I have authored a bill allowing Minnesotans to re-establish the Legislature as the co-equal branch of government that it is. This is in response to the governor’s repeated use – or abuse – of unilateral powers that has revealed serious imbalance in our system.
While my bill may not help our immediate situation, I made a motion to bring it up for a vote of the full House today because it is important to our future. Disappointingly, the House majority blocked this effort to restore balance in our state.
Specifically, my bill (H.F. 4648) would ask the citizens of our state whether our state’s Constitution should be amended to require legislative approval for a governor to extend his emergency powers beyond seven days. If the Legislature is not in session, the governor would need to call a special session to gain legislative approval for an extension of emergency powers of up to 30 days.
This would be an improvement over the current situation where, as we have witnessed, the governor can repeatedly extend his emergency powers during the session so long as the Legislature doesn’t stop him. To this point, the House majority has been unwilling to check the governor’s powers and participate in the decision-making process.
We all agree swift action from a governor is important if a crisis arises. My bill would still provide that initial window for immediate action.
But there also need to be limits and the decisions warranting urgency were made long ago. Now, the governor has been ruling by executive order for nearly two months. He has issued more than 50 executive orders since first declaring a peacetime emergency on March 13. That’s more than 50 dictatorial decisions which impact each and every one of us. By all appearances, the governor is expected to extend is executive powers yet again when the current 30-day declaration expires tomorrow (May 13).
My bill would allow Minnesotans to prevent injustices such as this from being committed by future legislators and governors. Minnesotans deserve to know they have representation. Their legislator is most accountable to them and they have put their faith in us. They expect us to shoulder these responsibilities because hard decisions should not rest on one person.
That is why I asked the House to put my bill up for a vote. This would show the good citizens of Minnesota we are serving their best interests and want to participate in the process. It is unfortunate the House majority chose to remain on the sidelines and allow one person to wield the kind of power that completely undermines our system of representative government.