Legislation Introduced to Seat Franken

Wednesday, 04 Feb 2009 03:59 PM

By David A. Patten

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A Minnesota legislator has introduced legislation to change state law and immediately certify Democrat Al Franken as the junior U. S. senator from Minnesota, despite Franken’s ongoing court battle with GOP Sen. Norm Coleman over who won the election.

Minnesota Rep. Phyllis Kahn is asking the state legislature to vote on H.F. 0493, a bill that allows provisional certification of the winner of an election while legal dispute are contested in court.

Under current Minnesota law, a winner cannot be certified until all legal avenues of appeal have been exhausted. GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty repeatedly has cited that law in reusing to certify Franken the winner.

Without certification, it is highly unlikely the Senate would seat Franken – although doing so would no doubt be tempting given the current struggle over the fiscal stimulus bill. Republican leaders have repeatedly warned Majority Leader Harry Reid not to try seating Franken before state officials certify a winner.

Kahn’s legislation would take effect immediately if it becomes law. Preventing that, however, would be the likely veto pen of Gov. Pawlenty.

Pawlenty has indicated that he disapproves of Kahn’s proposal because it would essentially change the rules of the election contest in mid-stream. Kahn represents the University of Minnesota area, which strongly favored Franken on Election Day.

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