MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Does your state lawmaker live in the district they represent?
It’s an issue that catapulted into the spotlight during DFL Rep. John Thompson’s recent traffic stop. Some think the law needs to be changed for greater transparency.READ MORE: 'It Was Pretty Chaotic': At Least 3 Dead In Montana Amtrak Train Derailment
The video of Thompson’s traffic stop — when he said he’s a State Representative, but gave the officer a Wisconsin license — sparked conversation, and it’s behind the push to look at where Minnesota legislators live. It opened questions about the election process, and what residency information is shared.
“We need to get this straightened out and figured out, there’s clearly really a problem here,” Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer said.
The Republican Senator chairs the elections committee.
“When they elect their representatives, they need to be able to know that that is their representative, that they reside and live in their district. That needs to be answered one way or another, and right now I think the statute has left too much uncertainty,” Kiffmeyer said.
The Secretary of State’s Office says a state legislative candidate must provide their address on an affidavit. They can classify it as private if it pertains to their or their family’s safety, or is otherwise private under state law. In that case, a candidate must swear they’ve filed a police report or order of protection. They must also submit a separate form providing evidence of their address.READ MORE: Minnesota Weather: #Top10WxWeekend Continues With Summery Sunday
“It’s usually been somewhat of a trust, but we’ve had no verify,” Kiffmeyer said.
WCCO looked at affidavits for current legislators. Most state senators and representatives made their address public. While not verified by the Secretary of State’s Office, we are told those addresses are typically checked by political parties, especially in competitive races, to ensure candidates live in the district they want to represent.
There are four current legislators, including Rep. Thompson, who checked the privacy box. WCCO independently verified two of those lawmakers live in their district. We verified the address of a third falls in their district. Republican Sen. Julie Rosen said she plans to change her filing to include her address before the next election. Thompson did not reply to our request for comment.
Kiffmeyer wants to find a path forward. She plans to hold hearings on the issue.
“I haven’t come to a position or an answer, except for the principal that the candidate is responsible. That’s probably the essence of it. And that the law matches that responsibility,” Kiffmeyer said.MORE NEWS: MN Rep. Ilhan Omar Visits Afghan Evacuees At Fort McCoy Calling It 'Uplifting' And 'Emotional'
Voters can challenge an address. It happened at least once where a candidate was removed from the ballot. The Secretary of State’s Office says most states follow a similar affidavit system.