Legislators trying to kill bill that would rescind their DWI immunity, backer says

DebraHilstrom.jpg
Rep. Debra Hilstrom
The bill's supporters say Hilstrom's words indicate one thing, her actions another.
Concordia professor Jayne Jones says Rep. Debra Hilstrom, D-Brooklyn Center, is saying one thing but doing something else entirely when it comes to a bill that would strip legislators of their immunity from DWI arrests during the legislative session.

Hilstrom says she supports the bill, but has asked for it to have a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee, which she chairs. That hearing, combined with the fact that Rep. John Lesch, D-St. Paul, has also asked for the bill to come before his Civil Law Committee, means it's almost certainly dead this session, Jones says.

That's because in order to meet a deadline, the bill now needs to be approved by three House committees before the end of the week. Jones, whose government students wrote the bill and are lobbying and testifying on behalf of it, says that's logistically impossible.

THE BACKSTORY:
-- DFL Rep. Rick Hansen argues on behalf of DWI immunity for lawmakers, cites constitution
-- Push renewed to strip legislators of DWI immunity


"We're not going to make deadline, so it'll go to the House Rules Committee, but nobody ever passes through that," Jones says, alluding to the fact that the Rules Committee has the power to advance bills to the floor without them having to go through the committee process.

"It's about a one percent chance," Jones adds.

Asked why she thinks legislators like Hilstrom and Lesch would want to kill the bill, Jones says, "I have absolutely no idea."

"I wish I knew -- that would help us," she continues. "I have students who are working around the clock on this, they're passionate, and we just want to change the policy."

On Chad Hartman's WCCO radio show this afternoon, Hillstrom, who is running for secretary of state, suggested there's still a chance the bill could be approved by the House even if it misses this week's deadline.

"Committee deadlines happen but I think there's always a way to waive those deadlines, and thats through the Rules Committee," she told Hartman. "I don't think this bill would be any different than any of the others who have had that deadline waived previously."

Though she's taking an instrumental role in delaying the bill's progress, Hilstrom said she'll "be voting in favor of it."

"I believe that legislators should be treated in the same fashion as regular Minnesotans, especially when it comes to DWI."

Specifics of the DWI bill aside, Jones took particular exception to Hilstrom's comment that, "I hope [students] have talked to the members of the committee that [the bill] has to go to and I hope they've convinced them to vote yes."

(For more, click to page two.)

My Voice Nation Help
20 comments
ginacalistro
ginacalistro

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) believes that legislators should have to obey the same laws as their constituents. MADD supports legislation, HF 2281 and SF 2073, to strip DWI immunity from state lawmakers. Our legislators are given special privileges and a “get-out-of-jail-free card” for a misdemeanor arrest during session. We find it unconceivable that those who make the laws to keep us safe are excused from such mandates and regulations. MADD is dedicated to stopping drunk driving, serving the victims of this violent crime and preventing underage drinking. In 2012, 114 Minnesotans died in drunk driving crashes—a 4.6% increase over 2011. Passing legislation to hold lawmakers accountable is of utmost importance in strengthening drunk driving reform within our state. It is in the best interest of everyone in Minnesota keep all drunk drivers off the road. 

Sincerely,

Jennifer Freeburg, State Executive Director and Gina Calistro, Public Policy Vice Chair

MADD Minnesota

Danielle Hansen
Danielle Hansen

Dave, people will believe anything. Even what City Pages writes, which is probably the worst offense.

William Davis
William Davis

Steve, while technically you're right, you and I both know there's so much more to this than that. What's the actual likelihood of a police dept pursuing this after the fact with a Minnesota legislator? Doesn't this increase the potential for corruption or back room deals?

hbaker23
hbaker23

I am a student on this bill and we have done MORE RESEARCH then necessary. We have lived at the Capitol for months. I personally have sacrificed so much to pass this bill. This is not just about getting an A in a "school project" it is about doing what is right!! This has become my livelihood and I am not going to just stop because a few people are trying to stop it. 


First off, the problem with prosecuting later is that you need a blood alcohol test within 2 hours. If not detained, this is not possible! Which means later on there is no evidence to prosecute. 


Second, we have had multiple people tell us directly it has been used, including legislators and police officers. 


Third, Hilstrom is not giving good advice. We have talked to almost every member of the committees we were told we would be in. I have waited outside her office multiple times, another student has called and we get no response from her or she is at her other job. She isn't teach a good lesson, she is pushing us away from ever wanting to be apart of the political system. 


We are not after anyone, we are after the policy. If we wanted to play dirty and start problems, we could have. We have enough OUTRAGEOUS statements, situations, stories and comments to fill a news paper, but we have kept names out of it, and will continue to do so. We are not worried about attacking a person, we are worried about our bill. I will do everything in my power to pass this bill and I know of 7 other students, a professor and countless media outlets who are there with me!! 



