Future of the IRRRB

Structure of the IRRRB in question

Republican lawmakers in the Minnesota House are taking aim at a state agency that invests in the Iron Range and whose structure was called into question earlier this year.

The Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board doles out grants and loans meant to spur economic development and diversify an Iron Range economy that largely rely on the iron ore industry.

The current board is made up of nine Iron Range legislators.

Representative Tom Hackbarth’s measure would replace the board with a nine member commission made up of legislators and citizens from around the state.

The IRRRB and Iron Range legislators oppose the changes saying they’re politically motivated.

They say only minor changes to the board are necessary to alleviate concerns over the board’s constitutionality.

Rep. Tom Hackbarth said, “The bill is here primarily because we want to give some clarity, some transparency and accountability to what’s happening with the money that’s moving through the IRRRB.”

“The agency is financially audited regularly and they have never had even a blemish on a financial audit. So this is not a question of any money going anywhere like that,” said IRRRB commissioner Mark Phillips.

The committee approved the bill by a ten to five vote.

However, there is no companion bill in the Senate.

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