Articles, Blog

Improving MN’s Vehicle Registration System, Overpayments for Opioid Treatment

Improving MN’s Vehicle Registration System, Overpayments for Opioid Treatment


PROGRAM. I’M SHANNON LOEHRKE. TWO LEGISLATIVE GROUPS MET THIS WEEK, A TASK FORCE CREATED BY THE LEGISLATURE TO TACKLE PROBLEMS WITH MINNESOTA’S VEHICLE REGISTRATION SYSTEM AND AN AUDIT COMMISSION TO REVIEW OVERPAYMENTS BY DHS TO THE WHITE EARTH NATION AND THE LEECH LAKE BAND OF OJIBWE FOR CLIENTS IN THEIR OPIOID MEDICATION-ASSISTED TREATMENT PROGRAMS. SENATOR MARY KIFFMEYER IS THE CHAIR OF THE TASK FORCE AND A MEMBER OF THE AUDIT COMMISSION AND SHE JOINS ME NOW. THANKS FOR BEING HERE.>>THANK YOU, SHANNON, FOR HAVING ME.>>THE VEHICLE REGISTRATION TASK FORCE GREW OUT OF THE 2018 REVIEW BY THE LEGISLATIVE AUDITOR THAT EXAMINED THE ACCURACY OF TRANSACTIONS WITHIN THE SOON TO BE RETIRED MINNESOTA LICENSING AND REGISTRATION SYSTEM, OR MNLARS. WHAT IS THE CHARGE OF THE TASK FORCE?>>THE DUTY OF THE TASK FORCE IS VERY EXPLICIT. RECOGNIZE THAT MINNESOTA’S CURRENT FORMULA, AND, BY THE WAY, THERE ARE ABOUT FIVE DIFFERENT WAYS NATIONWIDE TO CALCULATE THIS REGISTRATION FEE, WEIGHT, VALUE, A VARIETY OF METHODS THAT WE DO — MINNESOTA CHOSE THE MOST COMPLICATED ONE, AND OF THE COMPLICATED ONES, WE ARE ONE OF THE MOST COMPLICATED. SO IT GETS REALLY DEEP IN THE WEEDS. AND THAT MAKES IT VERY DIFFICULT FOR PEOPLE OUT THERE TO UNDERSTAND WHY IS THE SAME VEHICLE THAT I PURCHASED GOT A DIFFERENT FEE THAN SOMEBODY ELSE. BUT ALL OF THOSE RATE BASE, ALL THOSE INFORMATION, THE VIN INFORMATION, HUGELY COMPLICATED. THE JOB OF THE TASK FORCE IS TO WORK TO COME UP WITH SOMETHING THAT IS SIMPLER, EFFECTIVE, AND, YET, DOES NOT REDUCE THE REVENUE. AND THE MAIN REASON FOR THAT IS, HALF OF THE ROAD FUND IS FUNDED, ALMOST HALF OF IT, ABOUT, I WOULD SAY, 45% OF IT OR SO, IS FUNDED BY THIS FEE. IT GOES DIRECTLY INTO THE ROAD AND BRIDGE ACCOUNT. SO IT’S IMPORTANT THAT WE NOT SHORT IT AT ALL. SO OUR TASK IS, COME UP WITH A DIFFERENT WAY, MAKE IT SIMPLE, MAKE IT EFFICIENT, AND MAKE IT REVENUE NEUTRAL, MEANING NOT MORE, BUT CERTAINLY NOT LESS.>>THE AUDITOR’S REVIEW FOUND STRIKING DISCREPANCIES IN THE BASE VALUE OF PASSENGER VEHICLES, WHICH LED TO VAST DIFFERENCES IN THE AMOUNT OF TAXES AND FEES THAT PEOPLE OWED WITH ESSENTIALLY THE SAME VEHICLE, AS YOU SAID. AND I REMEMBER ONE FORD F-150 HAD A BASE VALUE OF $2 AND ANOTHER $70,000, WHICH CHANGES THE TAX CALCULATIONS, LIKE, HUGELY, I MEAN, VERY EXPENSIVE.>>AND NOT ONLY FOR THAT FIRST TIME BUT FOR THE LIFE OF THE VEHICLE.>>SO, WHAT ARE THE UNDERLYING QUESTIONS? YOU’VE KIND OF ALREADY SAID, BUT WHAT REALLY NEEDS TO BE RESOLVED AS THE STATE PREPARES FOR ITS NEW VEHICLE REGISTRATION SYSTEM, OR SENIOR CITIZEN RES, THAT’S COMING ON LINE IN ABOUT A YEAR AND A HALF OR SO? VTRS.