Republicans are pushing for dozens of changes to Minnesota's constitution

8:33 PM, Jan 28, 2012   |    comments
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ST. PAUL, Minn. --  It's something we haven't seen at this level in Minnesota politics in decades, efforts to amend the state constitution in nearly a dozen ways.

"Over the history of Minnesota we have seen numerous occasions where amendments come in clusters two to six amendments at a time," Constitutional expert David Schultz said Friday night.

The Republican controlled House and Senate in the Minnesota legislature has an opportunity to get policy on the books without the Democratic Governor's blessing. That can be done by passing legislation to put an amendment to the constitution on the November ballot.

Republican House Majority Leader Matt Dean says his party is being prudent and not proposing more constitutional amendments than necessary. Democratic leaders disagree strongly.

"If amending the constitution is such a good idea we ought to have bi-partisan vote to put it on the ballot," DFL Senate minority leader Tom Bakk said.

Bakk is a co-author on legislation this session that would require a super majority of the legislature to put an amendment on the ballot.

Since the ratification of the state constitution in 1858 there have been 211 amendments proposed to voters; 56 percent of those have passed. So the actual document has been amended 119 times.

Why it matters is simple; amending the constitution carries far more political weight than passing general bills into law.

"Regular legislation can be repealed; once something is in the constitution it is much harder," Schultz said.

Since the 1850's only a small number of constitutional amendments have actually been repealed.

The only amendment on the ballot this November already is the same sex marriage amendment. Others on the horizon are Voter ID laws, abortion restrictions, Right to Work state issues and tax increase limitations.

(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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