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Weekly Address — January 30, 2020

From the historic hallways of the most beautiful state Capitol in our nation, this is Senator Keith Ingram.

State agencies have done a good job of converting their operations to computers. You can renew your driver’s license online and you can submit your taxes online.

Pharmacists and hospitals submit Medicaid claims over the Internet. The Human Services Department no longer issues food stamps that are printed on paper. Instead they issue plastic cards with a magnetic strip, which work like debit and credit cards.

State agencies store enormous amounts of digital information, which the public can access using the Internet.

The legislature is constantly working to keep state government up to date with advances in communications technology.

Our next challenge is blending the digital information stored by various agencies, so that data can easily be shared.

That’s why we created the Data Sharing Task Force last year.

Here’s an example of the need for accurate and timely sharing of data. When a person applies for food stamps or Medicaid, DHS officials can instantly check on their eligibility with other agencies.

That person may already be collecting benefits in another state, or may be collecting unemployment.

Child support enforcement has gotten much more efficient, now that state officials have computers to track the employment of non-custodial parents. It’s a lot harder for deadbeats to skip out on payments by switching jobs.

Data sharing makes it easier for prison inmates to make the transition to the free world after they are released. That’s because they get credit for the adult education and votech classes they completed in prison.

The Data Sharing Task Force has submitted its recommendations. The legislature will use those recommendations to change policies, so that state agencies cooperate and share information.

The time is past for turf battles between state agencies.

From the Capitol, it is always my great honor and sincere privilege to serve you as your state Senator. This is Keith Ingram.


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