Ramsey County judge's ruling that struck down -- at least for now -- Minnesota's handgun permit law may have repercussions that go beyond the measure that was commonly called the conceal and carry law.
Judge John Finley based his ruling on a state constitution prohibition of laws that include more than one subject. As a practical matter that prohibition has been loosely interpreted by lawmakers (some might say ignored) so that so-called garbage bills are often seen toward the session's adjournment.
Garbage bills have been the bane of those who favor an open legislative process and have been roundly criticized in some quarters for years, but if the judicial system is going to strike down this law on that basis, then it should be consistent. Rep. Mark Olson, R-Big Lake, said he'll make court challenges to two huge budget bill from 2002 because they incorporated budget bills for agriculture, the environment and economic development programs. The nickname of one of those bills, "Hogs, frogs and jobs," ought to point out how ridiculous this legislative practice of piggybacking bills has become.
Attorney General Mike Hatch is already preparing a Minnesota Supreme Court appeal of Judge Finley's ruling and even if that fails it's possible the Legislature may address the issue next session. Although there was much teeth-gnashing about the loosening of gun permit regulations the results have not been as dire as critics of the law had predicted.
Meanwhile, the Ramsey County ruling may have started the ball rolling toward the elimination of garbage bills and a Legislature that is more accountable to the citizens it represents.
Let's hope so.
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