SAINT PAUL, MN— Today, guidelines were announced for the remainder of the hearings on recent destruction after the murder of George Floyd. The guidelines sent privately to members of the committee include prohibiting any opening statements by senators; prohibiting senators that are not members of the committees to participate in the hearings or sit at the member table; limiting the number of Senate DFL members that may suggest witnesses or videos for consideration to a single member, the DFL Lead of the Transportation Committee; requiring members to be physically present to participate; and the relevance of all questions, statements, or motions being decided and ruled on solely by the chair of the committee, Senator Scott Newman. Senator Susan Kent released the following statement:
“These guidelines are a blatant attempt to silence people, specifically, senators of the People of Color and Indigenous Caucus, that represent the areas most affected by the recent unrest, and ultimately their constituents. The people of Minnesota and our colleagues deserve the respect, discourse, and transparency these hearings are looking to curtail,” said Senate DFL Leader Susan Kent. “Senate Republicans have been shutting Senate DFLers out since February, however, they are now formally establishing processes that stifle voices and conversations. This increasingly dangerous lack of dialogue is concerning and disturbing.”
Senators are required to be physically present in order to participate, even amid health and safety concerns around increased COVID-19 cases. With no remote options for participation, for either the public or senators, individuals must be willing to put their health and safety at risk in order to participate in these hearings. Additionally, Senator Newman’s guideline prohibiting non-members of committees to attend, observe, or participate in the hearings reverses a long-standing custom of welcoming non-committee members to the table.