Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk (Facebook)

Don't you dare look at me while you're speaking: Minnesota Senate bans lawmakers from making eye contact in debates

Rejecting effort to overturn ban on eye contact, senators vote to keep rule in place


Scott Eric Kaufman
April 14, 2015 8:54PM (UTC)

Minnesota senators will continue to be compelled by rule not to make eye contact with each other while debating, after attempts to remove the requirement failed yesterday, Rachel E. Stassen-Berger of "The St. Paul Pioneer Press" reports.

By a 44-15 margin, the Senate voted to maintain the rule that requires senators to look at the Senate President, instead of each other, while debating. Democrats claim the bill is required to maintain decorum, with Majority Leader Tom Bakk saying that behavior "would probably not be as Senate-like as we would like to have it" if members were allowed to make eye contact.

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While the majority of senators agreed with his contention, Republican Warren Limmer said that he found "this particular rule of the Senate, dare I say, antiquated."

Democrats also upheld a ban on drinking water while on the Senate floor, citing the historic nature of the desks at which the senators sit. Republican Torrey Westrom tried to include a provision for pregnant or nursing mothers, but the Senate still voted down the bill by a 10-51 margin.

Members of the Minnesota House took to Twitter to mock their upper house colleagues. Representative Mike Freiberg, who like Senate Majority Leader Bakk is a member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, wrote:

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His Republican colleagues, Tim Sanders and Jim Nash, also chimed in with some good-natured taunting:

 

 


Scott Eric Kaufman

Scott Eric Kaufman is an assistant editor at Salon. He taught at a university, but then thought better of it. Follow him at @scottekaufman or email him at skaufman@salon.com.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Legislative Rules Minnesota State Legislatures Tom Bakk Warren Limmer

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