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Solve lieutenant governor dilemma with common sense, not politics

Just as Minnesota's courts cleared their plate of one messy constitutional dilemma, Minnesota's political leaders seem hungry for creating another such mess.

An assertion by GOP Senate President Michelle Fischbach that she can be both a senator and the lieutenant governor via some legal gymnastics created pushback from Democrats and Gov. Mark Dayton who, by law, is obligated to appoint the president of the Senate to lieutenant governor upon the resignation of current Lt. Gov. Tina Smith.

Democrats contend the law dictates that one person cannot hold both elected offices. Fischbach contends research by the Senate Counsel points to an 1898 court case and precedents going backs to the 1920s and 1930 that say one person can occupy both positions. Democrats argue a constitutional amendment from the 1970s prohibits the occupation of two elected offices by one person.

So, it appears the dilemma may be headed to court. That wouldn't serve Minnesotans well.

It seems common sense and forthright legislating should take precedence over a decision to run up more legal fees and waste the time of Minnesota judges.

GOP Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka earlier suggested a common sense solution. The governor could convene a special session so the Senate could vote to approve a DFL senator as president, allowing the governor a lieutenant governor of the same party. The Senate could then vote to approve a new GOP president of the senate. That move would also preserve the GOP one-vote majority in that body. Everyone wins.

Let's hope common sense and a handshake can prevail.—Mankato Free Press