Several Legislative Issues Could End Up In Voters’ Hands

By Pat Kessler, WCCO-TV

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — A key Republican lawmaker wants voters to curb lawmakers’ spending by amending the Minnesota Constitution.

Senate Taxes Committee Chairwoman Julianne Ortman outlined a constitutional amendment Tuesday that would require legislative supermajorities to approve spending above 98 percent of projected revenue in a given budget period.

Extra money would go into a rainy day fund.

“We have limited government,” said Ortman, R-Chanhassen. “But you can see by the state spending history there are very few limits. In fact, we have had uncontrolled spending.”

Ortman’s amendment is one of a slew of constitutional amendments introduced in past weeks by majority Republicans.

Republicans have proposed a series of constitutional amendments including:

  • Requiring voters to show a photo ID at the polls.
  • Making Minnesota a “right to work” state.
  • Banning gay marriage by defining marriage as the union between one man and one woman.

Democrats say the amendments are one way for Republicans to get around DFL Gov. Mark Dayton because amendments bypass a governor’s signature and go directly on the ballot.

One DFLer said it’s a violation of a GOP promise to focus only on budget items.

“None of that has anything to do with this budget,” said Rep. Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley.  “They might deal with things in future years, but they don’t happen unless the voters approve it in 2012. So none of these amendments have any bearing whatsoever on the budget that we have to deal with right now.”

The Minnesota House and Senate did pass separate budget bills, but they haven’t agreed on a final budget and they haven’t sent their budget bills to the governor. That’s creating friction in the session’s final days.

“We’ve got a whole slew of folks who want to introduce constitutional amendments,” said GOP Speaker of the House Kurt Zellers. “Which isn’t also new around here.”

But Democrats, in the minority for the first time in 38 years, say the legislature is heading toward a special session if there is not a budget deal soon.

“Instead of worrying about things that are going to be on the ballot until 19 months from now,” said DFL Minority Leader Sen. Tom Bakk. “We oughta be worried about the next 19 days.”

More from Pat Kessler

    GOP back to their old creepy ways… What about their campaign promises of Jobs, Jobs, Jobs… They are such a joke. Voters will remember them for their lies in 2012!!!!


    And don’t forget, millionaires need more money.


    So instead of doing what they said and their jobs, they are going to play around and just cost more money. Would love to hear the people that were crying about the Dems “not playing fair” for the last few years because they had the majority. Well at least they did their jobs and did not try to go around the system and you can tell that by all the veto marks that TPaw has on his record.

  • Murph

    Today,the truth about oil imports came out.We as a country EXPORT more oil products than we import.Yet taxpayers pay more for oil products than third world countries who import the Republican life blood by millions of barrels.Something is terribly rotten in freedom land! Ya ,you bet you! What’s up there GOP.Ask your behemouth 450 lb oil executives about if you don’t already know and grow!

  • Gordon

    So with a fund that Ortman wants, if it takes a super majority to spend it then it will sit there when they can’t agree and build up. About a billion a year. When since the Arne Carlson days has anyone been able to build a supermajority consensus and have the governor on board? So rather than being in circulation in the state it will sit there. Not in a high growth fund but maybe bonds. Is the hope that eventually the government will have such a reserve that they won’t need to collect taxes? Another bad idea from the GOP

  • Jon Lindquist

    “Banning gay marriage by defining marriage as the union between one man and one woman.” – this is just not right! Even gay couples have the right to get married to each other. Next thing you know it will be illegal to be gay!

    • Amanda

      Michelle Bachmann is trying to do that!

  • Bon

    It should be illegal to be a gay !!!!

    • Kevin #2

      It should be illegal to be stupid! Can we ban stupid people – I mean just ban them out of existence?

  • funnyrabbit

    We should be able to vote on some of these issues. We do about lottery issues, why not these? I think some people are afraid of the results and that is why you’re upset.

    • Amanda

      Then I VOTE that we do not have a house of representatives, and a Senate… that way we all vote and get it done and all of the money that we will be saving by no paying them,… that will be the solution to the spending!

  • Vote? We can vote on something?

    Naturally, none of these directly affect your taxes. Why don’t we get to vote on the Vikings stadium? Oh, wait, that affects our taxes – no vote permitted on that. What do you think this is, America?

  • Al

    Fire Gardenhoser.

  • Barry

    The government doesn’t create jobs for the millionth time, they create the environment so companys can do well. This includes lower taxes, right to work, and no cap and tax laws. They have proposed a budget to address this. The other issues are being put to the people for a vote. I would think everyone would want to vote on these types of issues whatever the outcome.

  • A Voter

    Call it what it is, Right to Work For Less State. That will lower our taxes for sure.

  • A

    No, NO NO NO NO all bad ideas

  • Pavel

    Same old GOP. When they can’t get their way in both houses, the governor and the courts they want to put it on the ballot. Looks to me as though there will be a “special session” (extra costs) and ballot initiatives (extra costs) and yet the Republicans in the House and the Senate can’t agree on a budget, let alone consider the Governor’s.

  • T. Jefferson

    Fire the whole legislature and start over.

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