Thursday, July 15, 2004

Minnesota legislators run afoul of Constitution

There's an interesting story on the Minnesota Public Radio site that details efforts to get a concealed carry law passed in Minnesota.  Problem is they tacked the conceal carry bill onto another bill - dealing with a Department of Natural Resources technical bill.  In other words, the two bills in one package are completely and totally unrelated, which seems to run counter to a clause in the Minnesota state Constitution which prohibits it (Article IV, Section 17 states "LAWS TO EMBRACE ONLY ONE SUBJECT. No law shall embrace more than one subject, which shall be expressed in its title.").

I tend to agree here.  State and federal legistatures do this often, group unrelated bills and add riders to other bills in order to get things done, i.e. create more laws.  I'm glad the Minnestoa State Constitution prohibits this, but am disturbed that it continues to happen in the face of a clearly written law.  The article even says that the Minnesota state legislature passes hundreds of bills a year - that's hundreds, if not thousands of new laws for you to deal with.  And the bills aren't particularly useful, IMHO - a bill regulating circusses (wonder if that applies to the state legislature)?

In any case, opponents of the conceal carry law may be doing Minnesota a favor by challenging it in the state's Supreme Court.  While their motives are suspect, their cause may be a good one, getting a ruling that bills need to cover a single subject, as the Minnesota State Constitution says.  It could mean more bills (splitting multi-subject bills into multiple bills), which can mean less of them getting to the legislature and getting passed.  Of course, it could also mean a longer legislative session, more legislators, and more tax dollars to make sure Minnesotan's are protected from circusses and their garbage is properly disposed of.

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