>>IT’S REALLY CRITICALLY IMPORTANT THAT WE COME UP WITH WHAT IS THAT WAY WE’RE GOING TO CALCULATE THE FEE, WHAT ARE WE GOING TO USE? AGE OF THE VEHICLE? ARE WE GOING TO USE WEIGHT, ARE WE GOING TO USE SOME FORM OF THE VALUE, ARE WE GOING TO USE A FLAT ONE? FLAT HAS A LOT OF THINGS TO IT BECAUSE IT’S THE FLAT FEE, BOOM, EVERYBODY PAYS THE SAME, . THE PROBLEM IS GOING FROM THE PREVIOUS SYSTEM TO A FLAT FEE, THAT MEANS THOSE WHO ARE RIGHT NOW IN THE BOTTOM, WE HAVE TO MAKE A TRANSITION. THOSE WHO ARE AT THE TOP. AND, SO, IN MINNESOTA VALUES, I THINK WE’RE GENERALLY SAYING, WE DON’T REALLY PARTICULARLY LIKE THAT ONE. A CAR ON THE ROAD IS A CAR ON THE ROAD. BUT WE HAVE TO DEAL WITH THE REALITY OF WHAT WE CAN DO. SO, OUR JOB IS TO COME UP WITH THAT SO THAT THIS NEW SOFTWARE KNOWS WHAT TO PROGRAM IN. BUT, BY THE WAY, WHEN WE HAD THE F.A.S.T. COMPANY REPRESENTATIVES COME IN, WE ASKED THEM THE QUESTION, HOW SOON DO YOU NEED TO KNOW? BY JANUARY, FEBRUARY OF NEXT YEAR IS WHEN WE NEED TO GIVE AN ANSWER TO THAT. SO THAT TIMING IS IMPORTANT. AND THE DECISION IS IMPORTANT. AND THE HEARING THAT WE HAD, WE SPENT TWO HOURS KIND OF LAYING THE STAGE FOR THE PROBLEM BECAUSE WE DON’T ALL AGREE THERE IS A PROBLEM. IT’S HARD TO SAY, WELL, THEN, WHAT IS THE SOLUTION? SO WE’RE WAITING FOR THE MINNESOTA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, THE FINANCIAL DEPARTMENT, TO COME UP WITH ANALYSIS OF ALL THOSE FOUR DIFFERENT METHODOLOGIES, WHAT WOULD IT TAKE TO BE REVENUE NEUTRAL AND THEN WE’RE GOING TO HAVE TO DECIDE ON ONE OF THOSE. WE’RE LOOKING AT HAVING ANOTHER MEETING IN THE NEXT TWO, THREE WEEKS TO GET THAT REPORT TO GET THAT DATA SO WE CAN TIMELY MAKE THAT DECISION SO THAT THEY CAN DO THE SOFTWARE.>>THERE IS SOME URGENCY HERE. ONE OTHER THING FROM THE COMMITTEE THAT I THOUGHT WAS INTERESTING IS THAT THE STATE PROHIBITS CHANGES IN BASE VALUE MADE AFTER THE FACT. SO IF IT’S INPUTTED INCORRECTLY, IT STAYS INCORRECT, AS YOU MENTIONED. WHEN YOU CONSIDER THAT MANUFACTURERS DON’T RELEASE A FINAL SUGGESTED RETAIL VALUE UNTIL UP TO 18 MONTHS AFTER THE CAR HAS BEEN PURCHASED OR THERE COULD BE BASIC HUMAN ERROR IN DATA ENTRY, DOES THAT PART OF THE LAW NEED TO CHANGE SO THAT AS VALUES MAYBE ARE ADJUSTED OVER TIME IT AFFECTS THE TAX OWED OVER THAT TIME?>>OH, ABSOLUTELY, SHANNON. MOST IMPORTANT THING WE CAN DO IS SCRAP THAT WHOLE THING OR STRIKE OUT ALL THE VAGUERIES, ALL THE VARIETY OF THINGS. OH, MY GOSH, YOU READ IT, IT’S JUST LIKE A RABBIT TRAIL OR AN ANT OR WHATEVER IT GOES, AND THEN IF THIS, AND OH, BY THE WAY, IF THAT, AND THEN THERE’S A CHART FOR THIS AND A CHART FOR THAT. NO WONDER. BUT I REMEMBER THINKING, THOUGH, WHEN THEY DID THE ORIGINAL MNLARS, YOU KNOW, THE LONG THING, DID ANYBODY STOP TO THINK, THIS IS TOO COMPLICATED, SHOULD WE GO TO THE LEGISLATURE AND ASK THEM TO CREATE A TASK FORCE AND DO IT. THEY DIDN’T DO THAT. OF COURSE, THE SOFTWARE IS SO BADLY WRITTEN, WE ALL KNOW THAT OLD STORY. BUT WE HAVE A GREAT COMPANY NOW. AND, ABSOLUTELY, YES, WE JUST CAN’T KEEP DOING IT THAT WAY. AS A MATTER OF FACT, THE QUESTION THAT WE HAD IN THE TASK FORCE HEARING WAS, IS THERE ANY WAY TO GET ACCURATE DATA STILL DOING THE CURRENT MINNESOTA LAW? IT WAS CLEAR THAT ABSOLUTELY NOT, YOU CANNOT. AND, SO, THE IMPORTANT CONCLUSION WAS, YES, THIS IS UNWORKABLE. I’M SORRY, I WAS THERE ALREADY A YEAR AGO WHEN I DRAFTED A BILL TO COME UP WITH A DIFFERENT WAY, BUT, FINALLY, I THINK A LARGE GROUP OF STAKEHOLDERS IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR, COMMISSIONER OF TRANSPORTATION, A WHOLE VARIETY OF FOLKS, I THINK HAVE FINALLY SETTLED THAT, YES, THIS WILL NOT WORK, WE HAVE TO COME UP EITHER WITH A NEW KIND OF VALUE BASIS LIKE THE MINNESOTA SUGGESTED RETAIL PRICE. OKAY. THAT’S A STICKER, THAT’S WHAT’S ON THE CAR.