ST. PAUL (WCCO) — Not only are Minnesota lawmakers writing the bills behind closed doors, they are writing the bills inside the State Capitol, which is closed and locked to the public.
Without any public input, legislators met in a State Capitol hearing room and are choosing among themselves construction and building projects worth $500 million dollars. It’s just one of many inaccessible, private meetings.
If it’s not illegal, some say it is unethical.
“These meetings should be open to the public right now,” said Mike Dean, Executive Director of Common Cause Minnesota. “It’s a real affront to our democracy that they are not allowing the public in, both into the capitol and to the meetings themselves. Transparency is key to preventing corruption.”
Here is what you NEED TO KNOW.
There are major Minnesota programs — and others you may not know of — getting rewrites behind closed doors, but it may not violate what is called Minnesota’s open meeting law.
The law is supposed to prohibit action at secret meetings where it’s impossible for the public to be informed or detect improper influences. However, there’s a catch: it doesn’t apply if the gathering is less than a quorum, or if the politicians don’t vote.
And there’s one more catch: if you want to file a complaint against the legislature for violating the open meeting law, you can’t take it to court. You have to bring it to the legislature.
That’s Reality Check.