Weather Forecast


Bill to shift streamlining job to employees

ST. PAUL -- The Senate leader's proposal to abolish two state departments and trim another, while also cutting the number of political appointees throughout state government, met opposition from within his own party.

However, it gained support from unions that would not be affected.

The bill by Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller, DFL-Minneapolis, also would turn over most reorganization duties to employees. Governors now are responsible for major changes.

New governors "get caught up in the struggles between finance committees and departments and commissioners that make it hard to move the ball during their short times in office," Pogemiller said. "Real change only takes place if the people doing the work create the change."

Among the bill's provisions is one that orders the governor to reduce the number of deputy commissioners, assistant commissioner and other political employees.

That did set well with Sen. Terri Bonoff, DFL-Minnetonka. "I am not a fan of micromanagement, telling the governor that he or she must reduce so many positions."

Sen. Thomas Bakk, DFL-Cook, expressed concern about getting rid of agencies. In the past, smaller agencies consumed by larger ones sometimes have their efforts diluted in the process, he said.

And Gov. Tim Pawlenty did not like the concept: "I just don't think it is a good idea to turn over the keys of state government to unelected bureaucrats."

The Pogemiller bill would abolish the Department of Employment and Economic Development and Labor and Industry Department. It also would eliminate part of the Commerce Department's duties.

While the bill passed one committee Wednesday, it has more committee stops to make before reaching a full Senate vote.

Davis is employed by Forum Communications, which also owns the Daily Globe.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.