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These comments are responses to the Civic Caucus interview with

Minnesota State Senator Jeremy Miller
August 26, 2016

Legislature’s Purple Caucus aims to ease partisan gridlock


The Purple Caucus is a bipartisan collaboration of Minnesota State Senators aimed at ending partisan gridlock at the Legislature, according to State Senator Jeremy Miller (R-Winona). The goal of the Caucus, which was founded in March 2013, is to bring together legislators from both political parties to work on positive solutions for Minnesota, Miller says. He calls the Caucus a "much-needed platform to get things done in today's political environment." Miller and State Senator Roger Reinert  (DFL-Duluth) are co-founders and co-chairs of the Purple Caucus. All state senators are invited to join in the Caucus's work.

The Caucus set priorities for the 2015 and 2016 legislative sessions and had several successes during those sessions, Miller notes. He lists those successes as moving forward on child-protection policies, impacting the education funding conversation, passing a bipartisan tax bill (vetoed by Gov. Mark Dayton) and working on the Senate side on a bipartisan bonding bill. Miller believes legislators are noticing those successes and feel the Purple Caucus is starting to build momentum.

Miller asserts that the number one thing the Purple Caucus can do is to make good-government changes in the legislative process. He decries the last-minute nature of voting at the very end of the legislative session on Omnibus bills that neither legislators, the administration nor the general public have had time to review.

To put an end to, or at least minimize, that last-minute voting on bills and to increase transparency, the Purple Caucus put forth a proposal last spring that would require all conference-committee reports to be finalized at least one week before the end of the session. While the proposal could potentially be adopted by both the House and the Senate as a joint rule, Miller says it's more likely the proposal will need legislative action.

Miller also discusses what he calls the shortsightedness of the Legislature and the important role of lobbyists in the legislative process.

For the complete interview summary see: link to interview

Individual Responses:

Mark Ritchie
Great interview

Tom Spitznagle
The Purple Caucus is a promising start towards legislative cooperation. But can it overcome the interests of a few of the state's political leaders who apparently take their marching orders from their national parties and not from Minnesotan's representatives in the State Legislature? Perhaps in better times.

Wayne Jennings
What an upper to learn of the Purple Caucus. I hope they continue to grow. They’re needed.

Dennis Carlson
What a positive good idea in this polarized time.  I wish the House would consider such a group!

Lyall Schwarzkopf
I believe the Purple Caucus is very helpful.  Yes, it would be difficult to organize one in the House because the House is up for election every 2 years.  The key thing that the Purple Caucus does is to build trust among legislators of different parties.  In my day we ran as conservatives and liberals.  My first year in the Legislature I was seated next to a rural lawyer from SW Minnesota.  He was a liberal.  As I talked to him during the session, he was more conservative than I was.  Yet he was a liberal and I was a conservative.  We need a non-partisan Legislature to cut down on much of the partisanship happening today.

Scott Jensen
Well done. I learned a lot.


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The Civic Caucus   is a non-partisan, tax-exempt educational organization.   The Interview Group  includes persons of varying political persuasions,
reflecting years of leadership in politics and business. Click here  to see a short personal background of each.

  John S. Adams, David Broden, Audrey Clay, Janis Clay, Pat Davies, Bill Frenzel, Paul Gilje (Executive Director), Randy Johnson, Sallie Kemper, Ted Kolderie,
Dan Loritz (Chair), Tim McDonald, Bruce Mooty, John Mooty, Jim Olson, Paul Ostrow, Wayne Popham, Dana Schroeder, Clarence Shallbetter, and Fred Zimmerman




The Civic Caucus, 01-01-2008
2104 Girard Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55405.
Dan Loritz, chair, 612-791-1919   ~   Paul A. Gilje, coordinator, 952-890-5220.

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