Dave Puskala
Dave Puskala

Not to mention the story of an "unnamed legislator" that is "no longer in office" being "drunk as a skunk". It is a colorful story, but I don't have any way of knowing if a single bit of it is fact. This is not the way you do public policy. I agree that the innuendo is troubling, especially when Rep. Hilstrom is simply giving good advice on how to actually get the legislation passed. I think she is teaching some lessons on grandstanding and baselessly impugning the character of others.

Steve Timmer
Steve Timmer

Sigh. The only immunity is from arrest during a session, to prevent political opponents from getting you arrested on your way to the Capitol on a trumped up charge. A legislator can still be charged after the session. Hilstrom is a prosecutor, by the way. You can make an argument for repeal, and it would be fine with me, Professor Jones, however, is apparently working on this with students as part of a political science project. She makes the bizarre argument that Hilstrom's remarks that the students should talk to members of the relevant committee means that she is opposed to the bill is frankly, well, bizarre. Talking to committee members is what you do when you want to get a bill passed. The innuendo annoys me.

stevejr
stevejr

It is insane that a person that MAKES OUR LAWS can have a privilege to drive drunk whenever they want from February to May and get away with it. These students are awesome and need to be given more credit for even finding this loophole  in the state constitution. And now this legislator, Rep. Hilstrom HAS THE POWER not to hear the bill but is deciding to which will kill the bill is crazy. She says she supports it but clearly she knows that if she hears the bill, it will be dead. Unbelievable

Scott Conrad
Scott Conrad

Anyone should get a dwi if guilty that means legislators judges cops etc everyone should have to avid by same laws

Brian T Sexton
Brian T Sexton

Lawmakers immune from laws...that totally makes sense.

laxx1559
laxx1559

How are people okay with this?!

John Bunch
John Bunch

Ok. Good to know. I guess it is designed to prevent political pressure on the acting legislature. But seems a bit odd to have a DWI immunity. I wonder what Mothers Against Drunk Driving thinks.

Matt Touchette
Matt Touchette

Actually, they have the right to claim immunity from a number of different state laws, not just DWI. Article IV, Section 10 of the state constitution says, "Members of each house in all cases except treason, felony and breach of the peace, shall be privileged from arrest during the session of their respective houses and in going to or returning from the same." The bill seeks to change the DWI definition and add the "breach of the peace" language, seeing as DWI's are not all considered felonies under current statute.

Mike Fisher
Mike Fisher

I wonder how many legislators have been pulled over for DUI moreover how many of those instances were swept under the rug

John Bunch
John Bunch

DWI immunity? Really? Even if they crash?

stevejr
stevejr

There is a zero percent chance at them pursuing it because one, they have no proof that a legislator drove drunk and used the card and two, that no cop would risk their job that provides money for his or her family and kids to TRY to bring a legislator down months after it happens. All this bill is doing is trying to add impaired driving to the definition of breach of peace. There will always be corruption in our society but this will not add fuel to the fire. Just trying to save lives by not allowing our legislators to drive drunk. 

MicheleBachmann
MicheleBachmann topcommenter

@hbaker23  I don't get what you mean when you say you aren't after anyone.  Your professor is whining to the paper and accusing Rep. Debra Hilstrom of slowing down the bill.  Sounds like you are out to get her.  


Plus if you have outrageous stories why haven't you released them to the paper?  Obviously what you are doing isn't working so what is the holdup?   Drunk drivers are terrible. Shame them.    Do you realize how stupid you sound when you claim you and the media have a bunch of stories about drunk driving legislators but won't release their names?    That's a big accusation.   Drunk driving is a serious crime.  The public interest is about knowing who is breaking the law.  It's time to put up or shut up.  

Tommy
Tommy

Legally, according to the students, there is no evidence that the Legislator even got pulled over. They have spoken to many police officers throughout the state and each one tells them the same thing. You can not prosecute or charge a legislator after session because there is nothing to prosecute. Legally they cannot take them in to draw blood, cannot make an arrest, they just have to let them drive off drunk. If no arrest is made,  it is like nothing happened and there is nothing that can count as evidence due to the card that they have. Its the law which is why they are trying to change it. 

hbaker23
hbaker23

@MicheleBachmann Maybe you should go talk to the legislators who voted against it, they'll have some good stories for you. Hilstrom isn't a story about drunk driving, she's blocking the bill and using procedure and power to slam the door on this bill! We are not out to get her, we want her to stop giving the run around. Someone is pulling strings at the Capitol. Why in the world would this get blocked or voted against? It is what the public wants and what we need to keep our roads safe. Pass the bill. 

Now Trending

Minnesota Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

Loading...