House Republicans file letter of protest against Rep. Hortman

Rep. Melissa Hortman
Rep. Melissa Hortman

After House of Representatives Minority Leader Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park) made controversial remarks during an April 3 debate, Republicans filed a letter of protest and dissent in the April 7 House Journal. Hortman is not retracting her statements.
The House was debating a bill April 3 that would increase penalties for protesters who block freeway access when Hortman moved for a Call of the House. This procedure compels all absent members to return to the floor.
“I hate to break up the 100 percent white male card game in the retiring room but I think this is an important debate,” Hortman said.
Majority Leader Joyce Peppin (R-Rogers) and Rep. Bob Dettmer (R-Forest Lake) asked Hortman to apologize for her remarks during the debate.
“I have to say, that last comment was completely inappropriate for the House of Representatives, and I would hope you would apologize for that statement that you made Minority Leader,” Peppin said. “I think it’s very inappropriate to make comments about white males, racist comments about white males in the background, so I would ask you, Rep. Hortman, to retract that statement. It was ridiculous,” Peppin said.
Hortman stood behind her statement and did not apologize.
“I have no intention of apologizing … I went in the retiring room, and I saw where a bunch of my colleagues were. And I’m really tired of watching women of color, in particular, being ignored. So, I’m not sorry,” Hortman said.
Now, Republicans have responded by filing a letter of dissent and protest.
“Minority Leader Hortman’s statements needlessly invoked the race and gender of her colleagues, and called into question the motives of members during a lengthy floor debate,” the letter reads.
Speaker of the House Kurt Daudt and Peppin are among the 49 Republicans to sign the letter.
In the letter, Republicans said Hortman broke rules from Mason’s Manual of Legislative Procedure, the parliamentary authority for the House of Representatives.
“[Hortman’s] statements stand in direct violation of Mason’s Chapter 13, Section 124 which limits debate to the question before the House and prohibits invocation of personalities, and Mason’s Chapter 12, Section 114 which prohibits members from questioning the motives of colleagues. Her statements were deeply divisive and beneath the dignity of the Minnesota House of Representatives,” the letter reads.
The letter also calls for Hortman to apologize for her statements, and “repair the damage she has caused to the collaborative work environment at the Minnesota House of Representatives.”
In response, Hortman released the following statement: “I’m still not sorry.”
Hortman will respond formally when the Legislature reconvenes Tuesday, April 18.

Contact Kevin Miller at [email protected]