A bill introduced in the Minnesota Legislature would change the makeup of the board that oversees an Iron Range economic development agency.
Current state law provides a seat on the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board to lawmakers from districts with at least half their territory in the designated taconite assistance area. But because of population loss and redistricting, that standard can no longer be met.
Rep. Carly Melin, DFL-Hibbing, is proposing to reduce the minimum territory to one-third, and to eliminate the three seats appointed by the governor and the leader of each legislative chamber.
"The purpose for doing that is we spend tens of millions of dollars at the IRRRB," Melin said. "I think it's really important our board members are accountable to the public through the electoral process."
But Dave Chura of Duluth Township, who just wrapped up two years on the board, said having constituents serve is a good idea.
"They can offer valuable insight, and expertise, and kind of that outside perspective," Chura said. "I just don't see what the harm or threat is. They're still accountable. The public expects you to be able to justify your actions and decisions."
IRRRB Commissioner Tony Sertich said the agency needs the situation resolved so a board can be seated and approve funding for projects.