Sunday, May 8, 2011

End of Session, Minnesota Legislature makes significant/critical decisons in secret

Between now and the 23rd of May as the Minnesota Legislature aims for the end, there will be a number of meetings in secret the public may not know about, and will not able to participate in or observe.  The meetings are known as Caucus meetings and the Governor/Leadership meetings.

The Caucus meeting is when the political parties of both bodies break into a gathering to discuss the bills and issues that will come up for votes on the floor.  In these meetings, members let their hair down and talk directly and bluntly to each other on what their own and caucus position will be.  It is also where members may have problems with the position taken by the majority of the caucus and try to change it.  It also may be where pressure and influence is applied for members to vote a certain way.

In reality, at the end of session, it is these meetings, the Caucus and Governor/Legislative Leadership get together, where the most important legislative decisions are made.  The public are not able to hear the arguments and deliberations, or know the reasoning to the conclusion or resolution of these secret meetings.

Historically, the Legislative leaders and the Governor negotiate budget deals in secret.  The meetings are pretty exclusive in which the public and even members of the legislative bodies are forbidden from the process.  There are yielding of positions or trade offs that happen between the leaders and the Governor.  The special interest groups who may have that special relationship can get their views heard over others in these kind of meetings. The compromise or agreement is sometimes done to the last minute, and then is spit out to only get a passing, or even a haphazard analysis by the public and the legislators before they vote.

The public wants to know and participate in the making of the sausage, not to get the "rolled up" sausage and not know what's in it.

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