Minnesota Secretary Of State - Definitions
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Boards and commissions are groups of people usually defined by legislation to assist legislators in making decisions or regulate an industry.


A "position" is an umbrella term used to describe a group of seats available on a board or commission. Often the group has similar requirements, for example a board may need four doctors, in which case the position would be called "doctor" and the seats might be called "doctor #1, doctor #2, doctor #3, doctor #4". 

When you apply, you apply for a position and are automatically considered for any seat within that position that is currently available. Not all seats are appointed by the same appointing authority. A single position - or even a single seat, in the case of joint appointments - can have more than one appointing authority.

Open Appointment / Open Position

An "open appointment" or "open position" (also called "vacancies") refer to any position on a board or commission that is in need of a new member and open for public application. This may be because the person who has held that position has stepped down, or their term may have ended, or, the position is on a new board or commission. 

You can apply for any "open position" using the Boards & Commission website by see which positions are open.


A "term" refers to the amount of time a person spends as a member of a board or commission. Terms are usually four years, unless it is a task force which typically has two-year terms.


The "status" of a seat is referring to how close that seat is to nearing the member's end of term, or if it is open, if an appointment has been made yet. Most seats say “Filled”. If a seat has 45 days or less before its expiration date, a countdown will appear.

Seats that are open for application will say “Posted”. Expired seats that are not currently accepting applications will read “Past Term End”.

Publish Date

The "publish date" of an open appointment/position refers to when the open position became available to the public for application. Open positions are published weekly, every Friday. No appointment can be made until the 26th day after the publish date, pursuant to §15.0597, Subd. 5-6. (Applications cannot be reviewed until after the first twenty-one days of the vacancy. After the 21st day, no appointing authority may appoint someone to a vacant agency position until five days after receipt of the applications for positions.)

Appointing Authority

The appointing authority is the person that is responsible for deciding who is appointed to a seat. Usually this is a role, such as the Governor, Senate Majority Leader, Commissioner of Commerce, etc. There are 180+ current appointing authorities.

Supporting Entity

The managing agencies / departments which provide staff support and sometimes meeting space for boards are referred to as the “Supporting Entity”. Some boards are large enough (like the Board of Medical Practice) to have their own Executive Director and provide their own staff support.

Enabling Legislation

Most boards and commissions are established by a legislative act. You can find more information about the legislation that initiated the board or commission by reading the statute that enabled the board or commission.