New House rule leaves voters out in cold | Pineandlakes.com - Pineandlakes Echo Journal

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New House rule leaves voters out in cold

Posted: February 26, 2013 - 5:46pm

Most Minnesotans are probably unaware of a new DFL Minnesota House rule that limits their input into the lawmaking process and restricts representatives’ ability to function effectively.

New bills are introduced and then heard in appropriate committees where a small number of legislators come in contact with them and have opportunity to make changes. Intense scrutiny occurs only when a bill moves out of committee and onto the House floor where all members are present.

Floor debate is a fast-moving process. Good bills can be made better and bad bills can be fixed with amendments generated by the debate process. This ability to make changes quickly within the larger body helps hammer out good legislation.

The new rule formulated by the DFL majority requires any amendment to a bill on the House floor be submitted 24 hours in advance. This rule limits the ability to remain flexible and produce better law through all legislators working together.

The public is silenced by the inability to offer constructive arguments during the process by contacting their legislator about the bill under discussion. Currently lawmakers on the House floor can be reached by email or phone during recesses.

The ability to work together as a deliberative body is being suppressed under the dubious and deliberately misleading DFL claim of “transparency.” This rule is evidence that the DFL is unwilling to allow meaningful bipartisan participation in House legislation.

Last session, the GOP had no such rule and the DFL frequently generated dozens of amendments to a bill. They had unlimited opportunity for input.

How unfortunate for us all that the same kind of liberty the DFL enjoyed during the 87th session was not extended to the current minority.

With single party domination, Minnesotans can expect to see less responsive government and more heavy-handed suppression of any opposition.

Carolyn McElfatrick, Former state representative

Deer River

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