Legislators using strange logic in ongoing effort to kill bill stripping them of DWI immunity

"And here it is. The Get Out of Jail Card," MNGOP Rep. Tony Cornish wrote on Facebook. "On the other side is the name of the Legislator and the expiration date, which is the end of your term."
A bill written by a group of Concordia University students that would strip legislators of DWI immunity appeared to be dead in the House earlier this month, but was revived after Speaker Paul Thissen, D-Minneapolis, publicly threw his support behind it. It cleared the House Civil Law Committee on Friday and has been sent to the floor for a vote.

But the same can't be said in the Senate, where the bill has been tabled by the Judiciary Committee.

See also:
Rep. Ryan Winkler vows to keep pushing bill stripping legislators of DWI immunity

The bill's chief author in the Senate is Judiciary Committee member Kathy Sheran, D-Mankato. She told us over the weekend that while she thinks it's very unlikely the bill will make it out of Judiciary and reach the Senate floor, she hopes to attach DWI immunity reform to another bill as an amendment.
Sen. Kathy Sheran

Sheran also detailed the strange logic used by her colleagues who are opposed to the measure.

"Most of all those who voted to table it were concerned about the lack of evidence that there is a problem," Sheran says. "They don't want to suggest public officials are [driving drunk] without evidence."

But the issue with that line of thinking is that if a legislator is pulled over for DWI and uses their "get out of jail card," there will be no record of an arrest taking place. So what sort of evidence do opponents expect to see?

Jayne Jones, the Concordia professor helping students with their effort, told us she's similarly baffled.

"I don't understand why they're so protective of [the immunity cards]," Jones says. "If it's not used, why have it in law? I don't get that part."

The issue cuts across partisan lines. On Saturday, Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Good Thunder -- perhaps best known as the legislature's most colorful gun rights supporter -- posted this Facebook status in favor of the students' bill:


Cornish's post resulted in an interesting exchange with a man who says he made the controversial "get out of jail free" cards for the state.

(For more, click to page two.)

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