HomeTop StoriesThe filibuster is coming to Minnesota

The filibuster is coming to Minnesota

Sen. Eric Lucero, R-St. Michael and several GOP members protest procedural rules on the Senate floor as the 2024 session comes to a close. Photo by AJ Olmscheid, Senate Media Services.

The Senate filibuster is one of the worst features of modern American governance and a major cause of federal dysfunction. It creates a supermajority requirement never intended, slowing the government down to the pace of cold honey. It also eliminates real accountability, because it allows the majority of the U.S. Senate to raise its hands and blame the filibuster for inaction, while allowing the minority to blame the majority for problems whose solutions are the minority’s own. blocked.

Unfortunately, the Senate, known as the most exclusive club in the world, is very resistant to change no matter who is in charge, so this anti-democratic evil lives on, and the public doesn’t know or care.

Unfortunately, the filibuster – or a weak tea version of it – has arrived in Minnesota.

This is a rare column in which I don’t assign blame, or at least I would say everyone should share some blame for the red tape that marked the end of the recent legislative session. The Democrats tried to push their agenda, and the Republicans wanted to stop them. Sure, it got ugly, but we are a polarized country and a polarized state, and that’s to be expected.

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Republicans in the House of Representatives and the Senate continued in an apparent attempt to prevent Democratic majorities from passing their bills. For example, Senate Democrats say that two debates on some relatively minor changes to the cannabis legalization law lasted a total of twelve hours. Same with the judiciary.

On the House side, DFL researchers have a video of Republicans who waste a lot of everyone’s time talking about cheeseburgers. (Based on the quick-cut video, they usually have terrible taste in burgers, but maybe it was an editing trick.)

That said, Democrats had the entire session to get their job done, but they didn’t. So they had to cram everything into a 1,430-page bill and pass it in the final moments of the session, while Republicans shouted at the podiums like drunken spectators at a ball game.

The Senate was on hold for a work week after the Easter holidays because one of its members, Sen. Nicole Mitchell, DFL-Woodbury, was arrested, and Democrats did not want to deal with a media frenzy. And they barely met on the last Saturday of the session as Sen. Omar Fateh, DFL-Minneapolis, used his considerable influence — Democrats’ one-seat majority means any of them can stop anything — to negotiate the best deal which he could achieve at a minimum. pay for Uber and Lyft drivers.

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Most of them were a few days before Reformer team gathered in the Capitol, but the place felt strangely empty. The Senate had pulled an all-nighter the night before, so they were unable to get anything done. I always came up with great ideas during my college nights, but we should all be thankful that they didn’t become law.

Senate Majority Leader Erin Murphy, a St. Paul Democrat who once served in the same role in the House of Representatives, said Democrats in the House are strongly considering time limits for next year’s debates, which is common in across the country and in the U.S. House of Representatives. Although current rules allow the majority to end debate with a parliamentary maneuver known as moving the previous question, Speaker of the House Melissa Hortman calls this “the nuclear option,” and it is rarely used.

Murphy called Republican behavior “extraordinary filibustering beyond the norms of the Legislature.”

Interestingly, she appeared to tell the press about possible rule changes before briefing Senate Minority Leader Mark Johnson, R-East Grand Forks.

The proportions seem terribly cold.

Johnson called the filibustering charge “ridiculous,” pointing to Democrats’ inability to manage their legislative agenda. He called Murphy’s leadership of the session “hyper-partisan” and said it was the real cause of the delay.

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Murphy claimed that Johnson refused to negotiate on anything: “In every conversation I had, the goal I kept hearing was, ‘Let’s go home.'”

Johnson told me that if the minority cannot use parliamentary tactics, we will have more of a winner-takes-all environment, where majorities can pass their agenda without minority input.

Which, for the most part, suits me just fine. Elections must have consequences. Otherwise, voters won’t know how to hold the government accountable. If policies don’t work, voters need to know who to blame.

Abolishing endless debates has other, more concrete benefits. It would allow the press and public to actually witness the sessions, which is more likely if they don’t take place in the middle of the night. (To her credit, Hortman rarely allows sessions to extend past midnight, but even that is far too late.)

Finally, legislative staff and the people who keep the Capitol clean and safe should not be forced to work endless hours because of parliamentary delays.

If we end the debates at a reasonable time, lawmakers can enjoy a cheeseburger together. Throw in a martini and a weed gummy, and who knows what solutions to the world’s problems they can come up with together.

The post The filibuster is coming to Minnesota appeared first on Minnesota Reformer.

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