Earlier this month, former Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith was appointed by Governor Dayton to replace Al Franken as Minnesota’s new United State Senator. Senator Smith will seek re-election in November to serve out the remainder of Franken’s term.
There is no disagreement that the Minnesota Constitution gives the Governor the sole power to appoint a new U.S. Senator if the seat is vacated. However, there is a legal battle brewing over who will be our next lieutenant governor.
The Minnesota Constitution states that the president of the Minnesota Senate “shall” move into the role of lieutenant governor if that seat is vacated. The current president of the Minnesota Senate is Republican State Senator Michelle Fischbach. Senator Fischbach has stated that she intends to accept the job of lieutenant governor, but that she also plans to remain in her seat in the Senate.
A memo prepared by Senate Counsel cited an 1898 ruling from the Minnesota Supreme Court that allowed the Senate president to also serve as lieutenant governor at the same time. In fact, this scenario has happened two other times in state history, in 1929 and 1937.
It appears that this issue will be resolved in the courts as just last week, a constituent of Fischbach’s filed a lawsuit against her citing another provision in the constitution that states: “No senator or representative shall hold any other office under the authority of the United States or the state of Minnesota…If elected or appointed to another office, a legislator may resign from the Legislature by tendering his resignation to the governor.”
Republicans currently hold a 34-32 majority in the State Senate and with a special election set for February 12th in Senate District 54, that majority could be reduced to a single seat. With this in mind, if Senator Fischbach were to resign, majority control of the state senate would hinge on the special election to replace her.
As you can see, this is setting up to be quite the legal battle. Stay tuned for more information on how this plays out and what it means for control of the state senate.
2018 March for Life
The 2018 March for Life rally will be held Monday, January 22nd at 12:30 at the Capitol. I encourage you to attend and be a part of the thousands of individuals who will gather across the country on that day to peacefully protest our nation’s abortion laws.