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Chapter 256

Section 256.01


Recent History

256.01 Commissioner of human services; powers, duties.

Subdivision 1. Powers transferred. All the powers and duties now vested in or imposed upon the state board of control by the laws of this state or by any law of the United States are hereby transferred to, vested in, and imposed upon the commissioner of human services, except the powers and duties otherwise specifically transferred by Laws 1939, chapter 431, to other agencies. The commissioner of human services is hereby constituted the "state agency" as defined by the Social Security Act of the United States and the laws of this state.

Subd. 2. Specific powers. Subject to the provisions of section 241.021, subdivision 2, the commissioner of human services shall:

(1) Administer and supervise all forms of public assistance provided for by state law and other welfare activities or services as are vested in the commissioner. Administration and supervision of human services activities or services includes, but is not limited to, assuring timely and accurate distribution of benefits, completeness of service, and quality program management. In addition to administering and supervising human services activities vested by law in the department, the commissioner shall have the authority to:

(a) require county agency participation in training and technical assistance programs to promote compliance with statutes, rules, federal laws, regulations, and policies governing human services;

(b) monitor, on an ongoing basis, the performance of county agencies in the operation and administration of human services, enforce compliance with statutes, rules, federal laws, regulations, and policies governing welfare services and promote excellence of administration and program operation;

(c) develop a quality control program or other monitoring program to review county performance and accuracy of benefit determinations;

(d) require county agencies to make an adjustment to the public assistance benefits issued to any individual consistent with federal law and regulation and state law and rule and to issue or recover benefits as appropriate;

(e) delay or deny payment of all or part of the state and federal share of benefits and administrative reimbursement according to the procedures set forth in section 256.017; and

(f) make contracts with and grants to public and private agencies and organizations, both profit and nonprofit, and individuals, using appropriated funds.

(2) Inform county agencies, on a timely basis, of changes in statute, rule, federal law, regulation, and policy necessary to county agency administration of the programs.

(3) Administer and supervise all child welfare activities; promote the enforcement of laws protecting handicapped, dependent, neglected and delinquent children, and children born to mothers who were not married to the children's fathers at the times of the conception nor at the births of the children; license and supervise child-caring and child-placing agencies and institutions; supervise the care of children in boarding and foster homes or in private institutions; and generally perform all functions relating to the field of child welfare now vested in the state board of control.

(4) Administer and supervise all noninstitutional service to handicapped persons, including those who are visually impaired, hearing impaired, or physically impaired or otherwise handicapped. The commissioner may provide and contract for the care and treatment of qualified indigent children in facilities other than those located and available at state hospitals when it is not feasible to provide the service in state hospitals.

(5) Assist and actively cooperate with other departments, agencies and institutions, local, state, and federal, by performing services in conformity with the purposes of Laws 1939, chapter 431.

(6) Act as the agent of and cooperate with the federal government in matters of mutual concern relative to and in conformity with the provisions of Laws 1939, chapter 431, including the administration of any federal funds granted to the state to aid in the performance of any functions of the commissioner as specified in Laws 1939, chapter 431, and including the promulgation of rules making uniformly available medical care benefits to all recipients of public assistance, at such times as the federal government increases its participation in assistance expenditures for medical care to recipients of public assistance, the cost thereof to be borne in the same proportion as are grants of aid to said recipients.

(7) Establish and maintain any administrative units reasonably necessary for the performance of administrative functions common to all divisions of the department.

(8) Act as designated guardian of both the estate and the person of all the wards of the state of Minnesota, whether by operation of law or by an order of court, without any further act or proceeding whatever, except as to persons committed as mentally retarded. For children under the guardianship of the commissioner whose interests would be best served by adoptive placement, the commissioner may contract with a licensed child-placing agency to provide adoption services. A contract with a licensed child-placing agency must be designed to supplement existing county efforts and may not replace existing county programs, unless the replacement is agreed to by the county board and the appropriate exclusive bargaining representative or the commissioner has evidence that child placements of the county continue to be substantially below that of other counties.

(9) Act as coordinating referral and informational center on requests for service for newly arrived immigrants coming to Minnesota.

(10) The specific enumeration of powers and duties as hereinabove set forth shall in no way be construed to be a limitation upon the general transfer of powers herein contained.

(11) Establish county, regional, or statewide schedules of maximum fees and charges which may be paid by county agencies for medical, dental, surgical, hospital, nursing and nursing home care and medicine and medical supplies under all programs of medical care provided by the state and for congregate living care under the income maintenance programs.

(12) Have the authority to conduct and administer experimental projects to test methods and procedures of administering assistance and services to recipients or potential recipients of public welfare. To carry out such experimental projects, it is further provided that the commissioner of human services is authorized to waive the enforcement of existing specific statutory program requirements, rules, and standards in one or more counties. The order establishing the waiver shall provide alternative methods and procedures of administration, shall not be in conflict with the basic purposes, coverage, or benefits provided by law, and in no event shall the duration of a project exceed four years. It is further provided that no order establishing an experimental project as authorized by the provisions of this section shall become effective until the following conditions have been met:

(a) The secretary of health, education, and welfare of the United States has agreed, for the same project, to waive state plan requirements relative to statewide uniformity.

(b) A comprehensive plan, including estimated project costs, shall be approved by the legislative advisory commission and filed with the commissioner of administration.

(13) According to federal requirements, establish procedures to be followed by local welfare boards in creating citizen advisory committees, including procedures for selection of committee members.

(14) Allocate federal fiscal disallowances or sanctions which are based on quality control error rates for the aid to families with dependent children, Minnesota family investment program-statewide, medical assistance, or food stamp program in the following manner:

(a) One-half of the total amount of the disallowance shall be borne by the county boards responsible for administering the programs. For the medical assistance, MFIP-S, and AFDC programs, disallowances shall be shared by each county board in the same proportion as that county's expenditures for the sanctioned program are to the total of all counties' expenditures for the AFDC, MFIP-S, and medical assistance programs. For the food stamp program, sanctions shall be shared by each county board, with 50 percent of the sanction being distributed to each county in the same proportion as that county's administrative costs for food stamps are to the total of all food stamp administrative costs for all counties, and 50 percent of the sanctions being distributed to each county in the same proportion as that county's value of food stamp benefits issued are to the total of all benefits issued for all counties. Each county shall pay its share of the disallowance to the state of Minnesota. When a county fails to pay the amount due hereunder, the commissioner may deduct the amount from reimbursement otherwise due the county, or the attorney general, upon the request of the commissioner, may institute civil action to recover the amount due.

(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (a), if the disallowance results from knowing noncompliance by one or more counties with a specific program instruction, and that knowing noncompliance is a matter of official county board record, the commissioner may require payment or recover from the county or counties, in the manner prescribed in paragraph (a), an amount equal to the portion of the total disallowance which resulted from the noncompliance, and may distribute the balance of the disallowance according to paragraph (a).

(15) Develop and implement special projects that maximize reimbursements and result in the recovery of money to the state. For the purpose of recovering state money, the commissioner may enter into contracts with third parties. Any recoveries that result from projects or contracts entered into under this paragraph shall be deposited in the state treasury and credited to a special account until the balance in the account reaches $1,000,000. When the balance in the account exceeds $1,000,000, the excess shall be transferred and credited to the general fund. All money in the account is appropriated to the commissioner for the purposes of this paragraph.

(16) Have the authority to make direct payments to facilities providing shelter to women and their children according to section 256D.05, subdivision 3. Upon the written request of a shelter facility that has been denied payments under section 256D.05, subdivision 3, the commissioner shall review all relevant evidence and make a determination within 30 days of the request for review regarding issuance of direct payments to the shelter facility. Failure to act within 30 days shall be considered a determination not to issue direct payments.

(17) Have the authority to establish and enforce the following county reporting requirements:

(a) The commissioner shall establish fiscal and statistical reporting requirements necessary to account for the expenditure of funds allocated to counties for human services programs. When establishing financial and statistical reporting requirements, the commissioner shall evaluate all reports, in consultation with the counties, to determine if the reports can be simplified or the number of reports can be reduced.

(b) The county board shall submit monthly or quarterly reports to the department as required by the commissioner. Monthly reports are due no later than 15 working days after the end of the month. Quarterly reports are due no later than 30 calendar days after the end of the quarter, unless the commissioner determines that the deadline must be shortened to 20 calendar days to avoid jeopardizing compliance with federal deadlines or risking a loss of federal funding. Only reports that are complete, legible, and in the required format shall be accepted by the commissioner.

(c) If the required reports are not received by the deadlines established in clause (b), the commissioner may delay payments and withhold funds from the county board until the next reporting period. When the report is needed to account for the use of federal funds and the late report results in a reduction in federal funding, the commissioner shall withhold from the county boards with late reports an amount equal to the reduction in federal funding until full federal funding is received.

(d) A county board that submits reports that are late, illegible, incomplete, or not in the required format for two out of three consecutive reporting periods is considered noncompliant. When a county board is found to be noncompliant, the commissioner shall notify the county board of the reason the county board is considered noncompliant and request that the county board develop a corrective action plan stating how the county board plans to correct the problem. The corrective action plan must be submitted to the commissioner within 45 days after the date the county board received notice of noncompliance.

(e) The final deadline for fiscal reports or amendments to fiscal reports is one year after the date the report was originally due. If the commissioner does not receive a report by the final deadline, the county board forfeits the funding associated with the report for that reporting period and the county board must repay any funds associated with the report received for that reporting period.

(f) The commissioner may not delay payments, withhold funds, or require repayment under paragraph (c) or (e) if the county demonstrates that the commissioner failed to provide appropriate forms, guidelines, and technical assistance to enable the county to comply with the requirements. If the county board disagrees with an action taken by the commissioner under paragraph (c) or (e), the county board may appeal the action according to sections 14.57 to 14.69.

(g) Counties subject to withholding of funds under paragraph (c) or forfeiture or repayment of funds under paragraph (e) shall not reduce or withhold benefits or services to clients to cover costs incurred due to actions taken by the commissioner under paragraph (c) or (e).

(18) Allocate federal fiscal disallowances or sanctions for audit exceptions when federal fiscal disallowances or sanctions are based on a statewide random sample for the foster care program under title IV-E of the Social Security Act, United States Code, title 42, in direct proportion to each county's title IV-E foster care maintenance claim for that period.

(19) Be responsible for ensuring the detection, prevention, investigation, and resolution of fraudulent activities or behavior by applicants, recipients, and other participants in the human services programs administered by the department.

(20) Require county agencies to identify overpayments, establish claims, and utilize all available and cost-beneficial methodologies to collect and recover these overpayments in the human services programs administered by the department.

(21) Have the authority to administer a drug rebate program for drugs purchased pursuant to the senior citizen drug program established under section 256.955 after the beneficiary's satisfaction of any deductible established in the program. The commissioner shall require a rebate agreement from all manufacturers of covered drugs as defined in section 256B.0625, subdivision 13. For each drug, the amount of the rebate shall be equal to the basic rebate as defined for purposes of the federal rebate program in United States Code, title 42, section 1396r-8(c)(1). This basic rebate shall be applied to single-source and multiple-source drugs. The manufacturers must provide full payment within 30 days of receipt of the state invoice for the rebate within the terms and conditions used for the federal rebate program established pursuant to section 1927 of title XIX of the Social Security Act. The manufacturers must provide the commissioner with any information necessary to verify the rebate determined per drug. The rebate program shall utilize the terms and conditions used for the federal rebate program established pursuant to section 1927 of title XIX of the Social Security Act.

Subd. 3. Executive council, powers transferred. All the powers and duties now vested in or imposed upon the executive council, or any other agency which may have succeeded to its authority, relating to the administration and distribution of direct relief to the indigent or destitute, including war veterans and their families and dependents, are hereby transferred to, vested in, and imposed upon the commissioner of human services.

Subd. 4. Duties as state agency. The state agency shall:

(1) supervise the administration of assistance to dependent children under Laws 1937, chapter 438, by the county agencies in an integrated program with other service for dependent children maintained under the direction of the state agency;

(2) may subpoena witnesses and administer oaths, make rules, and take such action as may be necessary, or desirable for carrying out the provisions of Laws 1937, chapter 438. All rules made by the state agency shall be binding on the counties and shall be complied with by the respective county agencies;

(3) establish adequate standards for personnel employed by the counties and the state agency in the administration of Laws 1937, chapter 438, and make the necessary rules to maintain such standards;

(4) prescribe the form of and print and supply to the county agencies blanks for applications, reports, affidavits, and such other forms as it may deem necessary and advisable;

(5) cooperate with the federal government and its public welfare agencies in any reasonable manner as may be necessary to qualify for federal aid for aid to dependent children and in conformity with the provisions of Laws 1937, chapter 438, including the making of such reports and such forms and containing such information as the Federal Social Security Board may from time to time require, and comply with such provisions as such board may from time to time find necessary to assure the correctness and verification of such reports;

(6) may cooperate with other state agencies in establishing reciprocal agreements in instances where a child receiving aid to dependent children moves or contemplates moving into or out of the state, in order that such child may continue to receive supervised aid from the state moved from until the child shall have resided for one year in the state moved to;

(7) on or before October 1 in each even-numbered year make a biennial report to the governor concerning the activities of the agency; and

(8) enter into agreements with other departments of the state as necessary to meet all requirements of the federal government.

Subd. 4a. Technical assistance for immunization reminders. The state agency shall provide appropriate technical assistance to county agencies to develop methods to have county financial workers remind and encourage recipients of aid to families with dependent children, Minnesota family investment program-statewide, the Minnesota family investment plan, medical assistance, family general assistance, or food stamps whose assistance unit includes at least one child under the age of five to have each young child immunized against childhood diseases. The state agency must examine the feasibility of utilizing the capacity of a statewide computer system to assist county agency financial workers in performing this function at appropriate intervals.

Subd. 5. Gifts, contributions, pensions and benefits; acceptance. The commissioner shall have the power and authority to accept in behalf of the state contributions and gifts for the use and benefit of children under the guardianship or custody of the commissioner; the commissioner may also receive and accept on behalf of such children, and on behalf of patients and residents at the several state hospitals for persons with mental illness or mental retardation during the period of their hospitalization and while on provisional discharge therefrom, money due and payable to them as old age and survivors insurance benefits, veterans benefits, pensions or other such monetary benefits. Such gifts, contributions, pensions and benefits shall be deposited in and disbursed from the social welfare fund provided for in sections 256.88 to 256.92.

Subd. 6. Advisory task forces. The commissioner may appoint advisory task forces to provide consultation on any of the programs under the commissioner's administration and supervision. A task force shall expire and the compensation, terms of office and removal of members shall be as provided in section 15.059.

Subd. 7. Special consultant on aging. The commissioner of human services may appoint a special consultant on aging in the classified service. Within the limits of appropriations available therefor, the commissioner may appoint such other employees in the classified service as the commissioner deems necessary to carry out the purposes of Laws 1961, Chapter 466. Such special consultant and staff shall encourage cooperation among agencies, both public and private, including the departments of the state government, in providing services for the aging. They shall provide consultation to local social services agencies in developing local services for the aging, shall promote volunteer services programs and stimulate public interest in the problem of the aging.

Subd. 8. County services coordinators. Any county or group of counties acting through its or their local social services agency or agencies may designate a county services coordinator who shall coordinate services and activities, both public and private, that may further the well being of the aging and meet their social, psychological, physical and economic needs. The coordinator shall perform such other duties as the agency may direct to stimulate, demonstrate, initiate, and coordinate local public, private, and voluntary services within the county dedicated to providing the maximum opportunities for self help, independence, and productivity of individuals concerned. The agency may appoint a citizens advisory committee which shall advise the coordinator and the agency on the development of services and perform such other functions at the county level as are prescribed for the Minnesota board on aging at the state level. The members shall serve without compensation. Members of citizens advisory committees required by federal law for programs for the aging who receive federal money in payment for a portion of their actual expenses incurred in performance of their duties may receive the remaining portion from state money appropriated for programs for the aging.

Subd. 9. Staff assistance to the Minnesota board on aging. The board shall be provided staff assistance from the department of human services through the special consultant on aging, who shall serve as the executive secretary to the board and its committees.

Subd. 10. Authority to accept and disburse funds. The Minnesota board on aging is authorized to accept through the department of human services grants, gifts, and bequests from public or private sources for implementing programs and services on behalf of the aging, and to disburse funds to public and private agencies for the purpose of research, demonstration, planning, training, and service projects pertaining to the state's aging citizens.

Subd. 11. Centralized disbursement system. The state agency may establish a system for the centralized disbursement of food coupons, assistance payments, and related documents. Benefits shall be issued by the state or county and funded under this section according to section 256.025, subdivision 3, and subject to section 256.017.

Subd. 11a. Contracting with financial institutions. The state agency may contract with banks or other financial institutions to provide services associated with the processing of public assistance checks and may pay a service fee for these services, provided the fee charged does not exceed the fee charged to other customers of the institution for similar services.

Subd. 12. Child mortality review panel. (a) The commissioner shall establish a child mortality review panel for reviewing deaths of children in Minnesota, including deaths attributed to maltreatment or in which maltreatment may be a contributing cause. The commissioners of health, children, families, and learning, and public safety and the attorney general shall each designate a representative to the child mortality review panel. Other panel members shall be appointed by the commissioner, including a board-certified pathologist and a physician who is a coroner or a medical examiner. The purpose of the panel shall be to make recommendations to the state and to county agencies for improving the child protection system, including modifications in statute, rule, policy, and procedure.

(b) The commissioner may require a county agency to establish a local child mortality review panel. The commissioner may establish procedures for conducting local reviews and may require that all professionals with knowledge of a child mortality case participate in the local review. In this section, "professional" means a person licensed to perform or a person performing a specific service in the child protective service system. "Professional" includes law enforcement personnel, social service agency attorneys, educators, and social service, health care, and mental health care providers.

(c) If the commissioner of human services has reason to believe that a child's death was caused by maltreatment or that maltreatment was a contributing cause, the commissioner has access to not public data under chapter 13 maintained by state agencies, statewide systems, or political subdivisions that are related to the child's death or circumstances surrounding the care of the child. The commissioner shall also have access to records of private hospitals as necessary to carry out the duties prescribed by this section. Access to data under this paragraph is limited to police investigative data; autopsy records and coroner or medical examiner investigative data; hospital, public health, or other medical records of the child; hospital and other medical records of the child's parent that relate to prenatal care; and records created by social service agencies that provided services to the child or family within three years preceding the child's death. A state agency, statewide system, or political subdivision shall provide the data upon request of the commissioner. Not public data may be shared with members of the state or local child mortality review panel in connection with an individual case.

(d) Notwithstanding the data's classification in the possession of any other agency, data acquired by a local or state child mortality review panel in the exercise of its duties is protected nonpublic or confidential data as defined in section 13.02, but may be disclosed as necessary to carry out the purposes of the review panel. The data is not subject to subpoena or discovery. The commissioner may disclose conclusions of the review panel, but shall not disclose data that was classified as confidential or private data on decedents, under section 13.10, or private, confidential, or protected nonpublic data in the disseminating agency.

(e) A person attending a child mortality review panel meeting shall not disclose what transpired at the meeting, except to carry out the purposes of the mortality review panel. The proceedings and records of the mortality review panel are protected nonpublic data as defined in section 13.02, subdivision 13, and are not subject to discovery or introduction into evidence in a civil or criminal action against a professional, the state or a county agency, arising out of the matters the panel is reviewing. Information, documents, and records otherwise available from other sources are not immune from discovery or use in a civil or criminal action solely because they were presented during proceedings of the review panel. A person who presented information before the review panel or who is a member of the panel shall not be prevented from testifying about matters within the person's knowledge. However, in a civil or criminal proceeding a person shall not be questioned about the person's presentation of information to the review panel or opinions formed by the person as a result of the review meetings.

Subd. 13. Pilot project; protocols for persons lacking proficiency in English. The commissioner of human services shall establish pilot projects in Hennepin and Ramsey counties to provide language assistance to clients applying for or receiving aid through the county social service agency. The projects shall be designed to provide translation, in the five foreign languages that are most common to applicants and recipients in the pilot counties, to individuals lacking proficiency in English, who are applying for or receiving assistance under any program supervised by the commissioner of human services. As part of the project, the commissioner shall ensure that the Combined Application Form (CAF) is available in these five languages. The projects shall also provide language assistance to individuals applying for or receiving aid under programs which the department of human services operates jointly with other executive branch agencies, including all work and training programs operated under this chapter and chapter 256D. The purpose of the pilot projects is to ensure that information regarding a program is presented in translation to applicants for and recipients of assistance who lack proficiency in English. In preparing the protocols to be used in the pilot programs, the commissioner shall seek input from the following groups: advocacy organizations that represent non-English-speaking clients, county social service agencies, legal advocacy groups, employment and training providers, and other affected groups. The commissioner shall develop the protocols by October 1, 1995, and shall implement them as soon as feasible in the pilot counties. The commissioner shall report to the legislature by February 1, 1996, on the protocols developed, on the status of their implementation in the pilot counties, and shall include recommendations for statewide implementation.

Subd. 14. Child welfare reform pilots. The commissioner of human services shall encourage local reforms in the delivery of child welfare services and is authorized to approve local pilot programs which focus on reforming the child protection and child welfare systems in Minnesota. Authority to approve pilots includes authority to waive existing state rules as needed to accomplish reform efforts. Notwithstanding section 626.556, subdivision 10, 10b, or 10d, the commissioner may authorize programs to use alternative methods of investigating and assessing reports of child maltreatment, provided that the programs comply with the provisions of section 626.556 dealing with the rights of individuals who are subjects of reports or investigations, including notice and appeal rights and data practices requirements. Pilot programs must be required to address responsibility for safety and protection of children, be time limited, and include evaluation of the pilot program.

HIST: (3199-102, 8688-4) 1937 c 438 s 2; 1939 c 431 art 7 s 2(a)(c); 1943 c 7 s 1; 1943 c 177 s 1; 1943 c 570 s 1; 1943 c 612 s 1,2; 1949 c 40 s 1; 1949 c 512 s 5,6; 1949 c 618 s 1; 1949 c 704 s 1; 1951 c 330 s 1; 1951 c 403 s 1; 1951 c 713 s 27; 1953 c 30 s 1; 1953 c 593 s 2; 1955 c 534 s 1; 1955 c 627 s 1; 1955 c 847 s 21; 1957 c 287 s 3; 1957 c 641 s 1; 1957 c 762 s 1,2; 1957 c 791 s 1; 1959 c 43 s 1; 1959 c 609 s 1; 1961 c 466 s 3-6; 1963 c 794 s 1; 1967 c 122 s 1; 1967 c 148 s 2; 1969 c 365 s 1; 1969 c 493 s 2; 1969 c 703 s 1; 1969 c 1157 s 1; 1971 c 24 s 26; 1973 c 540 s 4; 1973 c 717 s 12; 1974 c 536 s 2; 1975 c 271 s 6; 1975 c 437 art 2 s 1; 1976 c 2 s 89; 1976 c 107 s 1; 1976 c 149 s 52; 1976 c 163 s 55; 1977 c 400 s 1; 1980 c 357 s 21; 1980 c 618 s 8; 1983 c 7 s 3; 1983 c 10 s 1; 1983 c 243 s 5 subd 3; 1983 c 312 art 5 s 3; 1984 c 654 art 5 s 21,58; 1985 c 21 s 48,49; 1985 c 248 s 70; 1Sp1985 c 14 art 9 s 15; 1986 c 444; 1987 c 270 s 1; 1987 c 343 s 1; 1987 c 403 art 2 s 60; art 3 s 2; 1988 c 689 art 2 s 121; 1988 c 719 art 8 s 1; 1989 c 89 s 5; 1989 c 209 art 1 s 22; 1989 c 282 art 2 s 111,112; 1990 c 568 art 4 s 84; 1991 c 292 art 3 s 6; art 5 s 6,7; 1994 c 631 s 31; 1995 c 178 art 2 s 1,2; 1Sp1995 c 3 art 16 s 13; 1997 c 7 art 2 s 40; 1997 c 85 art 4 s 8; art 5 s 2; 1997 c 203 art 5 s 4,5; 1997 c 225 art 4 s 1

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