The House Business and Labor Standing Committee met on Wednesday (1/30/2019). Representative Kay Christofferson presented first substitute House Bill 51, Free Market Protection and Privatization Board Revisions. HB51 sought to change the size and membership of the Board, as well as other technical and conforming changes. The original version of HB51 removed the exemption on higher education from participating on the Board, however, this substitute did not include that provision.
HB51 reduces the size of the Board from 17 members to 11 members. Rep. Christofferson stated the 11 members will allow for greater participation and the ability for decisions to be made with a quorum present. The proposed Board would be comprised of 3 members from the Legislature, 1 member who represents the state’s largest public employee association (UPEA), 1 member who represents state management, 4 members to represent the private sector, and 2 members to represent the League of Cities and Towns as well as other special districts.
During the Committee hear some lawmakers were concerned with the Board’s perceived lack of power. These legislators want the Board to have more influence over the issues and agencies that come before it, rather than simply the power to make recommendations. Rep. Marc Roberts asked if “there is a plan to go through each agency step-by-step to deliberate whether it should be privatized.” Rep. Christofferson explained that the Board has already addressed the agencies and that while he is not against giving the Board more power, he also did not want to give the appearance that state government is encroaching on the public or private sector.
Todd Losser, Executive Director of UPEA, spoke on behalf of the bill and thanked Rep. Christofferson for his work in maintaining UPEA’s voice on the Board.
Ultimately, the lawmakers were split on whether they should favorably pass this bill out of committee. According to House Rules, if there is a tie, a motion fails. The bill may be heard in the committee in the future, and UPEA will continue to monitor HB51.