Senate Report: Getting back to bipartisanship at the Minnesota Legislature

Published 8:45 pm Friday, March 22, 2024

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Senate Report by Gene Dornink

Friends and neighbors,

Gene Dornink

I am writing to you as I prepare for Thursday’s committee hearing. At this point in the session, we are hearing omnibus bills, which are large bill packages made up of numerous smaller bills on the same broad topic. It is crucial that we fully understand the proposed policies to avoid unintended consequences.

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However, the Democrats are once again rushing legislation through without proper time for public input or debate.

This biennium, lawmakers have introduced a record 10,000 bills between the House and Senate. Only a few hundred of these bills have progressed through the legislative process, and some are now included in an omnibus bill.

I have difficulty voting on omnibus bills because they contain so many policies. They often include bills that I would like to support. Yet they also contain controversial legislation — some that never received a hearing. This is a way for the majority to bend and stretch the rules to advance their extreme agenda.

This is not how the legislative process is intended to be run. I continue to hear from former legislators how saddened they are by the current majority’s lack of bipartisan legislation.

Former Gov. Ventura, Pawlenty and Dayton — all three governors from different parties — agreed not to pass changes to our election laws without support from both parties. They committed to not sign any election bill with controversial legislation in it, and that is exactly what they did. However, Gov. Walz hasn’t followed the bipartisan precedent of our former governors.

In the Senate Election Committee, both last year and this year, nearly all policies in the omnibus bills are partisan and very controversial. Election laws shouldn’t be partisan. More importantly, they shouldn’t be changed on a whim with little to no public input. Our goal should be to make it easy to vote and hard to cheat.

Fortunately, not all committees are like elections. I also serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee, which is one of the most bipartisan committees. In this committee, members across the aisle work together to support agriculture. We come alongside the farm community and try to solve problems without the heavy hand of government. Many other committees could learn a lot from this, especially in the Senate.

We need to bring bipartisanship back into the Legislature. By working together, we can do a lot of good for our state and the people we represent.

The Minnesota Legislature will now break for Easter. From my family to yours, I wish you a very blessed Easter celebration!

Gene Dornink, R-Brownsdale, is the District 23 senator.