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State could see 440 fewer board appointments

State could see 440 fewer board appointments

November 5th, 2017 by Bob Watson in Local News

If lawmakers and state officials follow all the recommendations of a 28-page task force report released last week, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens and future governors will have approximately 440 fewer appointments to make to state boards and commissions.

Greitens has often said — and repeated in a news release Wednesday announcing the final report of his Boards and Commissions Task Force — government is "too big, too slow and works too poorly" to serve Missourians' needs.

The governor sees some of that coming from more than 200 Missouri boards and commissions that regulate some professions and oversee some government operations and regulations.

Greitens formed the 12-member task force last April to review those boards' and commissions' work.

In his executive order, the governor noted "eliminating, consolidating or restructuring some boards and commissions could improve Missourians' lives by removing barriers to pursuing professions or providing services (and) could save taxpayer dollars and reduce the size and scope of government."

Greitens said in his Wednesday statement accompanying the release of the task force's report: "With these recommendations, the task force took an important first step to shrink the size of government and make it work better for people."

Lt. Gov. Mike Parson co-chaired the panel along with Scott Turk, Greitens' Boards and Commissions director.

In his own release, Parson said: "The Task Force has done a terrific job of recommending needed change to our state's 200-plus boards and commissions and conducted itself in a professional manner throughout the process."

State Sen. Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, said Friday he's read the report.

"The task force did not linger at the periphery, but rather made recommendations for substantial and meaningful change," Kehoe said. "I look forward to further discussing and implementing as many changes as possible to make state government more efficient and reduce the burden on small businesses."

Rep. Sara Walsh, R-Ashland — who just joined the Legislature after winning a special election in August, for the 50th District that covers northern Moniteau, southern Boone, northwestern Cole and southeastern Cooper counties — said: "Throughout my district, Missourians have sent me a clear message that they are strongly supportive of efforts to streamline our state government."

Rep. David Wood, R-Versailles, whose district includes southwestern Cole County, southern Moniteau County and most of Morgan County, said: "Too many times we create committees in our legislation that will serve a single purpose but then never meet again.

"I believe that it is the right thing to shrink government — but I am not sure that there will be any budgetary savings or red tape eliminated since many of the committees that were dissolved have not met for years."

The task force included five lawmakers: Sens. Jeanie Riddle, R-Mokane, and Jacob Hummel, D-St. Louis, and Reps. Gretchen Bangert, D-Florissant, Robert Ross, R-Yukon, and Jared Taylor, R-Nixa.

Riddle told the News Tribune: "It was evident that there were many duplicative boards and commissions. In addition, many had served their purpose and were no longer necessary; appointments to these groups are no longer needed."

Heidi Kolkmeyer, who had been the Senate Republicans' senior policy director until she was promoted last month to be Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard's chief of staff, was Richard's third appointee on the task force.

The other four members were John Ghirardelli, David Moore, Peggy Striler and Ben Shantz.

The final report was approved unanimously by the members attending the Oct. 26 meeting.

At the beginning of its report, the task force said it worked to:

Eliminate boards and commissions that are not meeting.

Examine department fees and lower them where possible.

Examine whether the boards and commissions make the best possible use of members' time — especially when it comes to overnight stay and travel.

Eliminate and consolidate advisory committees and any redundant boards.

Create overarching boards in departments where doing so is logical and efficient.

Explore attendance at board and commission meetings and the ability to meet quorum requirements — as well as the process to remove appointees who fail to participate.

The task force held seven meetings from April through last month, and took a survey of the boards and commissions.

The surveys questions included the last time the board met, the last time an action was taken, how the board or commission generates revenue and how much it spends.

"I believe now is the appropriate time to have a conversation about the size of many of these groups," Riddle said.

"Too often, the size of many of these boards and commissions make it difficult for these groups to effectively conduct their business."

The report noted some boards and commissions are required by Missouri's Constitution or federal law.

There were no findings, comments or recommendations for the state's Conservation, Transportation and Higher Education departments.

In the Economic Development Department, the task force said it "decided to forgo any investigation into boards handling tax credits," including the Missouri Housing Development Commission and state Development Finance Board, since Greitens has created a separate task force to look at tax credits.

Riddle said: "I also saw many boards and commissions that serve important roles but perhaps don't need to have appointments made by the governor, but rather by industry or department leaders.

"We need to maintain the effective and functioning boards and commissions so that the bureaucracy of state government doesn't go too far in regulating their industries."

In many cases, the Legislature will have to change state laws to make the changes recommended by the task force.