Politicians made to wait

A bill would add a waiting period before state legislators become regents.

Daily Editorial Board

Recently, the Minnesota Daily Editorial Board criticized the politicization of the Board of Regents. One regent, Steve Sviggum, has a role in the state Senate Republican Caucus, and another, Laura Brod, was questionably apppointed to the board only months after leaving the state Senate. In our opinion, these cases represent potential conflicts of interest and concerns for lack of transparency in the governance of the state’s flagship university.
Late last week, Rep. Kate Knuth, DFL-New Brighton, introduced a bill at the Capitol to address these concerns. In response to growing unease about recent actions by both state legislators and the Board of Regents, Knuth has put forth a plan requiring state legislators to take a two-year waiting period before taking a post as regent. We welcome this bill and hope that the state Legislature takes this opportunity to protect the University of Minnesota from further politicization.
This waiting period makes sense in numerous ways. Continued politicization in University governance chips away at the University’s long history of autonomy from state government, where politics is the order of the day. A legislator to regent free-for-all fails to protect the University from the partisan divisions and lacks the transparency needed to properly guarantee the qualifications and commitment a potential regent may have to the University outside of the patronage so common in political circles.
Knuth has offered an opportunity for the Legislature to safeguard the state’s premier public institution from the political discord found too often in Minnesota’s political institutions.