Last Friday, the House Committee on Governmental Operations, Reform, Technology and Elections, chaired by Rep. Gene Pelowski, put forward a draft report of possible changes to the legislative process. The intent, according to Chair Pelowski, was to study ways to improve the legislative process in Minnesota. Since the spring, the committee has spent a lot of time holding hearings, researching and otherwise working on this very important, but thorny subject (we can all agree the legislative process isn’t perfect, but that’s where the agreement ends…).
Committee members made it very clear on Friday that the still-in-draft-form report is not a recommendation from the committee, but rather a list of possible changes that they gathered from House members, lobbyists and members of the public. Because of that, some of the ideas contradict each other and, of course, committee members do not agree with all of the listed changes.
It is quite a comprehensive list (I’ve posted the hard copy I picked up in committee here) running eighteen pages in length and covering ideas on floor procedures, conference committees, scheduling, public participation and new ways to structure committees. The changes run the gamut from amending the constitution to eliminate the 120-day limit on legislative sessions to requiring conference committees to be scheduled with more advance notice.
So what happens next? You should certainly read the report and weigh in with your representative and members of the Government Operations committee on what you believe would improve the legislative process and facilitate public participation. Chair Pelowski says this list of possible changes will sit until after the election. Then he hopes that whomever is in office when the dust clears from November 3rd will consider this report as they formulate rules for the 2009 session.