In Minnesota's Senate, Eye Contact Is Forbidden

Members must look at Senate president, not each other
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 14, 2015 6:18 PM CDT
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton delivers his State of the State address before a joint session of the Legislature last year. Behind him are Senate President Sandra Pappas and House Speaker Paul Thissen.   (AP Photo/Tom Olmscheid)

(Newser) – You know sometimes when a state has a weird rule on the books because it's been there forever and lawmakers just never got around to killing it? Yeah, that's not what's happening here. In fact, members of Minnesota's Senate reaffirmed a strange one this week—they can't make eye contact with each other during floor debate, reports the Pioneer Press. Instead, they must look at the Senate president (currently Sandy Tappas) when someone is speaking.

Otherwise, "our decorum would probably not be as Senate-like as we would like to have it," explains Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk. Also still a rule: No drinks of any kind on the floor, not even water for pregnant senators or nursing moms. The state's House has no such rules, and the Daily Intelligencer notes that House members were happily taking potshots. Tweeted one: "Other Senate rules: use secret handshake, speak in iambic pentameter, drag Stone of Shame if you violate a rule." (Read more strange stuff stories.)

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