In order to understand the role of the Minnesota Legislature, it may be helpful to review basic government structure. Our democratic system of government is separated into different levels and branches. The three levels of government—federal, state and local—all function to meet separate responsibilities. Each level of government is made up of three separate branches—the executive, the legislative, and the judicial—with each exercising individual authority in order to serve the people of the community, state, and nation.
The responsibilities of each branch of government differ, and no branch of government is given power over another. This system of "checks and balances" insures that no single group can dominate the workings of government and that no one part of government can dominate another part of government.
The legislative branch is responsible for the enactment and revision of laws. The United States Congress forms the laws at the national level, and the Minnesota Legislature is the lawmaking body for the State of Minnesota. Both Congress and the Minnesota Legislature consist of two bodies: a Senate and a House of Representatives. This two body system is referred to as a bicameral system.
The executive branch administers and executes the laws passed by the legislative branch. The President of the United States is the chief executive at the federal level, and the governor serves as the state's chief executive. They are aided by the officials appointed to head the various agencies and departments and by the other officials elected to the executive branch. The persons elected to executive branch positions—governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, state treasurer, state auditor, and attorney general—are referred to as constitutional officers.
The judicial branch enforces the laws and insures that the interpretation of the law is in accordance with the U.S. and state constitutions. The federal and state court systems compose the judicial branch for those two levels of government.
The United States Congress
Many citizens confuse the elected officials who represent them in the state legislature with those who work for them in the U.S. Congress. At the national level, every citizen is represented by three members of Congress—two senators (who represent the entire state) and one member of the House of Representatives (from their district). States are divided into congressional districts based on population, with one representative elected from each district. Minnesota has eight congressional districts. In all, the U.S. Senate has 100 senators and the U.S. House of Representatives has 435 members. Their responsibility is to concentrate on issues of national interest, such as federal tax policies, immigration laws and national defense. They are your voice in Washington, D.C.
Citizens in every state also elect officials to represent them at the state level. Those elected to the state's lawmaking body, referred to as Legislators, work on state issues, such as funding the elementary and secondary education system, setting state tax policy, and funding state human service programs.
The legislatures' size and structure vary among the different states. Nebraska's Legislature is unicameral (one body) and all the rest are bicameral. In some states the larger body is called the Assembly, rather than the House of Representatives.
The Minnesota Constitution states that the size of the Legislature must be prescribed by law, therefore the Legislature determines the size of the Legislature (Minnesota Constitution, Article IV - Legislative Department).
The Minnesota Legislature has 67 senators and 134 representatives for a total of 201 members. The size of the Legislature has changed over time. Since statehood the lowest number of members was 63 and the highest was 202.
Legislative district lines are redrawn every ten years, following the decennial U.S. Census. Each state uses the census data to draw its legislative boundaries. The courts have held that each district must be nearly equal in population size. In Minnesota, and in most other states, the Legislature is charged with redistricting. In nine states, it is done by an independent commission, and in Alaska, the governor must redistrict.
No matter who is charged with the task of drawing district boundaries, the final product often is challenged in court. Once in the judicial system, the plan must meet strict criteria for approval. Redistricting plans have been ruled invalid for many reasons, including gerrymandering (creating oddly shaped districts to create a partisan advantage), compacting (concentrating voters of a single political persuasion into as few districts as possible), and fracturing (spreading voters of a single political persuasion among many districts to dilute their collective voting strength).
To learn more about redistricting, visit the comprehensive redistricting web page from the Legislative Coordinating Commissions Subcommittee on Geographic Information Systems Office (GIS). The GIS office also has an option to download a PDF of current district maps.
A bill is a proposal for a new law, a change in current law, repeal of a current law, or for a constitutional amendment. It consists of a title, enacting clause, and body (text), which is examined and approved in its form by the Office of the Revisor of Statutes.
In the Senate, bills are called Senate Files. Bills are referred to as House Files in the House of Representatives.
