BY: Geoff Pender

Here’s the problem: Let’s say lawmakers decided to consolidate the separate boards for barbers and cosmetologists. Heck, they could even go crazy and roll in the acupuncture and massage therapy boards — make it the “Board of Those Who Touch or Poke on People But Aren’t Doctors.” Trouble is, the 5,000 barbers in the state fear that the 20,000 cosmetologists would control things, or vice versa.

Elected officials don’t want 25,000 barbers and cosmetologists, and voting members of their families, mad at them — particularly in an election year. Throw in several hundred mad, voting massage therapists and acupuncturists, and you’ve got a grassroots lobby that can scare the heck out of any politician.

Reeves recently opined that at least the “back office” operations of small agencies, boards and commissions could be consolidated. There is likely great savings to be realized by consolidating office and meeting space, accounting, staff, etc. Most now have their own digs, apparently wherever they want, and ink their own contracts for accounting, legal and other services. The state Massage Therapy Board has headquarters in in downtown Morton.

In his study, Hosemann found about 70 percent of the state’s agencies, boards and commissions don’t have any means in state law of removing members from office. About 600 of them don’t have any specific term of office — essentially they’re appointed for life. Some boards, he said, can appoint their own replacements if a member resigns.

Hosemann has said: “We really have created almost a fourth branch of government, one that is self-perpetuating.”

That’s step one — identify the problem.

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