On March 16th, Speaker of the Minnesota House Melissa Hortman announced that the legislature would be “scaling back” amid the COVID-19 crisis. Soon thereafter, Governor Tim Walz issued a “shelter at home” executive order that has effectively forced most Minnesotans to work from home.
We’ve heard little publicly from the Speaker since that initial announcement, but her actions speak louder than her words. In recent days, it has become apparent that legislators continue to meet in violation of Minnesota’s Open Meeting law. Legislative “working groups” are writing new legislation or resurrecting dormant bills from last year or earlier this year. And it’s all happening out of the public’s eye.
What has become very apparent is that they aren’t working on legislation as promised by the Speaker that is “time sensitive, essential legislation.” Instead, they are passing new laws on the pet issues favored by Minnesota liberals who now recognize that they have less than three weeks before the constitutionally mandated end of the 2020 legislative session.
As of today, you and I are NOT allowed to be at the Capitol. We cannot personally participate the legislative process; instead, we can only telephone or email legislators to express any concerns we have regarding pending legislation. And that’s if we somehow find out what they’re secretly working on.
When the legislative schedule is publicly announced, it includes, ahem, interesting items like this gem from earlier this week: “SF xxxx Has been withdrawn.” That’s good, I guess, but we’ll never know. Most importantly, those without the proper technology have no way of viewing, participating or even understanding what is happening at the legislature until it is too late. This isn’t how a representative democracy should work – it is appalling at best and shows the contempt some liberals have for a transparent and democratic process.
This week, however, the Minnesota House of Representatives hit a new low. Representative Ray Dehn is ramming legislation through the Minnesota House that can easily be considered one of the most controversial election bills introduced in the entire country. And you and I can’t testify against it. Heck, we can’t even get a copy of the bill the day before it’s hearing.
Representative Ray Dehn (DFL-Minneapolis) bill will mandate that all Minnesotans have to vote by mail regardless of the public health issues (if any) remaining from the pandemic. We don’t know nor can we adequately predict what life will be like seven months from now. Regardless of how you feel about voting in person or mailing in your ballot, I think we all would agree that this is a dramatic change to Minnesota election law, and it deserves a full and transparent hearing. It will receive neither in the Minnesota House of Representatives today.
Thus far, Dehn’s Vote by Mail legislation has been quickly moving through the Minnesota House on straight party-line votes. From the best information I can gather, there has been little opposition presented except from brave House Republicans who have stood up and demanded greater transparency for this very controversial change in how our county’s conduct our next election. But it’s a fact that those House Republicans are vastly outnumbered and can do nothing to stop this bill from passing the Minnesota House. Elections have consequences and liberals all over the country understand this better than most.
Our only hope is one of two things: Governor Tim Walz lifts the statewide “shelter in place” order that will allow ALL Minnesotans, not just the privileged few at the legislature, to participate in their democracy. With the remaining three weeks left on the legislative calendar, we can contact Senators to present our concerns about making dramatic and controversial changes to Minnesota election law with little or no public input. Or, the legislature stops these unconstitutional meetings and waits to pass any remaining legislation in a post-COVID-19 special session. Neither is a perfect solution, but they are better than allowing a few dedicated liberals from single-handedly changing how and when we elect our president without our input or consent.
As of last week, only 10 state legislative bodies were meeting throughout the country. Most state legislatures meet only as needed to pass emergency provisions to help their citizens. Even Congress is not in session. Yet the Minnesota legislature marches on.
These people must be stopped before it is too late. Every Minnesotan deserves to learn about the good and the bad aspects of voting by mail before it is forced upon us.
Please – take a moment from your day this week and call the Speaker’s office to let her know that they should stop meeting in secret and either open up the legislative process allowing the public to testify and attend hearings or go home. You can reach SPEAKER MELISSA HORTMAN at: 651-296-4280