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Cass County hears legislators' view of session

WALKER -- State Sen. Tom Saxhaug and Reps. Tom Anzelc and John Persell gave Cass County commissioners their views of the recent legislative session Tuesday. While Minnesota residents and legislators entered this year's session expecting it to be ...

WALKER - State Sen. Tom Saxhaug and Reps. Tom Anzelc and John Persell gave Cass

County commissioners their views of the recent legislative session Tuesday.

While Minnesota residents and legislators entered this year's session expecting it to be a

transportation year, Anzelc said, "we failed" due to a failure to reach a bipartisan agreement.

"The end of the session was very messy," he said summing up the frenzy before final votes.

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Saxhaug did see a plus to the fact the legislative leadership, Sen. Tom Bakk and Rep. Kurt

Daudt, got along and did cooperate to produce compromise bills, even though Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed three major bills.

He said conflicts over the environmental/agriculture and the economic development/energy

bills largely reflected the conflict between metro and rural viewpoints. Saxhaug said forestry

received more money than in many years this year.

He expects the final education legislation Dayton and the Legislature now are negotiating before the special session will include $125 million more than the bill Dayton vetoed. He expects Indian education to benefit from some of the final provisions.

Saxhaug, too, was disappointed a compromise could not be reached on a major transportation bill.

Like Rep. John Persell, Saxhaug praised the improved wages for nursing home employees.

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Persell said nursing home residents want consistent caregivers, but low wages have led

caregivers to move from job to job to seek better pay. Higher wages will help keep some nursing homes open in rural Minnesota, he said.

In other county board business Tuesday, health, human and veterans services (HHVS)

reported their overall budget is on target after a third of the year, but out of home child

placement costs are exceeding that budget significantly.

After a third of the year, 51 percent of that $1,546,150 child placement budget had been

spent. Of the total budget, Cass' share of costs is $1,319,150, and 52 percent of that had been spent. This year, the 70 to 90 children in placement each month is running about 20 children ahead of last year.

The commissioners approved an agreement with the state to allow HHVS employees to access state court records electronically.

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They approved Medica and UCare to serve as insurance providers to persons using Medical

Assistance or MinnesotaCare in the county.

The board accepted a Cass Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) committee

recommendation to decline to levy a special levy for HRA and referred HRA's request for

funding to the county budget committee to consider under the general county levy.

Commissioners also accepted and adopted the committee recommendation to forgive a

$30,000 loan made to HRA Dec. 16, 2014, which was payable Dec. 16, 2016.

HRA has been running short of funds since federal subsidies were cut.

Cass received notice the county was unsuccessful in its application for a MacArthur

Foundation grant for a pilot project to evaluate persons charged with a crime to determine whether more people could be released from jail prior to making court appearances to determine their guilt or innocence.

The county received an additional $3,565 from the state Department of Public Safety to bring the total grant this year to $110,265 to operate Wellness Court. That is an intensive counseling program aimed at rehabilitating repeat DWI offenders.

Related Topics: CASS COUNTY
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