Lawmakers push plan to stop end-of-session cram

Sen. Carla Nelson, R-Rochester, talks about ways the Legislature can avoid the deadline scramble and improve transparency at the end of the session. Sens. Susan Kent, DFL-Woodbury, Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, and Roger Reinert, DFL-Duluth, are present. Brian Bakst | MPR News

A group of lawmakers worried about the furious push to pass bills in the waning hours of session are seeking changes to how the Minnesota Legislature does its work.

Thursday’s bipartisan call comes as another end-of-session bill pileup is taking shape. The lawmakers said too much work gets done in private and legislators have too little time to digest bills before voting.

Their plan is to require major budget legislation to be ready for final action at seven days before the mandatory adjournment. Sen. Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, said both parties push the limit too much.

“It gives us a week at the end of session to get our work done so we’re not scrambling at the last minute,” Miller said. “We all know that legislators, just like anyone else, need deadlines.”

It would take a change in House and Senate rules to alter the timetable. Rules changes like these typically are made at the start of the session, and supporters acknowledged they may have to wait until next year to press ahead.

Sen. Carla Nelson, R-Rochester, said the Legislature could stand to be more transparent.

“Nobody benefits when we make laws behind closed doors in the last minutes,” Nelson said.

Sen. Susan Kent, DFL-Woodbury, echoed Nelson.

“We all know transparency leads to trust, and we want the people of Minnesota to have full faith and trust in their elected leaders,” Kent said.

  • wjc

    While nice in theory, legislators have shown that in budget years the deadline is not the end of session, but June 30.

    And what happens if they miss the 7-day threshold in a budget year? What are the consequences? If the bill is killed, one party could use that as a tactic to prevent consideration of something that they don’t like.

    I’d like to hear more, but my first question is whether the cure is worse than the disease.

    Suggestion: please provide a link to the revisor’s site if there has actually been a bill submitted. If a bill has not been submitted, tell us that and how we’d be able to find it later. Thanks.

  • Lawman45

    Then, why did the DFL enact this during the decades whdn they ran everything???
    Too convenient.