‘Mute button’ days are numbered in MN House

State Rep. Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, speaks to reporters after being chosen as the next House speaker by the new DFL majority. Matt Sepic | MPR News

Let the shouting resume.

A controversial mute button that Republicans had installed in the Minnesota House chamber will disappear when the new DFL majority takes charge in January.

“I will be asking for the mute button to be disconnected,” said Speaker-designate Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park.

The button allows the presiding officer at the rostrum to shut off members’ microphones in the House chamber. Its installation came during Capitol renovations and following the especially chaotic closing minutes of the 2015 session. Many lawmakers were unaware of the button’s existence until microphones went quiet at times during another chaotic close in 2016.

House Democrats have repeatedly complained about the mute button, arguing that they should not be silenced. Republicans countered that it was needed to control debates. In 2017, DFL lawmakers tried unsuccessfully to amend House rules with a prohibition of its use.

Hortman said her request for the button’s removal will have to wait until she is officially elected as speaker.

“I don’t have the power to ask for that to be done right now,” she said. “But as soon as I have the power, I will ask for that to be done.”

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