Don’t vote for your friends

The state Legislature should cap the number of ex-lawmakers on the Board.

Daily Editorial Board

Votes on new members for the University of MinnesotaâÄôs Board of Regents have long been drawn on party lines, but new legislation may help keep that level of partisanship down.

A bill that would cap the number of former lawmakers to one on the board is being mulled over by committees in both the state Senate and House.

The latest regents selections put Steven Sviggum and Laura Brod, two former Republican legislators, on the board.

State Sen. Sandra Pappas, DFL-St. Paul, claims party politics were in full play in this normally bipartisan process, asserting that the former representative and the former Speaker of the House were not as qualified as other candidates. Pappas authored the senate bill.

Throughout the process, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have rather nepotistically noted that it is hard to vote against friends and former colleagues. This bill limiting the number of legislators on the board would force them to do just that.

Pappas doesnâÄôt expect the Republican majority to grant her bill a hearing in the Senate Higher Education Committee, but we still urge the Senate to follow the HouseâÄôs lead.

As this editorial board has said before, the Board of Regents is a serious governing body, not a high school student council where itâÄôs acceptable to just vote for your friends.

ItâÄôs not that former legislators donâÄôt make fine candidates, but rather that the process shouldnâÄôt be marred by partisan politics. This bill is a more than welcome idea that will ultimately benefit students by making sure the Regents have the UniversityâÄôs âÄî not the LegislatureâÄôs âÄî best interest at heart.