Why Omnibus Bills Are So Bad

Why Omnibus Bills Are So Bad

Every other year, the Minnesota Legislature gets together and crafts enormous omnibus bills to keep the state government running. An omnibus proposal is a giant bill, with countless smaller bills wrapped up in it.


These bills range in subjects, but often include billions in new spending. What makes matters worse is that these bills can be thousands of pages long, making it difficult for legislators to understand every provision of the bill in the limited time that they have to read.


All those issues aside, it’s clear that the legislative tendency to pass sweeping omnibus bills is unconstitutional. The Single Subject and Title Clause can be sound in Article IV, section 17 of the Minnesota Constitution. This clause states that:


“No law shall embrace more than one subject, which shall be expressed in its title.”


According to MN House Research, delegates to the 1857 Minnesota Constitutional Convention were concerned about the practice of logrolling, or adding an unpopular provision to a popular bill, so that the unpopular provision can become law. No matter what the courts say about modern day omnibus bills, they clearly go against the intentions of the Minnesota Framers.


The modern day legislature walks a thin line with their omnibus bills, as they will embrace very general subjects such as “Education” or “Taxes”. Within these categories can be untold numbers of legislative proposals that lawmakers felt uncomfortable passing on their own.


Controversial proposals like vaccine passports could easily be snuck into these bills while nobody is looking. Because these bills are ultimately drafted days (and sometimes hours!) before a floor vote, legislators don’t get a real chance to read them! More importantly, the people of Minnesota don’t get to read them until it’s too late.


Because budget negotiations always come at the end of the legislative session, lawmakers become tired and lazy. They get to a point where they will vote for anything as long as they get to go home on time! Unless more Liberty-Champions like Erik Mortensen join the legislature, this kind of behavior is likely to continue.