The Minnesota House on Friday approved a constitutional amendment to take away their power to raise legislative pay to an outside panel while leaders of the Minnesota Senate are backing a 50 percent pay increase for the 2015 class of lawmakers.
The House measure, which passed 69-62, would ask Minnesotans to change the constitution "remove legislators' ability to set their own salaries, and instead establish an independent, citizens-only council to prescribe salaries for legislators?"The ballot question would appear on the 2016 ballot.
"It is not right for us to set our own pay," said House Majority Leader Erin Murphy, DFL-St. Paul.
The constitutional currently says: "The compensation of senators and representatives shall be prescribed by law. No increase of compensation shall take effect during the period for which the members of the existing House of Representatives may have been elected."
Lawmakers currently earn $31,000 a year and their pay has not increased for 14 years. The Senate approved a pay raise last month by one vote. That proposal would raise lawmaker pay to $42,000. The Senate has also prepared a constitutional amendment on legislative pay but has yet to take a floor vote in it. That may some on Sunday.
In the House, the debate about the pay question took about two hours as Republicans inveighed against it. The measure was introduced with Republican support but even some Republican sponsors voted against it on Friday.
"I feel sorry for you, buddy," Rep. Sarah Anderson, R-Plymouth, told freshman Rep. Jason Metsa, the sponsor of the constitutional amendment.