Burning Down the House

Jesse lit the fire. Now a group of legislators prepare to feed the unicameral blaze.

"I can understand what the governor's up to," Moe snips, confirming that he plans to put the brakes on the one-house juggernaut. "He doesn't like dealing with the Legislature. He wants more power."

Actually, argues House DFLer Alice Hausman, it's veteran power brokers like Moe who fear losing their turf. "When there is one body deliberating, you focus more on the idea you're debating," she says. "When you have two houses involved, you're dealmaking. Every piece of legislation is decided in conference committee, so the people who appoint the conferees determine the outcome of every bill."

Either way, Moe says he's confident Minnesotans will be suspicious of overhauling the state's system of governance--especially in the wake of Ventura's post-Playboy slide in popularity. "Do you want to put more power in the hands of a person who was elected with only 37 percent of the vote?" he asks rhetorically. "I think that an overwhelming number of people would say no."

Christopher Henderson

Steven Schier, chair of the political science department at Carleton College, believes the idea of a one-house Legislature deserves "active and serious consideration," but he agrees that Ventura is in no position to start counting votes. "It's going to takes an active and consistent campaign," he contends. "And that will require the governor to think this through, which means spending less time at Harvard and on the David Letterman show and more time in places like Mankato or Crookston talking one-on-one about the virtues of a one-house Legislature."

And what of Jesse's promise to make life tough for guys like Moe? Schier chuckles. "If Jesse continues to behave the way he has, next fall every legislator will invite him into their districts to campaign against them."

Correction published 10/20/1999:
Owing to a reporting error, the issue of Playboy in which the Jesse Ventura interview appeared was misidentified. The Ventura piece was published in the November issue. The above version of the story reflects the corrected text. City Pages regrets the error.

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