Representative Cal Bahr (R 31B) of the New House Republican Caucus introduced legislation calling for an end to the omnibus bill. According to the New House Republican Caucus, the use of single subject bills encourage transparency in the legislative process while holding legislators accountable for how they vote. It can be difficult to know where a legislator stands on an issue when they are forced to vote for or against a package containing bad legislation and wasteful spending rolled in with good legislation.
An omnibus bill is a large bill that includes several different issues under one general topic such as education. It’s usually an appropriations bill, contains many pages, and is often comprised of several individual bills or parts of bills. Sometimes, our legislators can slip in a substantial change in legislation and present an omnibus bill as an all-or-nothing tactic. These changes more than likely wouldn’t pass if they had to stand on their own. Because of their large size and scope, omnibus bills limit opportunities for debate and scrutiny. This is what some at the Capitol call “sausage making.” The New House Republican Caucus is calling for an end to the madness.
Under the proposed Constitutional Amendment which has garnered bi-partisan support, “The title of a bill must not be amended after the bill is introduced in the legislature unless the title is amended to reflect changes to the bill that further limit the scope of the bill.” If the Minnesota Supreme Court rules a bill to be unconstitutional for violating this rule, funding for the affected portion of state government is available at 95% of the previous biennium’s funding level. In other words, if legislation violates the single subject rule, the taxpayers get to save some money.