Capitol Security policies and procedures and ensure that staff have adequate training.  He also said the evaluation recommended that the Legislature should:  1) establish in statute a Committee on Capitol Complex Security; 2) consider security-related capital projects as part of the 2010 bonding process; 3) fund Capitol Security through direct appropriations; and 4) authorize the State Patrol to provide protection to additional state leaders, if credible threats exist. 

In response to Senator Hann’s request to examine expenses the Attorney General incurred to purchase and install two doors in her office, Mr. Nobles said that the OLA did not find a basis for an audit finding.  He said the Attorney General acted within her authority and followed applicable state policies and procedures.  Mr. Nobles said that what this shows is that the Attorney General had some security concerns and she could not find anywhere in state government to address those concerns; therefore, she went to a private citizen to do the security vulnerability assessment, both for her office space at the Capitol and her private residence.   

Senator Rest welcomed Michael Campion, Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, to comment on the evaluation of Capitol Complex Security.  Mr. Campion said that the department supports the recommendation to establish a Committee on Capitol Complex Security.  He said that such a group has met in the past.  He added that the department plans to fully consider the other recommendations made in the report.  Senator Rest welcomed Dave Fielding, Director of Plant Management, Department of Administration, to comment on the evaluation.  In response to Representative Holberg, Mr. Fielding said that the Capitol Complex saw some security-related improvements as part of planning for the Republican National Convention last year.  Mr. Fielding said that the Department of Administration is already preparing to discuss security-related building changes as part of the capital bonding process for 2010.

Mr. Nobles said that the next report will be the special review of the Metro Gang Strike Force and that it is set to be released next week.  Senator Rest said there will be a public presentation made to the LAC on this report as requested by some of the members.

With no further discussion or comments, the meeting was adjourned at 10:14 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