Ventura’s dislike of details hurts state

On Tuesday, Gov. Ventura elaborated on his desire for a unicameral legislature for the state of Minnesota. Instead of offering specifics, he declared that it would be unnecessary to discuss the details before the issue is placed on a ballot for a statewide vote. Statements like this clearly illustrate the reason many Minnesotans were reluctant to vote for him last November — concern that his decisions often might not be prudent. Asking the voters to decide on an amendment to Minnesota’s constitution without offering any details or information badly distorts how an important decision like this should be made.
Ventura again expressed his preference for placing the issue on the statewide ballot next November, claiming there is not enough time to inform voters about the details. He stated, “that’s like putting the cart before the horse.” One reason for his concern is that the Legislature must decide if the issue should be placed before the voters before this legislative term ends.
Although voters don’t need, or want, to know the more esoteric details of a unicameral legislature, there are a few fundamental details that voters must know to make an informed decision. The House Senate and Gov. Ventura should thoroughly discuss the issue and establish certain particulars for voters. These should include the number of legislators, the number of citizens each legislator represents, term lengths and other such information so voters can analyze the overall benefits and consequences. A session of debate among legislators would also offer a forum in which concerned citizens could both observe and contribute to a well-informed discussion.
Currently, there are 201 total legislators: 134 in the House and 67 in the Senate. Voters deserve to know how their representation would change before they decide on restructuring their representative government. A number of bills proposed in both the House and Senate that establish the number of representatives in a unicameral legislature. Even House Speaker Steve Swiggum, R-Kenyon, has proposed a bill specifying the number of legislators in the unicameral house, 135. And several other prominent unicameral supporters have also expressed a desire to establish details, including Sen. Glen Olson, R-Minnetrista, and Rep. Ron Abrams, R-Minnetonka.
Ventura was elected to a four-year term as governor and still has several legislative sessions remaining during which he can attempt to accomplish his agenda. An important vote like this — one that requires an amendment to the state’s constitution — should only occur after careful deliberation. Ventura mistakenly turns around the proper order of decision-making. Minnesotans deserve to be thoroughly informed before voting to alter both our constitution and system of government. Ventura’s goal might well prove to be a worthy one, but if voters are not sure what they are voting for, any decision will ultimately be the wrong choice.