The Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board doesn’t often make rules on its own. You could count the number of times they’ve done so over the past 21 years on one hand.
As amended, the bill states that “the board may only adopt rules that (1) incorporate specific changes set forth in applicable statutes when no interpretation of law is required, or (2) make changes to rules that do not alter the sense, meaning, or effect of a rule.” Other changes would require legislative approval.
The House Government Operations and Elections Policy Committee approved the bill Tuesday on an 11-6 roll-call, party-line vote and sent it to the House State Government Finance Committee. The companion, SF839, sponsored by Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer (R-Big Lake), awaits action by the Senate Finance Committee.
In adopting O’Driscoll’s delete-all amendment, the committee put the rulemaking ban into a bill largely filled with noncontroversial housekeeping changes that O’Driscoll, the committee chair, said the board supports.
But the board has problems with that proposed ban. In a resolution adopted unanimously March 1, the board said “amendments designed to curtail the Board’s rulemaking authority will impair its ability to carry out its functions under Minnesota Statutes 10A and 211B in a consistent manner to the benefit of the regulated community and the public.”
Executive Director Jeff Sigurdson said making rules allows the board to provide consistent guidelines based on its expertise.
“By taking the ability for them to make rules and adjust what they have to do in case something new comes out, it’s sort of like letting the fox guard the henhouse,” said Rep. Michael Nelson (DFL-Brooklyn Park).
“The fox created the henhouse,” O’Driscoll said. “The Legislature created the campaign finance board and has legislative jurisdiction over the henhouse.”
The board’s main responsibilities are for campaign finance registration and disclosure, public subsidy administration, lobbyist registration and disclosure, and economic interest disclosure by public officials. By law, the six-member board, appointed by the governor and confirmed by the House and Senate, cannot have more than three members of any one party.
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