Greetings, everyone. I wanted you to know about some of the news here in St. Paul.
The Rules of the Minnesota House
This past week has been busy at the Minnesota House of Representatives. The first committee meetings have begun, and many bills have been introduced. However, before we can vote on actual bills and legislation, we must first vote on the rules which govern the Minnesota House. These rules determine how the House functions and operates. On Thursday, we voted to approve the proposed permanent rules by a margin of 104-27.
I was one of the representatives who voted against adopting the proposed permanent rules. In the end, the rules did not include several important measures that I believe are necessary for effective lawmaking by the Minnesota House of Representatives. Let me discuss two examples.
First, I authored an amendment to the rules which would waive what is known as the “24-hour rule.” This rule states that any amendments to any legislation must be filed and publicly posted 24 hours before the House meets to discuss the legislation. I wanted to eliminate this rule because it destroys spontaneity in the Minnesota House and gives lobbyists more influence.
Representatives should be allowed to amend legislation on the floor. When amendments are required to be publicly posted 24 hours prior to session, lobbyists always go through these amendments and attempt to crush those they dislike. We are not here to serve lobbyists; we are here to serve you. Additionally, allowing representatives to author amendments on the floor would raise the level of debate in the House. Unfortunately, my amendment to eliminate the 24-hour rule was not adopted.
The second rule which should have been included in the permanent rules was a provision to prevent the construction of massive omnibus bills. Minnesota’s Constitution requires that all legislation relate to only one subject. This is known as the “single subject rule.” However, state legislators and justices of the Minnesota Supreme Court have found ways to avoid real enforcement of the single subject rule. As a result, legislators construct omnibus bills that contain hundreds of proposals. How is a legislator supposed to vote on an omnibus bill if it contains 100 proposals the legislator likes and another 100 proposals that they do not like?
As such, I supported an amendment to the permanent rules which would prevent committees in the Minnesota House from combining bills into huge omnibus bills. Unfortunately, this amendment was not adopted.
The Minnesota Legislature needs to develop a better legislative process. The rules as they were proposed did not create a better process. Therefore, I voted against the proposed permanent rules.