Both House and Senate omnibus elections bills have hit the House and Senate floors and are open for what promises to be some lively debate. House File 894 is authored by Steve Simon, DFL-Hopkins. Senate File 677 is authored by Sen. Katie Sieben, DFL-Newport. Sieben is also the assistant majority leader in the Senate. Both Simon and Sieben said bipartisan efforts led to the bills speedily going to their respective floors. They are both very aware that Gov. Mark Dayton has said he will only sign an elections bill that is bipartisan. Both expect their bills to be discussed on the floor late next week or the following week.
In the Senate bill, a provision is provided to move primary elections to the first Tuesday after the third Monday in June. Currently, primary elections are set for August. Sieben said she could go either way on this proposed change of the law. It is a good bill that will help maintain the integrity of Minnesota’s strong election system, Sieben said of the Senate omnibus elections bill, and it has key provisions that Minnesotans support, including the no-excuse provision to allow early voting.
The most controversial part of the House bill may be a section that was added in the latter days of its hearing process. This section, Article 7, deals with Minnesota following nine other states to have Minnesota allocate its electoral votes to the winner of the nationwide popular vote for president. Lead Republican on the House Elections Committee, Rep. Tim Sanders, R-Blaine, said that this part of the bill is likely going to be removed on the House floor.
Rep. Tim Sanders, R-Blaine, is the ranking Republican on the House Elections Committee. He praised bipartisan efforts on parts of both parties. (Tim Sanders website photo)
“This would cause a lot of heartburn” if it remained in the bill, Sanders said. Simon said he still plans to speak on the vote for president as a stand-alone issue.