Resolutions are formal actions of the Legislature which express intent on the part of one or both bodies, but are not codified into Minnesota statutes upon passage. Each body can pass a separate resolution to express individual intent. They can also pass resolutions jointly or concurrently.
The Revisor of Statutes Bill Drafting Manual's chapter 6 discusses the different types of resolutions and more.
Anyone can—legislators, staff members, state or local agency employees, private groups, or individuals. However, only a legislator can introduce a bill or a resolution, and only after the Revisor of Statutes has approved its form. In addition, many Senators and Representatives approach staff members to help them draft a bill. House Research, Senate Counsel and Research, the Office of the Revisor of Statutes, and caucus staff members are often called upon to help.
Any member of the legislature can introduce a bill. There is no limit to the number of bills and resolutions a member can introduce. However, there are limits to the number of co-authors. In the House, there can be 35 total authors; in the Senate, the limit is five. Once a bill is introduced in either body, the chief author may find someone to carry the companion bill in the other body. A companion bill is usually identical when introduced, though each body's bill may change independently after introduction. In the House, the Speaker of the House assigns each bill and numbered resolution to one of the standing committees. The Chief Clerk of the House then assigns each bill a House File number, which will identify the bill in its travels. The Senate has traditionally used a somewhat different path to introduction. Bills and resolutions are given a number by the Secretary of the Senate's Office and assigned to a committee by the Senate President.
Once introduced, a bill travels through the committee process. It goes through the relevant policy committees and, if it has financial implications, a finance committee. After committee discussion, members can recommend action. Typically, the bill is tabled, laid over for inclusion in an omnibus bill, or sent to the floor. A bill must receive three readings on the floor before members debate it and take a final vote. Many bills never make it that far. To get a sense for how many bills are introduced and passed, please see the Legislative Reference Library's page: Number of Bills Introduced and Laws Passed in the Minnesota Legislature, 1849-present.
Once a bill is passed by the House or Senate, the bill must travel to the other body. If the two bodies do not agree, the bill will travel to a conference committee. See the FAQ: What happens when a bill has passed one body but not the other? for more information about conference committees. Once the bill is approved by both bodies, it goes to the governor for his approval. If the governor signs the bill, it becomes law.
See the steps a bill takes to become law on the page: How a bill becomes law in Minnesota, which combines information from the various offices of the Minnesota Legislature on the process of lawmaking in Minnesota. .
Under the Minnesota Constitution, Article 4, Sec. 17, only single subject laws may be passed by the Legislature. Theoretically, this requires that only amendments directly related, or "germane" to the measure, be attached to a bill. (The term "garbage bill" is sometimes used when a bill contains what some people feel are unrelated subjects.)
When a bill is being amended in committee, the committee chair rules whether an amendment is germane; on the House floor, the Speaker of the House makes those decisions. In the Senate, the committee chair makes the same rulings, and such decisions are left up to the President of the Senate on the floor. At times the courts have been asked to rule on this matter.
An omnibus bill is a large bill that is generally made up of numerous smaller bills on the same broad topic. For example, an omnibus tax bill may cover various changes in several areas of tax law including income, corporate, and sales taxes. Often the smaller bills are heard in committee and then laid over for possible inclusion in the omnibus bill rather than passing each bill separately.
There are no rules limiting bill introductions in either body. However, the Minnesota Constitution does require revenue raising bills to originate in the House. Revenue raising bills may also be introduced in the Senate, but a final bill enacting revenue raising must be a House File.
The best way to explain this is with an example. Say a Senate version of a bill passes the Senate before the House companion bill passes the House. In such a case, the Senate file is transmitted to the House, and if the House companion is still in a House committee, the Senate bill is referred to that same committee. Any further action on that bill is done to the Senate bill, though the committee may insert the House language if there are differences.
If the House companion has already gone through the committee process and awaits action on the floor, then the two bills are "referred for comparison," where they are compared to one another and the differences are reported. If the bills are identical, the Senate bill is substituted for the House version and all future actions are to the Senate bill. If they are not identical, the rules must be suspended to substitute the Senate bill with its differences for the House bill.
