“I’ve never seen a session this badly mismanaged. I’ve never seen a session less transparent. I’ve never seen a session more beholden to special interests,” –Governor Mark Dayton on the recent legislative session.
“A plague a' both your houses!” –Mercutio, Romeo and Juliet
Amen. The Governor and the Republican legislative leadership can point fingers all they want, but I say it cuts both ways. Republicans lard up bills with provisions they know the Governor will veto, and the Governor waits until the last minute to promote “emergency” funding for schools. Why does it always end up this way, a game of last minute chicken? Well, it wasn’t always this way. I remember when people used to work together to get thinks done for the greater good, but in recent years with more partisan wrangling, those days are gone.
Assuming the Governor follows through with his threat to veto the Omnibus bill, or parts of it, the list of things that didn’t get done is long: elder abuse prevention, tax conformity, distracted driving enhanced penalties, and no action on sensible gun safety laws which most support, to name a few.
It gets worse. Legislative leaders dumped a document with over 900 pages before the legislature two hours before adjournment with no time to review the provisions, nor offer amendments. This kind of stunt directly violates the single subject provision of the Minnesota Constitution:
Article IV, Section 17, of the Minnesota Constitution states: “No law shall embrace more than one subject, which shall be expressed in its title.”
So what is the remedy? Is it too much to ask that the Governor and the legislative leadership sit down before the session and outline their priorities? That they try to find common ground? That they agree to adhere to the Constitutional requirement that bills embrace only a single subject, and let the bill pass or fail on its merit? That they develop a legislative agenda schedule, allow time for hearings and floor votes, and stick to it? That they actually COMPROMISE?
This fall candidates will be asking for your vote. Ask them if they will adhere to the principle of putting all cards on the table and working across the isle to get things done for Minnesotans. Ask them if they will adhere to the requirement of the Constitution to stick to the single subject rule. If they can’t or won’t pledge to do this, then for the sake of good government, throw the bums out.
Randall Bachman is a retired health and human services administrator, a former school board member, and an advocate for persons with disabilities. He lives in Afton.
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