Minnesota Report

The long duration debate over the School Resource Officer bill (SRO) yesterday in the Senate was one of those common occurrences in the legislation process, which is the debate on the floor was not what the real issue was about. While, discussing procedural issues and the ability to engage in debate, the minority, Republican members frequently recent House members, were pressing questions about the Senate Rules.

As they pressed Senate President Bobby Joe Champion (DFL-58, Minneapolis) with a line of questioning it was presented with one fundamental reality, on Friday the Republican minority of the Rules and Administration Committee were questioning the use of remote voting and its implementation. With the DFL holding a mere one-vote majority, the ability to wrangle, or whip the votes is far easier when the members do not have to be physically present.

It is common knowledge former Senate Majority Leader Kari Dziedzic (DFL- 60, Minneapolis) is fighting return of ovarian cancer and mandating her presence by rule seems unduly onerous. The rules they currently have were set during the COVID pandemic and have not be rescinded, and exercised on both sides of the aisle.

Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Erin Murphy (DFL-64, St Paul) released the following statement.

“The timing of Republicans’ attempt to eliminate remote voting in the Senate is either careless or cruel. The use of this practice in the Senate dates back four years, to allow the Legislature to continue its work and limit the spread of COVID. Since that time, remote voting has proven invaluable to members on both sides of the aisle, including the late Senator David Tomassoni, who participated remotely following his diagnosis with ALS. Last session, it was available for mothers with newborns or sick kids at home, and for members who sustained injuries or needed surgery.

I would never have tried to deprive Senator Andrew Lang’s district from representation, even for one day, because of his service in the National Guard, and I would never have prevented Senator Steve Drazkowski from participating when he needed to travel to be with an ailing relative.

As everyone knows, our colleague Senator Kari Dziedzic is currently in treatment following a recurrence of cancer. Her commitment to serve the people of Minnesota during this difficult time should be applauded, not dismissed, and not fought through cynical rulemaking. I am calling on Senate Republicans to stop this fight over remote voting. One of our members needs it now, and almost all of them will need it some day. Remote voting has allowed more people from different walks of life, especially younger members who are starting or growing their families, to consider elected office. In the long run, that is better for Minnesotans.”

The Republicans on the Rules and Administration Committee are: Senate Minority Leader Mark Johnson (R-01, East Grand Forks), Sen. Justin Eichorn (R-06, Grand Rapids), Sen Warren Limmer (R-37, Maple Grove), and Former Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller (R-26, Winona).