ST. PAUL -- Gov. Jesse Ventura's appearance Tuesday in a citizens' forum turned into a lively debate with Rochester Rep. Dave Bishop, who opposes his push for a unicameral system to replace the bicameral Legislature.
''Governor, can you ride a unicycle?'' Bishop, a Republican, asked in a play on words.
''No, but I can ride a bicycle,'' Ventura said.
Bishop said, ''Yes, because it's got two wheels and it's balanced,''
The two took opposing sides throughout the forum, which was broadcast with a live studio audience as well as citizens presenting questions via video phone from Duluth and Mankato.
Ventura argued a one-house legislature would be more open and accountable, while Bishop said the current two-chamber system works fine.
Overwhelmingly, citizens asking questions were skeptical of a unicameral system.
Jordan Dick of Duluth asked how the change would cure corrupt politicians and apathetic voters.
Ventura said the unicameral system would end the need for conference committees. He cited his own calculations that only 10 percent of lawmakers serve on 86 percent of conference committees, concentrating power.
Bishop took issue with the question, saying the Minnesota Legislature is admired for a lack of corruption.
''We've got a solution looking for a problem,'' Bishop said.
Dale Gerdim of Golden Valley said he wasn't swayed from his opposition by Ventura's arguments. He said two chambers make for more checks and balances.
Ventura said the check and balance can come through the legislative, executive and judicial branches.
''You don't need a check and balance per se within the legislative branch of government,'' the governor said.
But Bishop said with two houses there are two majorities. Currently, the state Senate is controlled by DFLers and the House by Republicans.
Bishop said he feared the ''tyranny of the single majority that doesn't let any ... minority go around it.''
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