In the House, the language of the bill that already has passed the Senate automatically takes the place of the language that was recommended by the House committee. If the chief author wants to go back to the House language, he or she makes a motion to amend and substitute the House language for the language passed by the Senate.
In the Senate, the procedure is different. When a House bill is substituted for a Senate bill on the Senate floor, the Senate automatically places the Senate language back into the bill. The Senate author must then propose an amendment if he or she wishes to use the House language.
Ultimately, both bodies must agree to any changes made to the bills. If they don't agree, the bills go to a conference committee. That committee reaches a compromise that must be accepted by both bodies. However, once a conference committee makes its recommendation, the bill cannot be amended by either the House or the Senate. The only alternative is to accept the conference committee report or send it back to the conference committee for further work.
After both bodies have passed the bill in identical form, it goes to the governor for approval or veto.
Not necessarily. Either body can still take up a bill again as long as the session has not adjourned. In fact, bills are technically alive over the course of a biennium so a bill that was introduced in 2017 and didn't pass could still be discussed until final adjournment in 2018. When a bill fails to get the required number of votes, the author can try to persuade other members to change their opinions on the measure. The only way such a bill can be taken up for a vote again is if a member who voted against the bill is willing to make a motion for reconsideration and the body agrees to reconsider.
In addition, many bills that either don't receive a floor vote or are voted down on the floor end up as amendments to other bills of similar topic.
A veto is the constitutional power of the governor to reject a bill. When vetoed, a bill is returned to the house of origin with a veto message.
A more detailed description of vetoes is in: The Veto Process and Powers of the Governor. Historical data on vetoes and override attempts is available on the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library's webpage: Bills Vetoed.
According to the Minnesota Constitution Article IV, Section 23, a line-item veto (also known as an item veto) is the power of the governor to reject one or more items of appropriation in a bill, while approving the rest of the bill. The Governor can only line-item veto appropriations; the governor cannot line-item veto policy provisions in a bill. A more detailed description of line-item vetoes is in: History of the Item Veto in Minnesota.
If a bill is passed during the last three days of the session, the governor can "pocket veto" the bill by not signing it within 14 days after final adjournment (sine die). Historical data on vetoes and override attempts is available on the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library's webpage: Bills Vetoed.
There is no yearly deadline for the introduction of bills. However, each year the Legislature establishes deadlines for committee action on bills by concurrent resolution. The deadlines do not apply to the House committees on Capital Investment, Ways and Means, Taxes, or Rules and Legislative Administration, nor to the Senate committees on Capital Investment, Finance, Taxes, or Rules and Administration.
Committee deadlines are announced during the first half of a session in order to winnow the list of topics to be dealt with that year.
The Minnesota Constitution sets a deadline for the end of each year's session: the first Monday after the third Saturday in May.
No. Usually, though, every bill that becomes law goes through the committee process first. Members of either the House or the Senate may vote to forgo the committee process and give a bill all three of its readings on the same day in extraordinary situations where time is an issue.
In addition, every bill is assigned to a committee, but not every bill receives a hearing. That is up to the chair of the committee and, in the Senate, the chief author of the bill.
Most of the time, the governor has three days to sign a bill or to veto it. If the governor takes no action within three days of presentment, the bill will become law.
However, the timeline is different for bills passed in the last three days of a session. The governor has 14 days after the adjournment of the legislature to sign or veto a bill. If the governor takes no action within these 14 days, the bill will not become law. This is known as a pocket veto.
For a more detailed description of vetoes, please see The Veto Process and Powers of the Governor.
Yes, the Legislature can override vetoes, including vetoes of line items, as noted in the Minnesota Constitution Article IV, Section 23, provided the legislature has not adjourned. The action must receive a two-thirds majority in both houses (90 in the House and 45 in the Senate) in order to achieve this. There is no limit to this privilege, though successfully overriding a veto has been rare over the course of state history.
