ST. PAUL -- Gov. Jesse Ventura's full-throttle push for a unicameral Legislature isn't the only potential change in state government being presented to lawmakers this session.
From a switch to a Swedish-style parliament to more modest changes in committee structure, lawmakers are offering up alternatives to Ventura's proposal, which would eliminate one chamber of the Legislature.
Even Ventura, amid his pumping of a unicameral system, acknowledged at a public hearing, ''No one here would say that the bicameral system is a complete failure.''
Rep. Dan McElroy, R-Burnsville, put forth more than one suggestion that would leave both chambers in place.
''I don't believe the unicameral is the only option for making the Legislature better. I want to see a broader discussion,'' he said.
The Swedish proposal is his, and he doesn't think it's a wild idea; the erudite McElroy has done a lot of research and he's excited about it.
The plan would establish a council and an assembly. The council would have 48 members serving six-year terms. The assembly would have 120 members serving four-year terms. Currently, the Legislature has 201 members.
Under McElroy's plan, each body would have prescribed duties. All legislation would have to start in the assembly, which could single-handedly pass bills with some exceptions. The agreement of the council would be required on certain bills, such as tax changes, changing the size of government and proposing a constitutional amendment.
That plan is akin to a proposal from House Minority Leader Tom Pugh, DFL-South St. Paul.
He would have the Senate meet every other year and focus on broad issues such as tax and school funding reform.
''The idea would be we'd have a think tank on the big issues and the House could be acting on all issues,'' Pugh said.
Pugh contends some 60 percent of bills receive unanimous approval for passage. He wants to save time and money for people who come to the Capitol to speak on behalf of bills. Often they must return to speak to several House and Senate committees.
Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, proposes a constitutional amendment to create a parliamentary system with the governor serving at the pleasure of the Legislature.
''If you're going to do a reform in government, you ought to look at all the options,'' Kahn said.
One benefit of a parliamentary system would be higher voter turnout, she said. Votes in a parliamentary system usually come at a time of conflict and high public interest.
Kahn, however, isn't a supporter of sweeping changes or a unicameral system, calling herself ''basically satisfied'' with the bicameral Legislature.
Still, she calls the parliamentary system, with the ability to call elections the ultimate ''check and balance.''
''The issue of a clear line of responsibility. You wouldn't have the Legislature pointing hands at the governor and the governor pointing hands at the Legislature,'' she said.
A bane of the current system, according to Ventura, is the conference committee.
A second McElroy proposal would abolish most conference committees, instead establishing joint standing committees, which could consider and approve bills from either chamber.
That bill also would allow the House and Senate to amend a bill and send it to the other chamber, permitting the bill to go back and forth many times.
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