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Frequently Asked Questions About the Minnesota Legislature

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Representatives and Senators

1. What is the current pay scale for Representatives and Senators?

Answer

A Legislator's salary is $31,140 per year (see the House Research Department publication State Elected Officials Compensation). They are also allowed to collect a per diem for living and travel expenses seven days a week during the regular legislative session.

2. How do I find out who my Senator and Representative are?

Answer

Both House Public Information Services in Room 175 State Office Building and the Senate Information Office, Room 231 State Capitol, can tell you who represents you in both the House and the Senate. They have district finders that are compiled after each census when the redistricting process is completed. Simply call House Information at (651) 296-2146 or Senate Information at (651) 296-0504 to find out that information or stop into either office. For additional resources, including searchable databases, see Who Represents Me? and Legislative Districts.

3. How many members are in the Minnesota Legislature? How many are in the House of Representatives and how many are in the Senate?

Answer

The Minnesota Legislature has 201 members. The State of Minnesota is divided into 67 legislative districts, with about 73,425 people in each district. Voters elect one senator from each of those districts. Each Senate district is divided into two sections. Voters elect one House member, or representative, from each section, making a total of 134 representatives. These districts, which are made up of about 36,713 people each, are identified with an "A" or a "B."

4. Are there legislator contact lists?

Answer

The House of Representatives member information page includes Representatives' contact information as well as an excel spreadsheet, address labels, leadership information and more.

Senate member information includes senator contact information, district order and leadership lists, mailing labels and more.

5. How long are terms for Minnesota Representatives and Senators?

Answer

Senators are elected for a four-year term and representatives are elected for a two-year term. However, in election years ending in 0, such as 2000 or 1990, Senators serve for a two-year term in order to provide for the redistricting process done in conjunction with the United States census.

For more information on the members of the House and the Senate, see State Lawmakers: Minnesota State Government Series. This publication goes into more detail on why someone might run for office, what a legislative district is, and what the job of a legislator involves.

6. If a state Representative or Senator resigns or dies in office, how is the vacancy filled?

Answer

The vacancy is filled by a special election called by the governor.

7. How do I run for election to the House or the Senate?

Answer

Representatives and Senators must be qualified voters of the state, be 21 years of age, and must have resided one year in the state. In addition, legislators must have lived the six months immediately preceding the election in the district from which they are elected. Candidates for the Senate or House of Representatives must file during the designated time period, usually in July of the election year, and pay the fee. The Office of the Secretary of State has information on election laws, election calendars, voter lists, and more on their Elections website.

8. Do Representatives and Senators receive special rights because of their office?

Answer

Yes, they do have some special rights, mostly having to do with employment issues. In Minnesota, members of the Legislature are "citizen legislators" and most have jobs outside the Legislature. For example, a member of the Legislature who is employed in the private sector must be allowed to resume his or her old job or a position of similar seniority, pay, and status if he or she reapplies within 30 days after the end of the session. A member cannot be discharged because of time spent in legislative service, nor can they be denied their seniority or benefits.

In addition, no employer can discharge a member of the Legislature in retaliation for statements made or beliefs held in his or her capacity as a legislator.

If the legislator is employed by a public entity, such as a city or a school district, he or she must be restored to his or her original position or a position of similar status. In addition, that person is entitled to an unpaid leave of absence during any or all of his or her term of office.

9. What are the rules regarding gifts for legislators?

Answer

The Minnesota statute regarding gifts and officials is 10A.071. House Research has done a "Short Subject" (from the perspective of the House of Representatives) called "Gift Ban Law and Rules for House Members and Employees". The Campaign Finance & Public Disclosure Board also has information on their publications page on the "gift ban".

10. Can I find out what bills my Senator and my Representative sponsored and how my Senator or Representative voted in a previous session?

Answer

The permanent journal for each session has an index of bills by author. Also, you can click on the Web page for your Senator or Representative to find the recent bills he or she has authored.

The votes that Senators and Representatives cast are a matter of public record and are recorded in the official journals of each body. You can find the votes on the Legislature's Web site for the years 1995 to present.

The House has made it easy to check on House votes cast since 2001 on all bills. From the Bill Status page for any House bill, click on Recorded Roll Call Floor Votes to get voting details. Or go to the Recorded Roll Call Floor Votes page to find a vote by date or by bill number.

The Senate does not provide this service. To track how Senators voted from 1995 to the present, and how Representatives voted from 1995 to 2001, go to the Legislation and Bill Status page, type in the bill you are looking for, and you will get a bill status page on your screen. Near the bottom, you will see the final vote. Next to it should be a link to the journal page recording the vote. Simply look up your Representative or Senator to see how he or she voted.

For years prior to 1995, you would need to use the print volumes of the House and Senate Journals. Minnesota House and Senate Journals are available at the Legislative Reference Library, Minnesota Law Library, Minnesota History Center and various other libraries.

There are no official compilations of voting records. To find all votes by a particular Senator or Representative, you must look up the final vote on each individual bill.

Some Senators and Representatives have their staff keep track of votes. In addition, interest groups following certain legislation compile such information. Be aware, however, that these compilations can be partisan in nature. A selection of Legislator Voting Records and Ratings can be found in a guide from the Legislative Reference Library.

11. How do I find information on former Legislators?

Answer

Historical information about the Minnesota Legislature is available from the Legislative Reference Library and from the Minnesota Historical Society. For information about former members of the Legislature, see Minnesota Legislators Past & Present, call the Library at (651)296-8338 or email the Library. An historical data web page is available with facts on House and Senate leadership over time, party control, sessions, vetoes, women in the Legislature, and more.

Minnesota State Legislature