Historical data on vetoes and override attempts is available on the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library's Bills Vetoed webpage.
In the Senate, a bill remaining on General Orders (General Register in the House), the Calendar, or the Consent Calendar is returned to the standing committee (other than the Committee on Rules and Administration) from which it was last reported to the Senate. Bills must receive a favorable committee hearing again before being returned to the floor the next year. In the second year of a biennium, bills left on the various calendars are considered dead and must be re-introduced the following year. The same procedure applies in the House.
Information about bills from 1995 to the present are available on the Legislature's Bills web page. The Senate Information Office and the House Index office (651-296-6646) can answer this question. It is sometimes more convenient to check the House or Senate Journals and index directly for bill introductions, and Session Laws and index for laws passed. The index section of the permanent Journal for a particular session contains a numerical list of Senate bills and House bills which show official titles, Journal page references, and chapter numbers for all bills passed by the Senate and the House. There is also a subject index with cross references, an author index, and a companion bill list.
The full text of bills from 1995 to the present can be found on the Bills page. Bills from 1957-2002 are on microfilm at the Legislative Reference Library. For bills prior to 1957, contact the Minnesota Historical Society Library.
To see meetings that are listed on the House and Senate calendar pages, see the
This includes House, Senate, and Commission meetings. For further information on daily activities in the House and Senate, you may also want to see the Calendars and Procedures (Parliamentary) sections of this FAQ.
The House and Senate publish schedules of committee hearings and floor sessions on a daily and weekly basis. Paper and electronic copies of the daily schedules are available from House Public Information Services in Room 175, State Office Building, 651-296-2146, and Senate Information in Room 231, State Capitol, 651-296-0504.
You can subscribe to one or more email notification services.
The General Register is a list of bills that have had a second reading and await action by the full House of Representatives. The House Rules Committee usually meets the day prior to session to determine which bills on the General Register will be placed on the Calendar for the Day. Bills placed on the Calendar are debated and may be given a third reading and placed on final passage that day.
General Orders is a list of bills that have had a second reading and await action by the full Senate. Acting as one large committee known as the Committee of the Whole, the Senate debates the bills and may recommend them for preliminary passage. Bills recommended to pass, or pass as amended, are added to the Senate Calendar for third reading and final passage by the full Senate on another day.
In the Senate, Special Orders is a category of bills that bypass the Committee of the Whole. A bill on Special Orders may be debated, amended, and placed on final passage immediately. Special Orders are designated by the Chair of the Committee on Rules and Administration (the Senate Majority Leader).
The Consent Calendar is a list of local or non-controversial bills that are given a second reading and bypass the General Register in the House or General Orders in the Senate, making them eligible for debate, possible amendment, third reading and final passage all in one day.
The Fiscal Calendar is a list of spending or revenue bills to be taken up by the full House on a given day. The bills are drawn from the General Register, which means they have had a second reading. Bills can be placed on the Fiscal Calendar by the chair of the Ways and Means Committee or the chair of the Taxes Committee. The intent to place a bill on the Fiscal Calendar must be announced before 5 p.m. on the legislative day prior to its consideration by the full House.
The Senate Agenda is a list of items scheduled for action by the Senate during the floor session for a particular day. Items on the Senate Agenda—which may include governor's appointments, messages from the House, first reading of House bills, reports from committees, motions, and other printed material—would otherwise have to be read aloud if they were not presented in printed form. This agenda saves that step. It is available to the public the morning of a planned Senate floor session.
The Senate and House each have an agenda that is prepared for floor sessions known as the Order of Business.
House Order of Business |
Senate Order of Business
These agendas include lists of bills that may be discussed. The House and Senate have different names for those lists; they also have somewhat different operating procedures.
In the House, the list of bills that are ready for discussion is called the Calendar for the Day. Bills that appear on the calendar are chosen from the House General Register by the House Rules Committee. The bills that are selected from the calendar for discussion may be amended and given a third reading—all on the same day. A noncontroversial bill may be placed on the Consent Calendar.
