Thursday June 18th, 2021 --
We are back in the Building!
While it is refreshing to finally be allowed back onto the House floor the real work is only just about to begin. It will be long days - and probably nights - of debate for this "not so" Special Session but all of our members are back in the House Chambers at the Capitol. Now that the building has reopened, there are no more capacity restrictions or mask requirements for members on the floor.
The Single Subject Rule
If these closed-door, triumvirate-negotiated Omnibus garbage bills do anything at all, they highlight how much the Minnesota Legislature needs to return to a cleaner definition of "single subject" so that residents get a more transparent process of the work their legislators are doing. Watch the video above to listen to the discussion on the House floor on that topic.
Special Session "Never Again" Bill
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the chapter of Minnesota law that governs emergency powers – Chapter 12 – was put to the test. We have experienced over a year of unchecked, absolute power by our Governor. The power granted to the Governor through Chapter 12 completely usurps the power of the legislature, resulting in one-man rule.
I have introduced SS HF 28, The Never Again Bill, which would get rid of the ability for current and future governors to rule unilaterally through peacetime emergency powers.
• SS HF 28 protects citizens’ rights, even in an emergency.
• In SS HF 28, the Governor’s executive orders do NOT have the force and effect of law, and he will no longer have the ability to fine or jail anyone.
• SS HF 28 only allows the Governor to declare an emergency for 5 days. This allows for the Governor to call out the National Guard for things like rioting or tornadoes. It then requires both bodies of the legislature to approve for any extension over that.
• SS HF 28 allows the legislature to set the time frame of an emergency, with the ability to terminate it at any time. The governor no longer has the power to initiate extensions.
You can listen to the video below and read the full text of the bill here: SS HF28
So What's Next?
Despite my personal feelings on Omnibus bills, the majority will likely be voting to pass these 'agreements' out of each body of the legislature and move them on to the Governor. Not all committee areas have agreements worked out yet - and may not be able to before the end of the fiscal year June 30th. If we have not passed those bills by that time, we'll be talking about how to handle a partial shutdown.
I have to admit that I don't think any legislator in St. Paul feels satisfied with the results achieved this year - nor should they. As a group, we simply have to do this better.
State Representative, 31B
If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact my office or me. If you have other needs, please email my Legislative Assistant, Grayson, at Grayson.firstname.lastname@example.org.