The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

December 18, 2013

Outdated advisory boards could get chopped

ST. PAUL (AP) — A few dozen obscure and sometimes dormant advisory boards to Minnesota government could soon be axed as part of a legislative recommendation being formalized Wednesday.

A legislative panel was primed to seek the elimination of 37 advisory boards, councils and task forces. House Speaker Paul Thissen told the Pioneer Press that the targeted boards are either no longer necessary or redundant.

Most involve citizens or groups that volunteer their time or receive small stipends, so the action is not expected to save large sums. But state employees who arrange meetings or communicate with members can focus on other tasks,

Among the entities that could go if lawmakers approve the recommendation next year is the Nuclear Waste Council, which hasn't met since 1986. It was formed to assess Minnesota's stake in a federal debate over sites for a permanent repository for high-level radioactive waste. Congress took Minnesota off that list, but the council remained in existence simply because lawmakers didn't get around to scrapping it.

Also on the list: the County Subsurface Sewage Treatment System Advisory Committee, the Interagency Native Vegetation Task Force, the Laboratory Assessor Selection Committee and the Weed and Seed Grant Program Committee.

During the past four months, the Legislative Commission on Planning and Fiscal Policy reviewed the usefulness of 162 advisory groups in the executive branch.

Thissen said one goal was to "make sure we're not cluttering up the statutes with things that don't make sense."

Thissen, Rep. Mary Liz Holberg, R-Lakeville; Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson; and Sen. Katie Sieben, DFL-Cottage Grove, sorted through the advisory groups this fall.

The pruning fits with a goal Gov. Mark Dayton has set for the 2014 session: To eliminate unnecessary or redundant laws, rules and regulations and undo anything else that makes state government harder to understand or operate.

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