a follow up statement by the Civic Caucus to its report last fall opposing the
Legislature's use of the state constitution as a substitute for lawmaking. (See
Transportation Constitutional Amendment). The
Civic Caucus report last fall contains detailed background and reasoning.
It was endorsed by a large number of individuals with long-time broad
experience and respect in public affairs.
Minnesota Legislature should immediately call a halt to cluttering the state
constitution with unnecessary amendments that favor some state services over
others and that will hamstring lawmakers in coming years.
Civic Caucus issued just such a warning last fall when it unsuccessfully
opposed--for the same reasons--an amendment to dedicate a portion of the state
sales tax to transportation.
who are sufficiently energized to vote on an amendment have no responsibility
to assess priorities among many competing needs and are not better equipped to
decide than are the elected Governor and Legislature. Lawmakers should
balance all taxing and spending issues and not buck such issues to the voters
just because the issues are too controversial. It should not become a
practice to enact some measures by law and submit others to a constitutional
issue isn't whether revenues should be dedicated to environment, the arts or
anything else. If lawmakers conclude the need is sufficiently urgent, they
can dedicate by law any tax to any service, and have the job finished by May
for some advocates, a constitutional amendment seems to have taken on a life
of its own, as if its passage is more important than the financing it offers.
vote could jeopardize other proposed amendments in the same election,
including proposals where a constitutional amendment is the only solution, for
example, changing the method of selecting judges. If too many amendments are
on the same ballot, some voters may choose to ignore all of them. In
Minnesota failure to vote on a constitutional amendment counts the same as a
Civic Caucus is making extensive use of computer and internet
technology to make it possible for people to participate without
having to attend meetings. The Civic Caucus believes
its approach might serve as a prototype for other organizations.
In addition to
the core group listed below,
some 750 others receive weekly
summaries of Civic Caucus meetings, background memos on public
affairs, and ongoing invitations to share their thoughts. That
group, which includes all legislators, is receiving today's
statement. If you would like to be included in Civic
Caucus e-mailings, send a request to
The Civic Caucus
is a non-partisan,
tax-exempt educational organization. The Core participants
who crafted this report included persons of varying political
persuasions, reflecting years of leadership in politics and
business. Click here
to see a short personal background of each.
Verne C. Johnson, chair; David Broden, Charles Clay, Marianne Curry,
Paul Gilje, Jim Hetland, Marina Lyon, Joe Mansky, John Mooty, Jim Olson,
and Wayne Popham