Thursday, May 26, 2011

What is so "special" about a special session?

In the next few weeks there will be a call by the Governor for a "Special Session" of the Minnesota Legislature.  The Governor is the only person that can call for a special session on "extraordinary occasions."  But there is something that is "special" before and after the unusual session starts.

An exceptional experience which is not seen in the regular session.  There will be either be no public input or testimony or very limited if at all up to and during the special session.  There are generally no public hearings.  The players from the Governor and his staff, including Commissioners will be interacting with the GOP Legislative Leader's and staff to try to work out differences between them on budget and policy matters. This process will be done through face to face meetings, e-mail, and through others forms of communication without any public meetings or notice, or access to the documents.

So you think that bill that was defeated during the past session is dead, be aware it may be in one of the bills that could be introduced during a special session.  There are many special interests who up to and during this unique session try to get legislation passed that could have been stifled by public testimony or a Chairperson of a legislative committee.  They will be knocking on the Governor and Legislative Leader's door.

It is far different from the public, open, and interactive legislative process where we can review and scrutinize bills, make public comment, and get people organized.  Generally, there will be arrangements and agreements between the Governor and Legislative Leaders.  The Governor will call for the special session.  The bills will be introduced, go through a process on the floors of each body, send it to the Governor, and he signs it.  This can be done in a matter of days.

Once the Legislature is called back in session they can do what they want to do and stay in session  until next January.  But, it is the Governor who can call the Legislator's back to St. Paul and he may not do it until there is general understanding between the parties.

Would it not be refreshing if the Legislative Leadership and Governor would give some time for the public to review the legislation which they agree on before the "Special Session."  That act alone would be very "special" about a special session

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