By Carol Blackburn
A question legislative librarians are often asked in the waning days of legislative sessions is, "Can the Minnesota Legislature pass bills on the final day of a regular legislative session?". And each year, we research the question yet again to make sure we are providing the correct answer.
Minnesota's Constitution, Article 4, Section 21 states in part, "No bill shall be passed by either house upon the day prescribed for adjournment." When that section of the constitution was written, the constitution also established that the Minnesota Legislature would meet in regular session in odd-numbered years. With a single-year session, the "day prescribed for adjournment" was apparent.
Things changed in 1972 when Minnesota voters approved a proposed constitutional amendment to establish flexible, biennial sessions. (Minnesota House Public Information Services published an informative article in 1991 about the history of flexible sessions in Minnesota.) With the inaugural biennial legislative session in 1973/1974, for the first time in state history there was a "final" day in the first year and a "final" day in the second year. Were both days considered the "day prescribed for adjournment" per the state constitution? Or was the final day of the second year the official adjournment day? The question was answered by the Minnesota Supreme Court in its 1974 decision, State v. Hoppe: "... May 21, 1973 was not the day of final adjournment ... but was merely a temporary interim adjournment during the unitary biennial legislative session".
One final note. Since the advent of flexible sessions, the Legislature has met in regular session in each year of the biennium. But Article 4 Section 12 of the state's constitution does not mandate yearly sessions. It's possible that some future legislature will meet only one time during a biennium and that there will once again be a single, final "day prescribed for adjournment".
By Elizabeth Lincoln & Carol Blackburn
Continuing a tradition that dates back to the state's earliest days, Governor Mark Dayton presented his fifth State of the State address last night to an audience of legislators, state officials, and guests in the chamber of the Minnesota House of Representatives. His address is just the latest addition to the Legislative Library's compilation of Gubernatorial Addresses to the Minnesota Legislature. The earliest we've found was that of the last Territorial governor, Samuel Medary – though it was read by his private secretary, Mr. E. H. Cook.
This image captures Governor Rudy Perpich presenting one of his seven State of the State addresses. A close look at the photo shows several recognizable faces including former Governor Harold Stassen and several legislators including Senator Bill Diessner, Senator Neil Dieterich, Senator Mel Frederick, and Senator Ember Reichgott Junge.
By Carol Blackburn
Most states in the U.S., including Minnesota, require drivers to have motor vehicle insurance. Yet, it is estimated that 10.8% of Minnesota drivers and 12.5% of drivers nationally drive without insurance. Minnesota currently has a manual process to verify insurance coverage yet in practice, coverage is verified only in select cases. More than 30 other states have some type of electronic verification system.
The 2014 Minnesota Legislature created a task force to "review and evaluate approaches to insurance coverage verification and recommend legislation to create and fund a program in this state." The Final Report of the Motor Vehicle Insurance Coverage Verification Task Force, released on February 1, 2015, offers a comprehensive review of the issue and offers recommendations related to Minnesota's program.
A recent posting in the Pew Charitable Trust's Stateline blog, "States Look to Reduce Ranks of Uninsured Drivers", offers a glimpse of the problem around the country and looks at state government efforts to address this ongoing concern.
Books & Reports
By Carol Blackburn
Many of the documents that flow into the Legislative Library this time of the year are annual reports about various state offices and programs. Scattered among those are a variety of studies that examine newly-emerging issues in the state of Minnesota.
What are plastic microbeads, why are they in Minnesota’s waters, and should we be concerned? Find the answers in the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s recently released report, Plastic Microbeads in Minnesota.
A special review currently underway by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is related to concerns about declining bee populations. The study is looking at the use of neonicotinoid insecticides in Minnesota and their possible impacts on bees and other insect pollinators. In 2014, the MDA released a project update titled, Scoping a Review of Neonicotinoid Use, Registration, and Insect Pollinator Impacts in Minnesota.
Another recently-received report is about medical cannabis (medical marijuana). A new law in Minnesota establishes a program for the limited production, distribution, and use of medical cannabis; only those living with specific medical conditions are eligible to participate. As part of the program, which will begin supplying cannabis to patients by July 1, 2015, there is a requirement to collect and analyze research and data in order to better understand the effectiveness of cannabis in the treatment of specific conditions. Several reports are required including one recently released by the Minnesota Department of Health, A Review of Medical Cannabis Studies Relating to Chemical Compositions and Dosages for Qualifying Medical Conditions.
Contact a librarian at 651-296-8338, or email@example.com, for further information on any of these issues.
Books & Reports
By Betsy Haugen
Presidential Executive Orders have been in the news of late with the announcement of President Barack Obama's recent executive action related to immigration. Their use can be controversial and their effect powerful. President Obama has issued fewer executive orders than any other president in the past 100 years when you look at the average number of executive orders per year in office. Similarly, Governor Mark Dayton has issued 82 executive orders during his time in office, far below former Governor Wendell Anderson's total of 143 over his four year term, the most issued by recent Minnesota governors.
State level executive orders can be just as important as state statutes and are considered public documents. The Minnesota Legislative Reference Library has been collecting Minnesota executive orders since the library's founding. The Library's searchable Minnesota Executive Orders database includes the full-text of executive orders from 1968 to the present.
In a recent Sunlight Foundation study, policy analysts evaluated all 50 states on the accessibility of their governor's executive orders. Minnesota earned an A, scoring high marks for machine readability, permanence, and timeliness of availability (how quickly executive orders are posted after issuance). The Foundation evaluated the Legislative Library’s database rather than the collection of executive orders available on the website of the Minnesota governor. Governors traditionally post executive orders for their administration only; when administrations change, this set of valuable historical information can be lost - or buried in state archives.
Just one more way the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library provides Minnesotans access to a notable set of information.