Minnesotans for a Single-House Legislature.

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Minnesotans for a Single-House Legislature (MSHL) was a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization established in 1999, apparently as a successor to the Citizens Committee for a Single-House Legislature, by former Republican state senator George Pillsbury and former Democratic state senator Gene (Eugene) Merriam. Pillsbury and Merriam served as co-chairs of the organization. Minnetonka business executive Charles Slocum served as general manager, and St. Paul businessman Stan Donnelly III as finance chair. MSHL maintained that the establishment of a unicameral legislature in Minnesota would increase the openness, accountability, responsiveness, and effectiveness of state lawmakers. To that end it hoped to convince the public to pressure the legislature to place a proposed constitutional amendment accomplishing this before the voters. The unicameral initiative enjoyed the active support and involvement of many key Republican and DFL leaders, several former governors, and then-governor Jesse Ventura. An independent lobbying group called Citizens Committee for Legislative Reform was also established, with James C. Erickson as its director of government relations.

MSHL maintained an office in suburban Fridley, Minnesota, organizing citizen forums, petition drives, and similar "educational" activities. Volunteer teams/local chapters were established in Rochester, Mankato-Fairmont, Willmar, St. Cloud-Brainerd, Alexandria, Moorhead, and Duluth. Ventura made several tours around the state speaking in favor of unicameralism.

A bill asking that a constitutional amendment establishing a unicameral legislature be placed before the voters in the November 2000 general election was authored by Republican House Speaker Steve Sviggum and Democratic Senator Allan Spear. The Sviggum-Spear plan called for a 135-member unicameral legislature to be known as the "Senate" with its members serving staggered four-year terms (half of the members would be elected every two years). The bill was introduced in both the Minnesota Senate and House of Representatives during the 1999-2000 legislature. Both versions of the bill, however, died in committee in May 2000 as a result of maneuverings by political opponents, and the proposed constitutional amendment was never put before the voters.

Pillsbury and Merriam's first attempt at advocating for a unicameral legislature, in 1997-1998 under the name Citizens Committee for a Single-House Legislature, met with a similar fate: the bills died in committee. The unicameral effort was revived under the name Minnesotans for a Single-House Legislature after the election of Ventura to the governorship in 1998, and the selection of unicameral proponent Rep. Steve Sviggum (R-Kenyon) as speaker of the house.

Charles Slocum joined the unicameral effort on April 1, 1999. Slocum was born in Madelia, Minnesota on February 27, 1947. He served as chairman of the State Republican Central Committee from 1975 to 1977. In later years he was president of The Williston Group, an Edina, Minnesota-based management consulting organization, which was retained in April 1999 to work with Minnesotans for a Single-House Legislature and with Citizens Committee for Legislative Reform. Slocum's career also included work for various Minnesota corporations and nonprofit organizations, among them the Dayton-Hudson Corporation, Honeywell, the Minnesota Business Partnership, Metro Cable Network /Channel 6, and the Minnesota Chapter of the Arthritis Foundation.

Most of the above information was taken from materials contained in the collection and from Slocum's monograph A Pox on One House: The Architect of the Lobbying Effort for a Unicameral Government Explains What Went Wrong, which is found in the Minnesota Historical Society book collection.

From the guide to the Organization records., 1997-2000., (Minnesota Historical Society)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Minnesotans for a Single-House Legislature. Organization records, 1997-2000. Minnesota Historical Society, Division of Archives and Manuscripts
creatorOf Organization records., 1997-2000. Minnesota Historical Society
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Andersen, Elmer L., 1909- person
associatedWith Barkley, Dean, 1950- person
associatedWith Citizens Committee for a Single-House Legislature (Minneapolis, Minn.) corporateBody
associatedWith Citizens Committee for Legislative Reform (Minn.) corporateBody
associatedWith Donnelly, Stan. person
associatedWith Donnelly, Stan. person
associatedWith Merriam, Gene. person
associatedWith Minnesota. Legislature. corporateBody
associatedWith Penny, Timothy J. person
associatedWith Pillsbury, George S., 1921- person
associatedWith Slocum, Charles. person
associatedWith Slocum, Charles. person
associatedWith Ventura, Jesse. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Legislative bodies--Reform
Nonprofit organizations--Minnesota
Representative government and representation
Representative government and representation--Minnesota
Constitutional amendments--Minnesota
Nonprofit organizations
Legislative bodies--Minnesota--Reform
Constitutional amendments

Corporate Body

Active 1997

Active 2000

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