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Legislative hearing planned on constitutional amendments

Posted by: Jim Ragsdale under 1st District, Minnesota congressional, Minnesota legislature, Democrats, Republicans Updated: July 16, 2012 - 2:59 PM

A Republican state senator wants Democratic state officials to explain their work regarding the ballot questions voters will see in November.

Sen. Mike Parry, R-Waseca, who is also a candidate for Congress in the 1st Congressional District, called a meeting of the Senate Government Innovation and Veterans Committee, which he chairs, for Friday.

"In light of recent developments, the committee expects Secretary of State Mark Ritchie and State Attorney General Lori Swanson to explain their involvement surrounding the constitutional ballot questions on the November ballot," read a statement from Parry.

Ritchie has given titles to the two ballot questions -- one prohibiting gay marriage and the other requiring photo ID for voters -- that differ from titles approved by the Republican-controlled Legislature. Republicans have objected that he did so to make them harder to pass in the November election.

The marriage amendment was originally titled by the Legislature as "Recognition of Marriage Solely Between One Man and One Woman." Ritchie has titled the amendment "Limiting the Status of Marriage to Opposite Sex Couples." Gay marriage foes have gone to court to challenge Ritchie's proposed language.

The voting amendment was originally titled "Photo Identification Required for Voting." Ritchie determined it will be titled "Changes to In-Person & Absentee Voting & Voter Registration; Provisional Ballots."

Ritchie has said he consulted Swanson and determined that the Secretary of State, not the Legislature, has the authority to determine the titles of ballot questions. Both Ritchie and Swanson are DFLers.

A spokesman for the Senate Republican Caucus said Parry is interested in exploring political activities that Ritchie and Swanson may have engaged in regarding the ballot questions.

The committee meeting is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. in Room 123 of the state Capitol.



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