Bill would change how state's judges are chosenby Tom Scheck, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — A committee in the Minnesota Senate approved a bill Thursday that would let voters decide if the judicial election system should be changed.
The proposed constitutional amendment would create a non-partisan board to review judges' performance before they run for re-election.
Using the board's rating, voters would then decide whether the judge would keep his or her job. If a judge is rejected by voters the governor would appoint a new judge.
Supporters, like DFL Sen. Ann Rest, say the plan would keep politics out of state judicial elections.
"There is less of a climate of these aggressive negative ads in a state that has retention elections than they are when you put someone up in opposition to a judge," Rest said.
Supporters of the plan say it would keep special interest money and politics out of the court system. But Republican Sen. Julianne Ortman of Chanhassen said the current system is fine.
"We don't have overly politicized elections in the state of Minnesota," Ortman said. "It hasn't happened yet. This bill is motivated out of fear that it might happen in Minnesota but it hasn't happened yet."
The bill now moves to another Senate committee. It has not moved in the Minnesota House. If the House and Senate approve the proposal, a question would be placed on the November ballot.