The Free Press, Mankato, MN

October 23, 2012

Your View: Don't junk up the Minnesota Constitution

By Philip J. Murphy, Madelia

— To me the simplest reason why I will vote “no” on the two proposed amendments to the Minnesota State Constitution this fall is because they do not belong on the ballot. I had a constitutional law teacher years ago that said we had to guard against “junking up” the constitution. Elected officials should not use the constitution as a legislative tool to be revised whenever a current legislative whim meets political opposition.

Back in 2008, I actually liked the proposed “Legacy Amendment” that, if passed, would earmark a pittance of the sales tax to organizations and causes I generally support. (3/9th of 1 percent for 25 years for the following: 33 percent for clean water, 33 percent for outdoor heritage, 20 percent for arts and culture and 14 percent for parks and trails). I liked the idea that these organizations and causes, for at least 25 years, would not have to bow, scrape and grovel quite as much to the “no new tax” obsessed legislature to keep projects funded.

However, even though I liked the idea, I voted “no” because the Legacy Amendment should not have “junked up” the constitution. It belonged in a statute, not the constitution, just as this year’s two proposed amendments should not be allowed to “junk up” the constitution.

I will vote “no” on this attempted legislative end run around the statutory process.