Is it a big deal to amend the State Constitution?

3:52 AM, Nov 6, 2012   |    comments
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Amending the Constitution sounds like a big deal right? After all, we've only done it 27 times on the federal level in our country's history. But, when it comes to the State Constitution, it's a different story.

"Some states have lots of amendments to their constitution, they deal with lots of issues by constitutional amendment, other states almost never amend their constitutions, Minnesota is somewhere in the middle," says Constitutional Law Professor, Dale Carpenter.

Carpenter, who teaches at the University of Minnesota, says it's actually not that hard to pass an amendment here.

"In most states two legislatures in a row have to pass the amendment and then it goes on the ballot. In our state, it's just one legislature," says Carpenter.

In Minnesota, just over 50% of the vote is needed to adopt and amendment, in some other states it's as high as two-thirds of the vote. And, once adopted, how easy is an amendment to repeal? Professor Carpenter says it rarely ever happens.

"An amendment to the constitution can only be reversed by another amendment to the constitution. Which means we have to go through this entire exercise again if we think we made a mistake, get the legislature to pass it, put it on the ballot, have a big campaign, spend millions and millions of dollars and have another vote," he says.

Since statehood, Minnesotans have voted on 213 constitutional amendments, 120 have been adopted. That's according to the Minnesota Legislative Resource Library.


(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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