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House committee holds meeting to find state government too full of committees, meetings

Irony is not the predominant trait over at the Capitol, something that was on full display Monday in St. Paul.

There, the House Governmental Operations, Reform, Technology and Elections Committee heard testimony from Geoff Bartsh, president of the Minnesota Governmental Relations Council. Bartsh, who considers himself an experienced lobbyist, has reached one conclusion about how things run at the Capitol: They’re screwed up.

This should come as no surprise to those familiar with the lawmaking-as-sausage metaphor, but Bartsh made his comments as the committee chair, Rep. Gene Pelowski Jr., DFL-Winona, has been looking at reform measures for the past couple years.

“More and more bills are being sent from one committee to the next with work left to be done, and we keep hearing this phrase, ‘This bill has a lot of stops to make before it gets to the floor, ‘ ” Bartsh told the committee, according to Session Daily, part of the house’s public info services.

“He supports fewer House committees and better coordination with the Senate committee schedule and structure,” Session Daily reported. “Bartsh also advocates imposing stricter standards on committee hearing notices and agendas, and having bill amendments available online before a meeting.”

Actually, the state’s online services are a real marvel, even if there’s always room for improvement.

But anyone who’s closely followed a legislative session from beginning to end could surely testify in conjuntion with Bartsh, who is right to bemoan the lack of coordination between the House and Senate. That extends beyond simple logistics; you may recall that the two-headed monster couldn’t come to an agreement on a bonding bill, which led to a gutting by Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

At least some folks in St. Paul are heeding the call for change. Let’s just hope the desire to streamline the lawmaking process doesn’t get held up in a bunch of committees and meetings. — G.R. Anderson Jr.

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