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It's a sign of the partisan times that we need to create a "Civility Caucus" at the Minnesota Legislature, but political parties, phantom donors and courts have corrupted a political system that was once born of liberty and justice for all.

So we applaud the Civility Caucus of Minnesota legislators of both parties and their efforts to bring civility and bipartisanship to lawmaking. The voluntary group has a handful of members, most of who witnessed political rancor at one point or another in the Legislature.

Members also get to know each other on a more personal level. Democrat Sandra Feist of New Brighton and Republican Kristin Robbins of Maple Grove, the chairs of the caucus, teamed up on legislation for school boards to make rules for kids and cellphones at schools.

Feist told the Minnesota Reformer that debate on the House floor tends to be theater and "we're expected to be colorful and interesting."

JoAnn Ward, DFL-Lake Elmo, experienced similar floor debates.

"I sat on the House floor and listened to grandstanding and pontificating and people speaking to the camera and thought: 'This is not effective government. We could do so much better,'" Ward told the Reformer. "There's just so much time wasted."

She founded the Civility Caucus in 2017.

Feist said the members also come to realize those with opposite views are simply reflecting and representing the views of their constituents. Legislators also have been prohibited for years for having lobbyists buy dinners and therefore don't hear other points of view. The Civility Caucus allows the members to have meals or happy hours together.

This civility effort is no small feat given the environment created by the growing influence of money in politics since the U.S. Supreme Court decided corporations could spend unlimited money influencing elections or issues via the ironically named Citizens United case.

Since that time, partisan politics have become hyper-partisan as legislators follow the money coming from all manner of corporations who now clearly have more power than voters and the people. So the Civility Caucus is a counter to that power.

The biggest benefit the caucus brings revolves around discovering things legislators of differing parties can agree on. And there are many.

Republican Sen. Mark Koran said he knew people thought he was a "radical conservative" as he once ran for Republican Party chair, but he also served as onetime chair of the Civility Caucus.

He told the Reformer that he has "broader views" on people with disabilities, children and the elderly.

"That's actually the reason I did it: To challenge people's views or perception [of] not just who I am, but who Republicans are," Koran said. "If you're just willing to have a conversation, you can find agreement on a whole pile of issues."

We agree and we hope other legislators see value in joining the Civility Caucus and supporting its growth and influence. Maybe we'll get to the point where the entire Legislature is a "civility caucus."