ST. PAUL, Minn. – Sen. Roger Reinert (DFL-Duluth) is introducing a package of bills that he hopes will begin a conversation over the legislative interim about what constitutes “good government” in Minnesota. The bills cover territory ranging from tax policy to state election law. The bills will not be heard in committee this session, however, Sen. Reinert hopes they will spark a public conversation about what good government should look like in the 21st Century. Below are brief descriptions of the five bills:
- A bill to create a non-partisan legislature. Until the 1970’s, the Minnesota Legislature was officially non-partisan. Candidates were not listed on the ballot under any political affiliation. This bill would return Minnesota to that process, turn the focus away from political parties, and force voters to focus on candidates and issues.
- A bill to create an open primary system. Several states – including California, the largest in the union – use an open primary system. An open primary allows for two candidates with the same political party affiliation to move forward to the General Election. Currently, only one candidate from each major political party moves on with a political party’s endorsement.
- A bill that would raise the bar required to offer amendments to the state constitution. This legislation would change the current simple majority vote of the Legislature to require a 3/5 majority vote. This bill would make it more difficult to put amendments before the voters, and would likely require bipartisanship support to reach the 3/5 “super majority” vote. A super majority vote is already required to pass a bonding bill in Minnesota.
- A bill to create a tax expenditure review committee. This committee would act in the fashion of a non-partisan board, and would analyze the over 300 deductions currently in tax policy. These tax deductions are written into tax code without any sunset date, or measure of effectiveness. The committee could not eliminate any tax deductions, but would offer information and recommendations to the Legislature.
In addition to the bills listed, Sen. Reinert is also a co-author on a bill introduced earlier this session which would require a 3/5 “super majority” vote of the Legislature for any future shifts of funding from the state to Minnesota’s K-12 school districts.
“My career away from the Legislature has been focused on civics and government process. These bills not only represent my values and beliefs from 20 years as an educator, but also my experiences from 12 years as an elected official. Minnesota has a string history and tradition of leading the nation in good government and transparency practices. This package of bills would help make the political process less partisan, less divisive, and would encourage greater transparency,” said Reinert.
Sen. Reinert represents SD-7, Duluth, in the Minnesota Senate. He also co-chairs the Purple Caucus. The caucus is a bi-partisan group of legislators who adhere to the principle of “Minnesotans first, other labels second.”