MN Senate Committee Votes To Change Legislative Immunity

ST. PAUL (WCCO) — A Minnesota Senate Committee voted Thursday to change a law that’s been in effect for more than 150 years, and it’s one you might not have heard about: It gives lawmakers immunity from arrest during the legislative session.

Except for felonies and treason, Minnesota lawmakers are immune from arrest once the session begins. It’s in the Constitution.

The exemption comes from old English law, after King Charles tried to arrest members of Parliament, and started a civil war. The principle is important, but perception is politics. And supporters are lining up.

Every Minnesota lawmaker gets a card giving them immunity from most crimes during session.

At Concordia University in St. Paul, students were startled to learn this, and they’ve been working to change the law when it comes to DWIs.

State Sen. Mike Parry (R-Waseca), who has never used his immunity card, teamed up with the Concordia students to remove legislative immunity for DWIs committed during a legislative session.

The students testified in the House and Senate, and the bill is moving fast. Both the House and Senate have scheduled votes on the bill, the first change for this law in 150 years.

There are a handful of cases of lawmakers invoking their privilege from arrest. It doesn’t mean they won’t be charged with a crime. They can be charged with the crime after the session ends. That or they must be let out of jail to take votes.

More from Pat Kessler
  • Kevin

    They should all be in jail……or dead………who cares…….

  • Hypocritical legislators

    The legislators are not above the law and there should be no immunity that prevents them from being arrested during the session. If a crime has been committed they should be charged just like the regular citizenry. Who do they think they are to think they are ABOVE the law?? It is high time to vote these clowns out of office and send them back to the real world of work. I propose a constitutional amendment that requires the public to approve of any increases in legislative pay and per diem increases. I also propose an amendment that takes away the legislative benefit of entering and exiting the state health insurance plan when they leave office.

  • Jennie

    the demacrats have been blocking this for years, glad its finally getting done.

    • Sam

      Oh? Sources on this?

  • George Orwell

    We are all equal.

    But some of us are more equal than others.

  • The other 99%

    I guess when you make the laws you make them to protect your butt only.

  • Hypocritical legislators

    The only reason why these clowns get re-elected is because in many races they run UNOPPOSED. Everyone who has ever been dissatisfied with their representative should run against them. It is now time to vote these clowns out of office this November.

    • angry Minnesotan

      yes great idea, get a bunch of whack jobs to run and split the vote, that way the idiots can win again on name recognition alone. It is bad enough having thieves running the state, that is all we need is a bunch of one hit wonder whack jobs in office with no clue what to do. We need educated people that are willing to take cuts in pay and benefits and to return to private life after serving in congress, not the lifers we have now.

  • Bunny Shockley

    The think they are above the law. .

    • angry Minnesotan

      when you write the law, you are above it. If you have ever listened to any of the debates you would know most of them have less intelligence than a wet turd in July on a hot sunny day. and they are the people making the rules we all have to follow.

  • Tracy M

    Why would they be above the LAW? “Got to vote these bumm’s out, people”. “Power corrupts…absolute power corrupts absolutley”.

    PS (why are we still putting people in jail for smoking mariuana?)

  • Ronnie Reagan

    Don’t act surprised!! laws are for you and me! Not the one’s who make them!

  • Sam

    As noted in the article, this does not make the legislators above the law, it grants them immunity to arrest while the legislature is in session.

    Are you Democrat or Republican? Now, what if a bunch of police officers on the other side decided to hover near your representatives, just waiting for that person to jaywalk or speed or merge without signalling. Then the slightest angry word is belligerence and resisting arrest, and the representatives are in jail, leaving only the opposition, the side that you didn’t vote for, to decide an issue.

    That’s what this piece in our constitution prevents. If someone commits a crime during session, they can still be arrested, charged, and prosecuted. It just has to happen after the session is over.

    I’m all for this shift in the law, by the way. Drunk driving is a danger to everyone on the road, and should result in immediate arrest.

  • Ace

    It’s great to hear that the Concordia students are responsible for doing something about getting this law changed. It’s outrageous that politicians are above the law, who do they think they are, royalty?

    Concordia students, I am proud of you!

  • Dale Gribble

    See how the DFL uses liberal socialist college students to advance its criminal agenda? Once immunity is gone, the DemocRATS will use trumped up charges to arrest the Freedom loving Republican legislators and impose Marshall Law!!!

    • Gayle Dribble

      Dirty republican filth.

  • Patriot


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