Restriction sought for floor amendments


While in charge last biennium, DFLers put into House Rules the ability to limit debate on the House floor. The new Republican majority plans to lift the rule and replace it with one on the type of amendments that can be offered on the House floor.

According to the nonpartisan House Research Department, the new rule would restrict any amendment that would increase spending from any fund from which appropriations are made in the bill or if the amendment would increase spending total from all funds.

House Minority Leader Paul Thissen (DFL-Mpls) called for caution during the House Rules and Administration Committee meeting, saying the rule would limit a member’s ability to represent their constituents.

He said the House floor is the “first place that the body as a whole has a chance to weigh-in on what (spending) priorities should be,” and that it would limit public input.

“What this will do is force us to be very, very clinical about how we pay for things and how we account for things on the House floor,” countered Committee Chairman Matt Dean (R-Dellwood), the House majority leader.

Several DFL amendments were not adopted, including one from Rep. Kate Knuth (DFL-New Brighton) to sidestep one part of the House Ethics Committee procedure. Her amendment would require that a conviction for DUI to be considered as probable cause for an ethics complaint and a probable cause hearing would be waived.

“My concern is there have been a number of these incidents in the Legislature. We need the House to be held to a higher standard,” she said.

However, Dean said this would take away from the committee’s role and would place greater emphasis on one criminal offense over another.

In a procedural abnormality, Dean adjourned the meeting before the vote was taken to approve the rules.

He quickly said “reconvene” and asked members to take their seats. The DFL members left the meeting. A quorum was present, and the changes were sent to the House floor for consideration.