Nelson seeks to end last-minute lawmaking
Originally published in the Post Bulletin by Heather J. Carlson
ST. PAUL — Rochester Sen. Carla Nelson called on Senate leaders on Thursday to take steps to avoid last-minute lawmaking.
“The public has seen enough of these last-minute shenanigans where there’s some perceived leverage so we wait until the last minute, then pump out these huge compromises and people find out what’s in them after the gavel drops. We don’t have to live that way,” she said.
The Rochester Republicans is sponsoring a bipartisan bill that would establish a fourth committee deadline for large budget bills. That deadline would require those proposals to be posted one week before the end of session. Nelson said the goal is to make sure lawmakers and the public know what is in these bills before it’s time to vote.
Nelson said there has long been talk at the Legislature of doing away with the tradition of passing massive bills in the final minutes of session that have been negotiated behind closed doors, but these attempts have failed to advance.
“It’s time we act on this. It’s a much needed government reform. Nobody benefits when we make laws behind closed doors in the last minutes,” Nelson said.
Sen. Susan Kent, DFL-Woodbury, joined Nelson at the news conference and said she supports this effort.
“Caucus members want to avoid what happened last session when members of the Legislature and the public were frustrated by the way the bills came together last minute,” Kent said.
Nelson noted that her bill has the backing of the Purple Caucus, a group of DFL and Republican senators seeking to advance bipartisan proposals. The Purple Caucus accounts for roughly 30 percent of the Senate’s membership. She said she is optimistic that the support of the Purple Caucus, along with media coverage, can help give her bill the momentum it needs to pass.
She added, “I believe that we will not change until the public demands it.”