The Minnesota House has banned lobbyists and representatives of the governor from sitting alongside legislators during committee meetings.
Lawmakers passed the rule change Wednesday in response to a dustup over the seating arrangement at a hearing on education reform issues earlier in the week.
Tom Dooher, president of the state teachers union Education Minnesota, sat next to legislators and state education commissioner Alice Seagren at the head of the hearing room table. Rep. Denny McNamara of Hastings was among several Republicans who were offended by the union leader's inclusion.
"It's absolutely embarrassing to think that we had the president of that organization sitting at the table of a committee, and committee members had to go back to their office to watch it on TV," McNamara said. "What if there would have been official action taken? My goodness gracious--what's wrong with us?"
Tom Dooher said he had no idea where he would be sitting until he arrived at the meeting. The vote on the rule change was 128-2.