A Minnesota lawmaker wants to make it crystal clear: State legislators can’t avoid arrest during session. Lawmakers’ supposed immunity from being arrested for drunken driving and other crimes has been a hot topic for years.
Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie said Wednesday he will no longer issue cards that appeared to give lawmakers immunity from being arrested for drunken driving or other crimes during a legislative session, saying his office isn’t bound by statute to distribute them.
Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson is advising the Legislature to forge ahead with a bill making clear that lawmakers can’t avoid arrest for drunken driving or other crimes during the months of session. But Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Ron Latz responded Thursday that he’s not convinced that a new law is required to resolve what he sees as a misunderstanding of current law.
Minnesota lawmakers’ immunity to drunken driving arrests would end under a bill that passed a House committee on Friday, a day after the Senate’s version was tabled by lawmakers who see it as unnecessary. The archaic provision in the state constitution dates to 1858, when the state’s founding fathers wanted to protect legislators from being arrested and detained from votes on important measures.