A state senator is seeking clarification from the Nebraska Attorney General's Office on whether or not a recently confirmed member of the Board of Health was barred from serving because he also sits on a committee responsible for nominating judges.
Omaha Sen. Megan Hunt requested the opinion from Attorney General Doug Peterson on Thursday, a day after the Legislature confirmed the appointment of Bud Synhorst to the state Board of Health on a 37-7 vote.
Synhorst, the president and CEO of the Lincoln Independent Business Association, was nominated by Gov. Pete Ricketts late last year to a five-year term on the health board filling a position reserved for the general public.
The Legislature confirmed the appointment of Synhorst, a former executive director of the Nebraska Republican Party, over the objection of Democratic senators who raised questions about his impartiality and qualifications.
Hunt raised the question of Synhorst's dual appointments during floor debate Wednesday, saying they could violate Article II of the state constitution, which "prohibits one branch of government from encroaching on the duties and prerogatives of the others."
In her letter to the attorney general, Hunt cited a 1991 Nebraska Supreme Court decision that held a sitting state senator could not hold a teaching position at Wayne State College, which it said was part of the executive branch.
The lawmaker asked Peterson if Synhorst's appointment to both boards was consistent with the Supreme Court's ruling, as well as with subsequent AG's opinions.
Hunt also sought guidance on the available remedies to potentially remove Synhorst from either board if the AG found the appointment was determined to be improper.
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