One of the eye-popping things in the OLA’s report on the IRRRB, aka the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board, is that “State statutes on IRRRB’s governance structure are vulnerable to a constitutional challenge.”

Before answering that question, let’s gather some history of the IRRRB. According to the OLA’s report, the IRRRB “is a state agency that has focused on economic development of the Iron Range in northeast Minnesota since 1941.” Further, the OLA’s report states that the ” term ‘IRRRB’ refers to both the agency and the board overseeing it.” The next part starts explaining why the IRRRB likely is unconstitutional. The OLA’s report states that the “IRRRB is an agency in the executive branch led by a commissioner appointed by the governor. Yet, state law requires members of the agency’s board to be legislators and grants the board substantial power over the agency’s spending decisions.”

The OLA’s report then states that “This arrangement is vulnerable to a challenge under the Minnesota Constitution’s separation of powers clause and its prohibition against legislators holding another public office. We base our conclusion on our review of the plain language of the Minnesota Constitution, historical context from the state constitutional conventions, and opinions from the Minnesota Supreme Court and Attorney General.”

The fact that the OLA’s conclusion is based on Minnesota’s constitution, the Minnesota Supreme Court precedents and Minnesota’s Attorney General means this isn’t a partisan shot at the IRRRB. I might dismiss the conclusion if Republicans brought the subject up. Jim Nobles, who has been serving Minnesota as the Legislative Auditor since 1983, is considered one of the few nonpartisan people in government.

Not surprisingly, that’s just part of the IRRRB’s problems. Check back later today for more of the IRRRB’s troubles.

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