An election reform bill that could end competitive elections for judges will rise from its grave Monday when the Legislature goes back to work after the DFL Party convention.
Newly endorsed DFL gubernatorial candidate and House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, DFL-Minneapolis, had been pressing Mullery to give a hearing to the bill, and Mullery had been resisting, but apparently, resistance is futile.
The bill would put a constitutional amendment on the ballot this fall asking voters if the state should replace the current competitive judicial election system with one proposed by a group of reform proponents concerned about the potential for rising partisan involvement and campaign spending in judicial elections.
If approved, governors would appoint judges and they would be subject to retention elections, where the question would simply be whether they should be returned to the bench or not. If voters said no, the governor would make another appointment.
The bill was considered dead in the House of Representatives because it missed committee hearing deadlines earlier in the session. As we’ve noted before, however, the rules don’t always apply to bills that the DFL legislative leadership likes, and both Kelliher and Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller, DFL-Minneapolis, are fans of this one.
Mullery had previously said that he believes the bill is a solution in search of a problem. Republican Party Chairman Tony Sutton has also lobbied against the bill, resulting in Senate Minority Leader David Senjem, R-Rochester, removing his name as a co-author in the Senate this month.
It remains to be seen if this hearing will really happen, though. The bill turned up on Mullery’s committee schedule several times last week, only to be pulled at the last minute each time. Wonder what Mullery wants in return for granting the hearing?