>>RIGHT.>>THAT KIND OF FITS WITH MINNESOTA’S CURRENT WAY. THERE’S STILL OTHER PROBLEMS, THOUGH. 45% OF THE CURRENT VEHICLES ARE ONLY PAYING $35 ON THEIR REGISTRATION FEE BECAUSE THEIR CAR IS MORE THAN TEN YEARS OLD. SO HALF OF THE PEOPLE ARE PAYING $35 AND 55% OF THE PEOPLE ARE PAYING A MUCH LARGER AMOUNT TO TAKE CARE OF THE ROADS AND BRIDGES. SO I THINK WE’VE GOT TO ALSO TAKE A LOOK AT SOME OF THAT EQUITY IN REGARDS TO A CAR ON THE ROAD STILL HAS WEIGHT AND STILL DOES HAVE WEAR AND TEAR ON THE ROAD AND WE’VE GOT TO TAKE CARE OF BALANCING THAT BETTER AS WELL.>>I’D LIKE TO GET YOUR INPUT ON ONE OTHER ITEM BECAUSE IT WAS A BUSY WEEK HERE AT THE LEGISLATURE. THE JOINT MEETING OF THE LEGISLATIVE AUDIT COMMISSION MET TO HEAR THE RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THE LEGISLATIVE AUDITOR ABOUT THE OVERPAYMENTS BY THE DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES TO TWO TRIBAL COMMUNITIES FOR ADDICTION TREATMENT. WHAT’S YOUR VIEW ON THIS?>>WELL, ADDICTION TREATMENT IS VERY VERY IMPORTANT. WE WANT TO BE SURE THAT EVERYBODY GETS THE RIGHT MEDICATION AT THE RIGHT TIME BY THE RIGHT PROVIDER. HOWEVER, THERE IS BOTH FEDERAL LAW AND STATE LAW IN REGARDS TO AN ENCOUNTER. AN ENCOUNTER MEANS FACE TO FACE, WE HAVE AN ENCOUNTER. BUT WHAT’S BEEN HAPPENING HERE IS THE DEPARTMENT, SOMEWHERE, SOMEPLACE, SOMEBODY LITERALLY AT THE COMMITTEE HEARING SAID TODAY, THAT, OKAY, THAT EVEN IF YOU DIDN’T MEET FACE TO FACE, WE WOULD PAY YOU AS IF YOU HAD. AND THAT’S CONTRARY TO BOTH MINNESOTA AND FEDERAL LAW. AND, IN ADDITION, THE OTHER ISSUE THAT THEY’RE GOING TO HAVE TO DEAL WITH ON THE FEDERAL LEVEL IS SINCE THERE WAS NO ACTUAL FACE TO FACE, WHAT WAS THE $455 PAID FOR EACH ONE OF THOSE PILLS TAKEN AT HOME, OKAY, THAT’S NOT AN ENCOUNTER, THAT’S AT HOME, WHAT WAS THAT MONEY USED FOR? WHERE DID IT GO, SINCE, OBVIOUSLY, IT WASN’T NEEDED FOR THE PROVIDER OR THE OFFICE OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT. SO THE WHOLE BROAD ISSUE IS, HERE, THOSE WERE PAYMENTS INCORRECTLY MADE. BY THE WAY, THERE’S A LAW THAT ALSO SAYS THAT, YES, THERE CAN BE AN ERROR ON THE PART OF AN AGENCY THAT GAVE YOU BAD ADVICE. HOWEVER, THERE IS A CAVEAT. IF A REASONABLE PERSON WOULD HAVE SAID, WELL, THAT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE BECAUSE WE DIDN’T HAVE AN ENCOUNTER, AND THEY SHOULD HAVE SAID, WELL, THAT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE BECAUSE THE LAW ALSO SAYS, A REASONABLE PERSON SHOULD HAVE SAID, THIS DOESN’T SEEM RIGHT, AND THE TRIBES DIDN’T DO THAT. SO THERE’S SOME CULPABILITY, I THINK, ON BOTH SIDES IN RECOGNIZING THAT AN ENCOUNTER SHOULD BE THAT, AND THEN WHERE DOES THE MONEY GO. IN THE MEANTIME, STATE LAW ALSO REQUIRES THAT THEY RETURN THAT MONEY. THAT’S ANOTHER ISSUE ALTOGETHER THAT IS GOING TO TAKE QUITE A BIT OF TIME TO RESOLVE.>>AND WE WILL KEEP WATCHING. SENATOR KIFFMEYER, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR

Tagged , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *