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Departing human services chief recommends splitting agency

August 30, 2019

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — In one of her last official actions, Minnesota’s acting human services commissioner is recommending that her troubled agency be split in two.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that Pam Wheelock told staff in an email Friday that the Department of Human Services should split off its health care system that deals with mental health, addiction and other treatment services. The department is Minnesota’s largest state agency. Some lawmakers say it’s too big.

Gov. Tim Walz hired Wheelock, a former state finance commissioner, to stabilize the agency after the abrupt departure of Commissioner Tony Lourey. Her replacement, Jodi Harpstead, starts next week.

Walz told the Pioneer Press splitting the agency warrants “a good hard look.”

Meanwhile, the Star Tribune reports that another top official has resigned, Assistant Commissioner Marie Zimmerman.

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Information from: St. Paul Pioneer Press, http://www.twincities.com

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