ST. PAUL, MN – During debate Tuesday on the House State Government Finance Omnibus bill (SF2227), Rep. Sandy Layman (R-Cohasset) successfully championed bipartisan reforms to Minnesota state agency hiring practices following recent controversy at the Department of Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation (IRRR). Layman and Rep. Rob Ecklund (DFL-International Falls) successfully offered amendments to the bill to bring greater integrity and transparency to state agency hiring processes.
“It’s important that the legislature makes these changes to help ensure an embarrassing hiring incident like this doesn’t happen again,” Layman said. “I believe this is a strong first step in reforming and restoring the integrity of our state agency hiring practices. I will continue to look at other ways to repair these processes and make sure Minnesota is free of cronyism.”
The Ecklund amendment requires a commissioner to ensure that all hiring for managerial positions is done through a fair and open process where all qualified candidates are given full consideration. It also states that job requirements cannot be altered to fit a particular candidate and that internal documents may not identify a particular candidate as the holder of the position prior to their official hiring.
Layman's amendment to the Ecklund amendment would codify an announced policy change from Gov. Walz to require that vacant positions be posted and applications can be accepted for a period of at least 21 days before the position is filled. Any deviations from this policy would require a waiver and public notice of the waiver to be published within 14 days in the State Register. Both Layman's amendment and the underlying Ecklund amendment were adopted into the State Government Finance bill on voice votes.
The IRRR has received intense public scrutiny in recent weeks following a report from the Timberjay newspaper detailing questionable hiring moves by the agency in hiring former legislator and 8th Congressional District candidate Joe Radinovich to a top post that pays more than $100,000 per year.
Approved by both the House and Senate, SF2227 will now head to conference committee where differences in each body’s legislation will be reconciled. Last week, the Senate approved similar language to address agency hiring.