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Minnesota Legislature

Legislative News and Views - Rep. Lyndon Carlson, Sr. (DFL)

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Thursday, March 06, 2008
St. Paul, MN – State Representative Lyndon Carlson (DFL-Crystal) presented his bill today to amend Minnesota's constitution to allow the legislature to call a special session in the Government Operations, Reform, Technology and Elections Committee. This amendment, if approved by voters, would allow both the Governor and the legislature to call a special session, something Rep. Carlson said would strengthen the balance of power in state government. "There are times when the legislature and the Governor do not agree on the need to act swiftly on a critical need," said Carlson. "Instead of sitting idly by, waiting for the Governor to act, this change would allow the legislature to be more involved in the decision making." The ability of the state legislature to call a special session would reduce the gridlock that results when the governing bodies do not agree. Rep. Carlson cited two recent debates that warranted calling a special session: the critical need for a comprehensive transportation bill and the need to pass a tax bill to provide property tax relief. In addition, a change in the constitution would allow the legislature to respond quickly to catastrophic events. "When the I-35 bridge collapsed and the floods hit southeastern Minnesota, there was ongoing confusion about whether or when the Governor would call a special session to address these crises," said Rep. Carlson. "At times such as these, any delay is costly - the state legislature was ready to act and with this change we could have done so." Under current law, only the Governor can call a special session. Currently, legislatures in 33 other states have this capability, including Iowa, Wisconsin and Missouri. Under this proposal, in order to call a special session the legislature would need either the signatures of a majority of members from both bodies or the agreement of the presiding officers in both bodies. If the legislature passes the constitutional amendment, the issue would be placed on the November ballot for a vote of the people. The bill will next be heard in the House Rules Committee.
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