Every year, and sometimes more than once a year, I see in the paper that our electeds (there are no royals in Minnesota) are deadlocked over some issue or another. Every year I read that they may need a special session to resolve the deadlock. And just about every year I read that if the deadlock isn’t resolved, the state will have to shut down for lack of funding.

And every single time, it seems to me, the hang-up is a conflict between parties over a single part of an omnibus bill.

According to Omnibus Bill Law and Legal Definition, USLegal, Inc., an omnibus bill is draft legislation before a Legislature which contains more than one substantive matter, or several minor matters combined together as one bill.

I would add that while the legislation may be “draft,” it becomes law if passed.

I see a simple solution to the problem.

Eliminate omnibus bills, and require each item to stand on its own merit before the Senate and legislators.

Yes, it’s that simple.

If a country bumpkin like me can see this, why can’t our electeds — the governor, state legislators, and state senators — not see and deal with it?

What’s the problem? Democrats and Republicans.

Democrats want to pass all kinds of stuff by forcing it through in omnibus bills.

Republicans block all kinds of stuff because they don’t like one (or more) parts of an omnibus bill.

Electeds in neither party take seriously their obligation to the entire state. Instead, they place their own narrow party platforms first. And when they can’t get their way, they pout and blame the other side.

I have been told by various electeds they hate omnibus bills, but there’s nothing they can do about them.

Tommyrot!

All the electeds need to do is enforce the Single Subject Clause of the Minnesota State Constitution.

No, I’m not making that up. You can learn a lot more at: https://www.senate.mn/storage/scrfa/Omnibus_Bills_03_05_2018.pdf.

It says, in part:

“Permissibility of Omnibus Bills under the Minnesota Constitution’s Single Subject Clause

Peter S. Wattson, Senate Counsel, Revised February 2018

The primary purpose of the single subject clause is to prevent logrolling, that is, combining into one bill several distinct provisions, each of which is supported only by a minority of members, but which, when voted for as a package, will have majority support. As the Minnesota Supreme Court said in 1875:

“The well-known object of this section of the constitution . . . was to secure to every distinct measure of legislation a separate consideration and decision, dependent solely upon its individual merits, by prohibiting the ... insertion therein of matters wholly foreign, and in no way related to or connected with its subject, and by preventing the combination of different measures, dissimilar in character, purposes and objects, but united together with the sole view, by this means of compelling the requisite support to secure their passage. . .

A second purpose of the single subject clause is to prevent members of the Legislature from defrauding their fellow members by hiding controversial provisions in otherwise uncontroversial bills. This practice was condemned by the Court in an 1858 case . . .”

Electeds have known since before the Civil War that the practice was wrong. They passed legislation on the topic, and reviewed it in 2018. This is not something hidden or misunderstood. NosirreeBob, it’s a deliberate, ongoing attempt to pass legislation not on merit, but on concealability. And both parties are culpable. I, for one, am tired of having electeds jerking my chain. I’m eager to see who will move to end the omnibus nonsense, and thus earn my vote.

The Quote: “Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country.” -Franklin D. Roosevelt

Thom Boncher is a retired marketing communications manager, former Jordan City Council member and Jordan resident since 2003.

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