Legislature(1995 - 1996)

03/25/1996 09:06 AM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
        SB 215 OMNIBUS STATE AGENCY OPERATIONS & PROGRAM                      
 Number 003                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN GREEN called the Senate Health, Education and Social                 
 Services (HESS) Committee to order at 9:06 a.m. and introduced                
 SB 215  as the first order of business before the committee.                  
 ELMER LINDSTROM, Special Assistant in Department of Health & Social           
 Services, said that he would speak to Section 5 regarding the                 
 Infant Learning Program.  When the Infant Learning Program                    
 attempted to promulgate regulations in order to bring the program             
 into compliance with new federal requirements, the Department of              
 Law informed the department that it did not have specific grant               
 making authority for this program.  This program has and is                   
 currently operating as a grant program.  Without the grant                    
 authority, this program would be required to go to a contractual              
 basis which requires the procurement process and some additional              
 costs to the department.                                                      
 CHAIRMAN GREEN asked if he was referring only to the Infant                   
 Learning Program.  ELMER LINDSTROM explained that the Infant                  
 Learning Program is funded through the Division of Public Health.             
 Mr. Lindstrom acknowledged that there is often confusion that the             
 program is in the Division of Mental Health and Developmental                 
 Disabilities.  In response to Chairman Green, review of the full              
 statute would indicate that it only refers to the Infant Learning             
 Program.  Mr. Lindstrom said that the department had assumed that             
 they had grant powers for this program, but the Department of Law             
 indicated otherwise when approached about regulations.                        
 Number 066                                                                    
 SENATOR LEMAN expressed concern with what sideboards were placed on           
 the grant authority.  Senator Leman believed it is probably right             
 to grant this authority.  Does the federal law establish certain              
 restrictions regarding what this can be used for?  ELMER LINDSTROM            
 did not have the regulations nor did he recall the issue with the             
 federal government.  The regulations were clean up regulations of             
 no programmatic impact, but were required in order to receive                 
 federal funds.  Mr. Lindstrom said that he could obtain that                  
 information for the committee.                                                
 CHAIRMAN GREEN restated that without this grant making authority,             
 the department would have to contract which creates more work and             
 increases the costs.  ELMER LINDSTROM agreed and said that                    
 additional administrative costs would be incurred by the                      
 department.  This program has always operated as a grant program;             
 this is a technical clean up.  With regards to Section 6, Mr.                 
 Lindstrom did not believe that section applied to the program.                
 CHAIRMAN GREEN thought that Sections 5 and 6 were related to the              
 department.  ELMER LINDSTROM said that he was incorrect, Sections             
 5 and 6 work together.                                                        
 CHAIRMAN GREEN inquired as to the new language in Section 6.                  
 SENATOR LEMAN believed that Section 6 should be consistent with               
 Section 5.                                                                    
 Number 129                                                                    
 SENATOR MILLER realized that page 3, line 11 is already existing              
 law, but how does it work?  What happens if a family is determined            
 to no longer be eligible for a program that they receive funding?             
 Does the department attempt to recover those funds of families that           
 were not really eligible?  ELMER LINDSTROM did not know the process           
 in detail.  Many of the ILPs are operated by school districts.  Mr.           
 Lindstrom acknowledged that there is still a waiting list in some             
 areas of the state.  Mr. Lindstrom said that he could get this                
 information from the division.                                                
 SENATOR MILLER was curious to what happens when a family is                   
 determined to be ineligible.  The language seems to indicate that             
 the family would receive funding until proven not to be eligible.             
 In that case, is there an attempt to recover those funds?  ELMER              
 LINDSTROM said that he would get that information.                            
 A discussion ensued about whether or not to hold the bill for the             
 answers to these questions.                                                   
 CHAIRMAN GREEN said that the staff is frustrated because people               
 challenge a decision in order to continue to receive benefits.                
 During the time between the challenge and the determination, the              
 person receives benefits.  If it is determined that the person is             
 ineligible, is there an effort to retrieve the money they received?           
 Chairman Green held the bill until Wednesday when Mr. Lindstrom               
 would provide the requested information.                                      

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