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Update on shutdown-related court cases 6232011

Update on shutdown-related court cases 6232011

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Published by Nick Sherlock

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Published by: Nick Sherlock on Jun 23, 2011
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- STAFF CONTACT: Nick Sherlock, (651) 296-4197
Senator Roger Chamberlain
District 53
Serving Anoka, Ramsey & Washington Counties
Office: 306A Capitol, Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155
 June 23, 2011Neighbors,Many of you have been asking me about the two court petitions I signed on toregarding the shutdown. We filed two separate petitions, one with RamseyCounty Court and the other with the State Supreme Court. The Supreme Courtpetition challenges the governor’s attempt to appropriate funds withoutlegislative approval, and the other challenges the governor’s request for amediator to solve the budget.First, here is a brief explanation of the recent rulings then a summary of whySenators Limmer, Newman, Nienow, and I decided to file these petitions.1. Minnesota Supreme Court: On June 22, the court dismissed our request for animmediate hearing. They dismissed the request saying the issue lackedurgency. Since the District Court had not yet ruled on our similar petition filedwith that court, and other issues, the Supreme Court believed it was not yetnecessary to intervene. This does not settle the issue. Depending on theoutcome at the District Court, we may file the petition again.2. District Court, Second Judicial District: Judge Gearin dismissed the governor’srequest for a court appointed mediator. She also denied our petition forintervention. Again, this does not settle the issue. The Senate as a body is nowrepresented in the hearing. At about 4:30 PM, June 22, Senate leadership filed apetition to intervene. In short, because the Senate body is represented, the fourof us are represented and thus this piece of our petition is not necessary. The Judge also denied our request asking the court to order Governor Dayton tocall a special session. This was not surprising because it was a unique request,but I still believe it was the right thing to do. The Senate filing was similar to ours but it lacked “teeth”. In other words, theirpetition asked for no specific relief or action to be taken. We will keep ouroptions open; we always have the right to appeal.In sum, the matter is far from settled. Judge Gearin will soon issue a ruling onthe constitutionality of the governor’s and attorney general’s request. Ouractions as individual senators and as a legislature will depend on both Judge
Gearin’s opinion and the action of our leadership. As mentioned above we canre-file with the Minnesota Supreme Court as well as appeal Judge Gearin’sruling.All of this could be avoided if the governor would simply perform hisconstitutionally required duty; that is, call a special session so we can avoid agovernment shutdown.So why did we file these petitions with the two courts?First and foremost we took an oath to support and uphold the constitution. It isour belief Governor Dayton and the attorney general’s intended actions willviolate Minnesota’s Constitution. Filing the petitions not only begins the processof stopping their actions but it also gives us a place the table.In general we contend the executive branch is violating the separation of powers provisions, specifically Articles 3, 4 and 11, section 1 of the Minnesotaconstitution. In addition, he is failing to act and making requests without anybasis in law:1. Budget appropriations – Articles 3, 4 and 11 sections 1 clearly define theroles of the three branches of government. Only the legislative branch has theauthority to appropriate funds to be paid out of the treasury. Governor Daytonand the attorney general are attempting to bypass the legislature by requestingthe courts to determine core functions and then order the office of MinnesotaManagement and Budget to make payments from the treasury.2. Mediator – The governor has requested the court to appoint a mediator. Thisis unprecedented and has no legal basis. The authority and constitutional dutyto negotiate with the legislature belongs solely to the governor.3. Special Session – By failing to call a special session to avert a governmentshutdown, the governor is failing to act on his constitutionally prescribed duty. This also effectively shuts the legislature out of the budget process. The governor has effectively created a constitutional crisis. He has failed tonegotiate in good faith and attempted to obstruct the legislative process. Whenwe presented the governor with a balanced budget he waited until session wascomplete before vetoing the bill. As a result the legislature was not able to bringthe bill to the floor for revision and further debate. He continues to avoidnegotiations and instead attempts to have the court appoint a mediator. Nowhe refuses to call a special session and has begun working on unilaterallyfunding government operations. With the governor’s approach, there is no needfor a legislature.Governor Dayton is attempting to usurp legislative prerogative to appropriatefunds. By his actions he hopes to avoid legislative difficulties and disrupt theprotective checks and balances of our state constitution.

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