Wednesday, February 16, 2011

$olutions in search of a problem

Ideas for legislation at the Minnesota Legislature come from different sources among those, citizens, government agencies, and private businesses. I have seen private sector interests write specific legislation, get it introduced, and then lobby for the specific bill.

For example, several years ago a business who provided services in the drug testing field got legislation introduced to change our drug testing law so that they could market their product.  Another bill was to allow Minnesota driver license pictures to be used for I.D. purposes for a specific product being promoted.  Both bills died.

There is though a new transformation of bill that I have not seen before.  Senate File 180, is an example of this.  The bill mandates the Department of Human Services to do a request for proposal for a vendor to do software and services for fraud prevention. The Department of Human Services says the bill is not theirs.  Is the bill written for a specific client in mind to get a contract?  Is this the case with this bill?  SAS Institute testified in support of the bill.  Did SAS Institute write the bill and then bring it to the attention of a legislator to have it introduced?

Another example is House File 174. The bill mandates that the Revenue Department set up a request for proposal to set up a system for better tax compliance among us taxpayers.  The same questions need to be asked. Is this bill being written for a specific client in mind to get a contract?  I have heard that a world-renowned accounting firm is behind this bill.  Did they write the bill?

Why does it matter who writes the bill?  It matters because the public wants the bidding process to be fair and competitive, not to be written with a specific contractor in mind which would eclipse accountability and transparency.

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