Skip to main content Skip to office menu Skip to footer
Minnesota Legislature

Reform possibilities forwarded

Recommendations sent forth by a House committee are intended to improve the legislative process, even if members couldn’t agree on a process to submit the suggestions.

The House Governmental Operations, Reform, Technology and Elections Committee agreed to submit a document to legislative leaders, with a recommendation that the 2009 Legislature consider some of the changes. “The changes in this report come from ideas suggested from a variety of sources: House members, lobbyists and members of the public,” it states.

However, it also states that the ideas were discussed, but not voted upon, by the committee. That disappointed some members, including Rep. Jeanne Poppe (DFL-Austin) and Rep. Mark Olson (IR-Big Lake), who suggested that votes should be taken on the different ideas. There was also talk of somehow noting which items lacked unanimity, but that did not occur.

“This is just a guide,” said Rep. Gene Pelowski Jr. (DFL-Winona), the committee chair. “Any action will have to occur after the election with whoever is in charge.” He also reminded members that a single change could have a ripple effect, sometimes big.

Among the recommendations under the committee structure heading:
• House and Senate committees with similar jurisdiction should facilitate joint hearings;
• each House member should serve on fewer committees, which would be accomplished by having fewer committees and fewer members on each committee;
• all committees should have jurisdiction over both policy and finance matters; and
• members should be permitted to designate one or more bills as priority bills, with a requirement that committees hear and vote on them, provided there is a Senate companion.

Rep. Neil Peterson (R-Bloomington) questioned if that would be practical, to which Pelowski admitted it could be hard for a large committee. Rep. Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park) suggested it would be worth a try, adding that “to the extent possible” could be added to the item.

Potential floor procedure changes include:
• amendments must be pre-filed and made available to the public before consideration;
• time limits for debate, and limiting the number of times a member can speak on an issue;
• bills should be taken up in the order published on a calendar; and
• prohibiting the House from meeting after midnight.

The recommendations also suggest that conference committees meet at times that would encourage more public participation, and that they do all their work in public instead of emerging from behind closed doors saying a deal has been reached.

Related Articles

Priority Dailies

State Fair poll shows steady support for gun sale background checks, recreational marijuana
Support for criminal background checks on all gun sales and the legalization of marijuana for recreational use appears to have remained steady among Minnesotans during the past 12 months.
Governor signs special session budget bills into law
One week after a marathon special session that saw lawmakers pass most of the major budget bills needed to fund the state’s government over the next two years, Gov. Tim Walz signed the legislation into law.
After sunrise, the sun sets on 2019 special session
It took a grueling special session that stretched past sunrise, but Minnesota lawmakers completed their work early Saturday morning on passing a new two-year state budget.
House DFL outlines $47.8 billion 2020-21 spending proposal
The plan, dubbed the “Minnesota Values Budget,” would increase spending by $416.9 million over the 2020-21 biennium’s projected base budget.
Budget forecast: Projected surplus drops by almost $500 million, still tops $1 billion
The state has a $1.05 billion projected budget surplus for the upcoming biennium, Minnesota Management and Budget officials announced Thursday.
Walz budget would raise gas tax, emphasize education, health care
Education, health care and community prosperity are key targets for funding in the 2020-21 biennial budget proposed by Gov. Tim Walz.
Committee deadlines for 2019 unveiled
Legislators and the public officially know the timeline for getting bills through the committee process.

Minnesota House on Twitter