Yet another newspaper's editorial board passed judgment on Minnesota's fractured lawmaking. Just across the Red River in Grand Forks, ND, editor Tom Dennis writes in a signed editorial, How Minnesota can end last-minute lawmaking, for the Herald:
Will Gov. Mark Dayton reconvene the Minnesota Legislature in special session? Will Republican lawmakers agree to the Democratic governor's conditions?
As of this writing, the answers to those questions still are not clear.
But here's what the recent session did make clear—as clear as the water from the most sparkling of the 10,000 lakes:
Minnesota's legislative process needs reform.
Delaying negotiations for weeks, then running major bills back and forth just before the session's close is a shameful way of doing business. It makes Minnesotans cynical and pollutes their view of lawmakers and the legislative process.
It's got to be changed—and sooner rather than later, given Minnesota's severe highway and other stubborn problems. Streamlining the legislative process would both force lawmakers to get their work done sooner and boost congeniality by encouraging compromise and discouraging last-minute, partisan theatrics.
The paper's editorials are always signed, and Dennis goes on to recommend reforms promoted by the self-named "Purple Caucus:"
The bipartisan group of state senators—a group that includes state Sen. LeRoy Stumpf, DFL-Plummer, plus another Democrat and four Republicans—"wants to end last minute lawmaking,' the Minnesota Senate Republican Caucus noted last month.
"They have proposed adding a new legislative deadline for conference committee reports to be released one week prior to adjournment."
Here's how State Sen. Kevin Dahle, DFL-Northfield, explained the reform in a statement of his own.
"The Minnesota Constitution is very clear on when the Legislature must finish its work," Dahle wrote.
"We have no excuse for not having bills ready in time. High-level, secret negotiations in the last hours of session do an injustice to the constitutional democracy I teach high school students about in my role as a civics teacher.
"(So) I am a strong supporter of what has become known as the 'Fourth Deadline' idea, sponsored by the bipartisan Purple Caucus, which would put a bright clear line on the calendar. It would force elected officials to give their colleagues, the press and the public enough time to read the bills thoughtfully and come to a responsible conclusion before session ends. . . .
Read the rest at the Grand Fork Herald. While Grand Forks isn't in Minnesota, the border city newpaper carries a lot of Minnesota local and state news.
The paper's editorial joins editorials and staff commentary from the Morris Sun Tribune (see our post Morris editor calls out Speaker when Daudt asks Minnesota to ignore ugly process of session) and the Crookston Times that opined Speaker Kurt Daudt's like "a college kid partying like rock star all night long" (while still hoping for a make-up test in that 8 a.m. class he asked the prof to cancel). The editors aren't pulling any punches.
Photo: Speaker Daudt in a last-minute pout.
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