Senator Majority Jeremy Miller Recessed Senate Session to Press Members to Change Vote
Senate DFL Leader Melisa López Franzen (DFL-Edina) raised conflict-of-interest concerns after the Senate Majority Leader abruptly recessed the Senate Wednesday to allow the Republican Majority to meet behind closed doors to discuss overturning a successful bipartisan amendment aimed at fighting the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in Minnesota’s wild deer population.
Minutes after the full Senate gave its bipartisan approval to Sen. Karla Bigham’s (DFL-Cottage Grove) amendment to prohibit new deer farms in the state, Majority Leader Jeremy Miller (R-Winona) asked for a recess to allow majority Republicans to meet. After the Senate resumed session, the portion of Sen. Bigham’s amendment prohibiting new deer farms and the ban on importing deer from CWD states or provinces was stripped from the bill by the Republican majority, including five Republicans members who had originally voted for Sen. Bigham’s amendment.
Senator Miller has family ties to a deer farm business near Winona, and the Majority Leader’s effort Wednesday to overturn the prohibition on Minnesota deer farms is part of a years-long pattern by Senate Republicans of blocking meaningful efforts to stop the spread of CWD.
“Senator Miller needs to explain why he didn’t recuse himself on this vote, and to clarify his relationship to the deer farming industry, and what interest he had in interrupting Senate proceedings on an important bill so that he could convince five members of his caucus to change their votes and overturn a bipartisan amendment,” said Sen. López Franzen. “Elected officials are always held to a higher standard, The public deserves better from their leaders and we have questions left unaddressed.”
MN Deer Hunters Strongly Support Sen. Bigham’s Measure
Sen. Bigham’s amendment is strongly supported by the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, which has tens of thousands of members, because it protects the wild deer population from being hit by CWD, a disease that if spread, would damage Minnesota billion dollar hunting industry. Hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans hunt wild deer each year, and there is widespread concern that CWD emanating from deer raised on deer farms threatens that Minnesota tradition.