Two Minnesota DFL lawmakers are planning to introduce legislation that would give Minnesota voters the power to appoint U.S. senators in the event of an unexpected Senate vacancy.
The bill, proposed by State Rep. Ryan Winkler of Golden Valley and Sen. Ann Rest of New Hope, would require a special statewide election to fill such a vacant seat. Current law calls for the governor to appoint a replacement.
The proposed legislation comes in the midst of an ongoing recount in Minnesota for GOP Sen. Norm Coleman’s seat (at last count, Coleman’s DFL challenger, Al Franken, led the recount by 50 votes) and in the wake of an ongoing controversy in Illinois, where embattled Gov. Rod Blagojevich was arrested earlier this month on federal corruption charges for trying to sell President-elect Barack Obama’s vacant Senate seat.
Blagojevich defied officials Tuesday and appointed former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris to replace Obama.
"We have special elections to fill the vacant seats in Congress and the state Legislature," Rest said in a Tuesday statement. "There is no reason a United States Senate vacancy should stand alone as the only seat in Minnesota filled without the consent of voters."
Winkler noted that a handful of other states