Balance in Government
HB 11 – State Boards and Commissions Amendments
Rep. Norm Thurston introduced this bill, and it has now successfully passed the House and Senate. It is now headed to the Governor for his signature.
Rep. Norm Thurston
Why should you care? This bill would eliminate the political party affiliation requirement on 29 boards and committees. These boards and committees currently limit the number of members from one political party; eliminating this requirement would allow those seats to be filled without concern to political party. While some may argue this allows the “most qualified people” to sit on those boards and committees, we fear it would result in further imbalance of political voices.
This is not the first time something of this nature has happened. Last year, Rep. LaVar Christensen introduced HB 220, which added two additional Republicans to the Legislative Management Committee and the Legislative Audit Subcommittee. Rep. Christensen argued this more accurately reflected representation seen in the legislature; however, it further imbalanced those committees and resulted in a more partisan voice on those committees
Another argument coming from those who support HB 11 is that some committees and boards do not address issues of a political nature – livestock, for example – so why should there be a political party limit requirement? Well among the 29 boards and committees within the bill is the Public Service Commission. A draw to this commission is that members on this board receive full time pay, unlike the other boards and commissions affected by this bill, so it should not be hard to find members of various parties who would be want to be on this commission. Those on the Public Service Commission make important decisions regarding energy investments. Other boards and committees included in HB 11 are the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission, the Water Quality Board, and the Air Quality Board. Unfortunately the issues these boards and committees address have become divided along party lines, meaning an imbalance in party representation would result in imbalanced results to these issues.