We were fairly confident sparks were set to fly on the floor of the Senate yesterday and right we were. The proceedings took eight hours and the major bones of contention were offered up by former GOP House members who now have the luxury of a four-year term. It appears the term of art often used by those with experience in the other body as house trained, clearly doesn’t mean house broken.
Until there is a passage of Temporary Rules, the Senate operates by the Rules from the previous session.
Senate Minority Leader Mark Johnson (R-01, East Grand Forks) challenged Senate Resolution 6, because it contained the composition of the Senate Committees. He and Senators Jim Abeler (R-35, Anoka), Rich Draheim (R-22, Madison Lake), Carla Nelson (R-24, Rochester) and others all criticized the parity on the different committees.
The crux of the issue is the mere 1 vote majority held by the DFL, is overweighed and not accurately reflected in the 2-3 vote majority on each committee. Abeler pointed out, taking into account the elections of Senators D Scott Dibble (DFL-61, Minneapolis), Omar Fateh (DFL-62, Minneapolis) and Zaynab Mohamed (DFL-63, Minneapolis) and extracting their vote totals then the overall support for DFL and Republican Senators would match up quite evenly. This generic ballot viewpoint has some merit, but the problem is to the victor goes the spoils.
Senate Majority Leader Kari Dziedzic (DFL-60, Minneapolis) has already conceded to seat an additional GOP member on three committees, which she didn’t identify, she is willing to consider more changes, but did say she will only do so after consultation with the respective committee chairs. She also spoke about the possibly of additional DFL members being added as well. Additionally, she referred to 2017, when Republicans took control of the chamber and they aligned the committees to their benefit.
Now, what does this mean, well unless the Republican Minority gets some relief, it could mean longer floor debates, more amendments and less comity from the GOP. Of course, there are procedural was to address this. As is done in the House, all amendments need to be received by the desk prior to a floor session, they could limit debate, along with other tactics, but it just means a longer process altogether.