House approves legislator pay constitutional amendment

The Minnesota House has passed a proposed constitutional amendment that would let voters decide whether an outside group should determine pay for legislators.

The bill would put the measure on the 2016 ballot. Supporters, like chief author Rep. Jason Metsa, DFL-Virginia, say the measure would remove legislators’ ability to set their own salaries.

“This is about transparency for our constituents and turning over the authority that stops us from doing the good business of this state and letting our constituents handle that part,” Metsa said. “We don’t need to fight about it, argue about it or worry about it anymore. And in future legislatures, we’ll be able to discuss the important business of this state.”

Republicans said it was ridiculous for the House to consider a measure that would determine pay hikes for legislators when their budget work isn’t complete. House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, said he couldn’t believe Democrats passed the amendment before completing work on the budget.

Daudt said he was surprised that Democrats passed a constitutional amendment after complaining for two years that Republicans approved amendments to ban same-sex marriage and require a photo ID to vote for the 2012 ballot.

“I wish I could roll back time and listen to you guys,” Daudt said. “No constitutional amendments. No divisive social issues. Where’s the budget? That’s what you said. What are you doing?”

The Senate has yet to take up the measure.

Four Democrats, Ann Lenczewski, Gene Pelowski, Joe Radinovich and Paul Rosenthal, voted against the measure.

Here’s the roll call:

2013_05_17_16_41_22 by tom_scheck