Rep. Steve Smith (R-33A)

The Legislative Commission on Pensions and Retirement (LCPR) was scheduled to meet for the first time today, Friday, April 8. The only agenda item was to select a chair. The chair rotates between the House and Senate. This year, it was the House’s turn to chair the commission.

“The commission consists of five members of the senate appointed by the Subcommittee on Committees of the Committee on Rules and Administration and five members of the house of representatives appointed by the speaker. Members shall be appointed at the commencement of each regular session of the legislature for a two-year term beginning January 16 of the first year of the regular session.” Minnesota Statutes, Section 3.85, Subd. 3

House Members are Republicans Mary Kiffmeyer (R-Big Lake), Morrie Lanning (R-Moorhead), and Steve Smith (R-Mound).  Democrat appointees are Phyllis Kahn (DFL-Minneapolis) and Mary Murphy (DFL-Hermantown).

Senate members are Republicans Roger Chamberlain (R-Lino Lakes), Ted Daley (R-Eagan) and Julie Rosen (R-Fairmont).  Democrat appointees are Sandy Pappas (D-St. Paul) and Lawrence Pogemiller (D-Minneapolis).

The meeting was to convene in Room 10 of the State Office Building. Shortly after noon, all the Democratic appointees took their seats along with Rep. Steve Smith. After 20  minutes, Rep. Mary Murphy (Vice Chair of the last commission) announced that there would not be a quorum for the meeting. Rep. Steve Smith then made a short speech chastising his Republican colleagues for not showing up.

He knew why his fellow Republicans were not present. Before the meeting, it became known that Rep. Smith and the four Democrats had agreed to nominate Smith to chair the LCPR. Smith did not have the support of his Republican colleagues. Smith’s alliance with the Democrats splits the commission 5-5 which made it impossible to elect a chair—at least today. Smith was not seen as the right person to bring leadership to the commission at a time when the public pension system is under review. Smith regularly votes with the Democrats on pension issues. Rather than work with his own party, he went to the Democrats in an attempt to get the chairmanship.

Rep. Smith is in his 11th term in the House (Taxpayers League rating for 2010 of 80, lifetime rating of 77).