Task force advises Legislature on how to get along
St. Paul, Minn. — (AP) After the crash-and-burn session of 2005, lawmakers are getting plenty of advice - from inside and outside the Capitol - on how to change their ways.
The latest came Thursday from a task force of retired lawmakers, ex-reporters, former government staff members and lobbyists organized by the Center of the American Experiment. The panel issued a 30-page report recommending changes that could make the Legislature run more smoothly.
Most of their suggestions have to do with the inner workings of the place, like having similar budget committees in each chamber and harder deadlines for passing bills.
But there's also a call to raise lawmaker salaries to attract better candidates. Since 1999, Minnesota legislator pay has held steady at $31,140 a year - a lower pay rate than Wisconsin, but a higher wage than in Iowa, South Dakota and North Dakota.
The panel also recommended that legislative offices no longer be segregated by party and that legislators have more socializing opportunities aimed at fostering trust and bipartisan interaction.
Former Senate Majority Leader Roger Moe, co-chairman of the task force, acknowledged that the recommendations can only go so far
"No amount of additional laws and constitutional changes can institute civility and good will among people," Moe, a DFLer, said.