A bill to slow the progress toward "governing by referendum" appeared at the Capitol today.
This legislative session has seen a seemingly endless filing of proposed amendments to the Constitution in Minnesota. Already in November, residents will be voting on the amendment restricting marriage to one man and one woman. It's likely a bill to add a requirement to show a photo when voting will also be added.
These bills bypass the executive branch of government -- the governor -- and, when approved, go to the ballot instead.
Today, several legislators in the House filed a bill that could stop the practice. It would require a bill to receive a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate. Ironically, the bill would amend the Minnesota Constitution.
An amendment to the Minnesota Constitution is proposed to the people. If the amendment is adopted, article IX, section 1, will read:
Section 1. A majority Two-thirds of the members elected to each house of the legislature may propose amendments to this constitution. Proposed amendments shall be published with the laws passed at the same session and submitted to the people for their approval or rejection at a general election. If a majority of all the electors voting at the election vote to ratify an amendment, it becomes a part of this constitution. If two or more amendments are submitted at the same time, voters shall vote for or against each separately.
Sec. 2. SUBMISSION TO VOTERS.
The proposed amendment must be submitted to the people at the 2012 general election. The question submitted must be:
"Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to require a vote of two-thirds of the members of each body of the legislature to propose amendment?"
Those opposed to the recent conservative-backed amendment proposals might be quick to embrace this proposal. On the other hand, the 2008 Legacy Amendment, which dedicated money to outdoors and the arts, would've never appeared on the ballot. There were 85 votes in the House on the bill to put it on the ballot. Under today's proposed bill, it would've required 86.
A two-thirds vote would indicate widespread popularity for a measure, making the need for many constitutional amendments unnecessary. In addition to overcoming a gubernatortial objection, they're often used now by many politicians to provide political cover on controversial issues.
Two Republicans -- King Banaian of St. Cloud and Greg Davids of Preston -- joined seven DFLers as sponsors of the bill.
I don't like constitutional amendments in general. They should be used for things that were overlooked in the original writing of the constitution, like giving minorities and women the right to vote. They should not be used for things that legislatively could be changed, like the Legacy Amendment or the Voter ID law. I think the biggest abuse is with the marriage amendment. It is already illegal to marry someone of the same sex, so clearly legislation is working for the supporters of that, so why put it in the constitution?
Absolute foolishness. By making it so hard to get Constitutional amendments through the lege, they all but guarantee that any bad amendments passed by the voters would be locked in forever. Isn't that what destroyed California's tax base, putting the state in perpetual default?
The fact that this bill has bipartisan support is a huge red flag for me. Republicans only come aboard when Democrats go where Democrats shouldn't go.
If the founding fathers had wanted the great unwashed hordes to have any real power, they would have created a direct democracy. :-)
I suggested this (in jest) a few weeks ago:
Hey! How come Bob Moffitt doesn't have to use html tags?!?!? ( Is there a special waiver for Minnesota-based writers? ) :-)
This has to stop. Republicans only won a single election cycle but didn't get all branches of government so they're using the Minnesota Constitution as their plaything to try to impose their "laws" on us forever and ever. MNGOP go hire some accountants, stop sleeping with your staffers and go away.
A true improvement would be to require a much larger percentage of the popular vote to approve an amendment. As it stands, and as modified in the proposed bill, our state's constitution could be altered by a single vote. Hardly a reflection of the will of the people.