The current legislative session is supposed to be an "Un-Session," according to Gov. Mark Dayton, a chance to clean up obsolete, confusing and redundant laws on the books.
How about doing away with dangerous ones, too?
Star Tribune columnist Jon Tevlin on Sunday highlighted the efforts of some Concordia University students to get the Legislature to repeal the law that grantss legislative immunity to lawmakers during the session. Yes, lawmakers are immune from prosecution for offenses, expect for "treason, felony and breach of the peace." It harkens back to 17th Century England, when the king would often have lawmakers arrested to keep them from important votes.
What this law does, however, is grant legislators immunity from prosecution for driving while drunk. If legislators get pulled over they can flash their legislative cards and the cops have to let them go. Of course, the law doesn't grant them immunity from injuring or killing someone else while driving drunk.
It seems like a no-brainer. What legislator would oppose the idea of protecting the public from drunk drivers who just happen to be legislators? Incredibly, the students have been getting the runaround, their legislation bumped from committee to committee, where they have been getting a pretty hostile reception.
The students' outrage should be our outrage as well. Any legislator who opposes the repeal of this legislative immunity for DWI should be taken to task. He or she should be questioned at every opportunity about the opposition.
At the very least, any use of legislative immunity to avoid a DUI?prosecution should be recorded and publicized. But better yet, legislators should be held to the same standard that all of us are expected to meet. There is no excuse for drunk driving by anyone.
Let legislators know that we expect them to repeal this unwarranted immunity.