In 1978, the Legislature authorized the Open Appointments Act, following an initiative started by Governor Perpich in 1977. This bill provided for an open appointment process for all state governmental agencies, including boards, commissions, and councils. The open appointments process allowed equal opportunity and participation in these agencies so that all citizens could become active members. The law requires the Secretary of State to announce each vacancy and make the application available to the general public. The applications are then referred to the specific agency seeking appointments and the Secretary of State maintains appointment records of each state agency. Data collection on the composition of boards was required as part of the law, but some data, including gender, was published 'only if the member has voluntarily supplied the information.' In 1991, a bill was introduced that would have required gender balance on all boards and commissions, but it did not pass (Senate file 768).
The Act gives all people an equal opportunity to apply and be considered for appointment to state-funded multi-member boards and agencies. The new process as authorized by the 1978 legislature simplified and opened up the appointment procedures. As a result of the legislation, during the first five years of the law's enactment there was an increase of appointed women in state agencies from 29 percent to 33 percent. Local governing bodies such as cities, counties, school districts and townships continue to have their own appointment processes.
Open Commissions and Appointments. Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State. OESW Legislative Summary, 1978.