Unicameral vote cannot be forced

Gov. Jesse Ventura appeared Monday before a legislative committee and an estimated crowd of 700 to address his desire for a unicameral Legislature. Speaking at Fergus Falls Middle School, Ventura all but demanded a public referendum on the issue of replacing the current two-house system with a unicameral body. Regardless of the prudence of a unicameral Legislature or allowing Minnesota voters to decide, Ventura’s apparent intimidation of legislators was improper and hasty.
Ventura acted as if he has already made the best decision for the state and that the perspectives of legislators who disagree with either the ballot initiative or a unicameral Legislature are invalid. Ventura stated he will “work against” legislators who disagree with placing the decision on next November’s ballot, further elaborating that he will “actively work against” the re-election efforts of these legislators. However, the decision to place such an important issue before the voters should be thoroughly discussed in all branches of government. It should not be made under pressure from a governor trying to further his agenda by playing the bully.
The decision to change the state’s government from a bicameral to a unicameral Legislature might be one of the most important this state has ever considered. Such a fundamental restructuring should only be the outcome of prudent, patient and careful consideration by citizens and legislators. By threatening the people with whom he should be working, Ventura shows his lack of respect for the legislative process.
Next year’s legislative session begins in January, and Gov. Ventura is pressuring legislators to decide shortly afterward to place the issue on the ballot. Such a decision, however, remains the legislators’ prerogative, as only their careful deliberation will produce the most appropriate decision.