Color me surprised – bending the rules for judicial election reform

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A proposed constitutional amendment to reform judicial elections is dead, after Rep. Joe Mullery, DFL-Minneapolis, kept it from getting a committee hearing before a deadline expired. But now it seems the rules that DFL leaders use to kill some lawmakers’ bills can be bent when it suits their purposes. Color me surprised.

Mullery, who heads the House Civil Justice Committee, didn’t give HF 224 from Rep. Steve Simon, DFL-St. Louis Park, a hearing before the second committee deadline last Friday by which bills had to receive committee approval in both the House and Senate.

Now, House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, DFL-Minneapolis, is pressing Mullery to give the bill a hearing, saying the deadline rules could be bent for the bill, according to Minnesota Public Radio’s Tom Scheck.

A Senate version of the bill from Sen. Ann Rest, DFL-New Hope, is moving through the Senate and both Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogmiller, DFL-Minneapolis, and Kelliher are said to want the bill to pass and the amendment to be on the ballot this fall.

A majority of voters would have to approve the measure, which would replace the current system of competitive judicial elections with a system of appointment and retention elections.

The proposal comes from a group led by former Gov. Al Quie that is concerned about growing partisanship in judicial elections.

Mullery doesn’t favor the reform measure, but there may be enough votes to pass the bill in his committee, Scheck writes.