ST. PAUL (AP) -- Rep. Phil Krinkie wants to remove lawmakers from the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board and other local boards.
He points to Article Three of the state Constitution -- the separation of powers -- and says it's a conflict of interest for lawmakers to serve on executive boards.
"The power of the Legislature is vested in the power of appropriation," he said. "The executive branch determines specifically how that money is spent."
So Krinkie is sponsoring a bill that would kick legislators off of local advisory boards across the state including IRRRB, the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission and the St. Anthony Falls Heritage Board.
But Iron Range-area lawmakers strongly defended the makeup of the IRRRB, saying the northeastern Minnesota agency and board are special cases and that lawmakers provide needed continuity for development efforts.
"We see a lot of these projects grow out of an IRRRB process or a state process. The continuity of being in on the state level and then on a regional level is very important," said board member Rep. Tony Sertich, DFL-Chisholm.
Currently the IRRRB consists of 10 state lawmakers and three legislatively appointed citizen members. The 13 members sit on a board governed by a commissioner, whom Gov. Tim Pawlenty has yet to appoint.
A co-sponsor of Krinke's bill, Rep. Tony Kielkucki, R-Lester Prairie, said legislators with advisory council ties are less objective and are more likely to promote their commissioner's agenda on the House or Senate floor.
"When you actually have to vote it can make things pretty difficult," Kielkucki said.
But because the commissioner and governor have to approve spending decisions along with the board, IRRRB lawmakers said they have no executive powers.
Originally, the IRRRB was designed as a purely legislative committee to put the taconite industry's tax dollars to work on the Iron Range. But in 2001, the Legislature voted to place three citizens on the board.
Former IRRRB Commissioner John Swift said limiting the board's membership to private citizens could hurt northeastern Minnesota's economic influence at the Capitol.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.