In the Senate, the process is a bit different. Bills that are eligible to be discussed and amended are placed on either the General Orders calendar or the Special Orders calendar. That decision is made by the Senate Majority leader or their designee.
When discussing bills on the General Orders calendar, the Senate forms itself into what is known as a Committee of the Whole. Bills on General Orders can be amended and recommended to pass. That passage is considered preliminary passage. Those bills are then placed on the Senate Calendar for a third reading and final passage at the next floor session. Bills on the calendar cannot be amended except by unanimous consent. A bill can bypass the General Orders calendar by being designated a Special Order. It can then be debated, amended, and given a third reading, all on the same day.
A caucus is a group of representatives or senators who affiliate with the same political party or faction, such as "DFL Caucus," the "Republican Caucus," the "Majority" caucus, or the "Minority" caucus. Also, any meeting of such a group is called a caucus.
The House of Representatives has web pages for both major party caucuses: the Republican Caucus and the Democratic/DFL Caucus.
The Senate also has web pages for the major party caucuses: the DFL Caucus and the Republican Caucus.
In the House, members of each party caucus meet on an informal basis within a week or two after the general election to organize and elect leaders. Each caucus can nominate a speaker designate. The speaker is officially elected by members of the entire House on the opening day of the session. The majority caucus also elects a majority leader and assistant leaders. Likewise, the minority caucus elects a minority leader to express the caucus opinion on the House floor, and other assistant minority leaders. For a list of current leaders in the House, see the House of Representatives Leadership web page.
In the Senate, the leader of the majority caucus directs the business of the Senate and is considered the leader of the Senate. He or she is elected by the members of the caucus, which also elects the leader's chief assistant, called the assistant majority leader. The minority caucus also elects its own leaders, much like the House does. The President of the Senate, who presides over the activities of the Senate and assigns bills to committees, is elected on the opening day of each biennial session. For a list of current leaders in the Senate, see the Senate Leadership list.
Whichever party holds the most seats in either the House or the Senate is considered the Majority Caucus.
Employees working for a caucus in the House or Senate are considered partisan. There are many other staff who work in nonpartisan offices.
Heads of state agencies do not specifically have party affiliations related to their jobs since they are not elected. However, they are appointed by the governor—a partisan, elected official.
You can call, email, or write a letter to your legislator. To speak to your representative or senator in person, contact their office to make an appointment.
Email is most effective if it is not a blanket mailing to all members. When sending an email, remember to include your name, postal address, and phone number.
Representatives Contact Information | Senators Contact Information
Find out who represents you.
Address Format - Representatives
Representative's offices are located in the State Office Building next to the Capitol.
Honorable (Full Name)
Minnesota House of Representatives
(Room #) State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55155-1298
Begin your letter: Dear Rep. (Last Name):
Address Format - Senators
Senator's offices are located in the Minnesota Senate Building next to the Capitol.
Honorable (Full Name)
Minnesota State Senate
(Room #) Minnesota Senate Building
95 University Avenue West
St. Paul, MN 55155-1606
Begin your letter: Dear Sen. (Last Name):
The House of Representatives member information page includes
Representatives' contact information, an excel spreadsheet, leadership information, and more. Additional information is in the right-hand column of the House of Representatives member information page.
Senate member information includes senator contact information, district order and leadership lists, mailing labels, an ASCII Delimited Text File (which can open as an excel spreadsheet) of contact information, and more on the other related links page of the member list.
Yes. Members of the general public are encouraged to testify before committees, though testimony may need to be arranged with committee staff prior to a scheduled hearing. Committees primarily focus hearings on particular bills, though occasionally they discuss issues of broad interest within the committee's jurisdiction. It's best not to come to testify at a committee hearing without first contacting the committee staff or your representative. Call House Public Information Services at 651-296-2146 or Senate Information 651-296-0504 to find the phone numbers for committee staff or to receive a standing committee schedule.
Here are 10 suggestions to make it easier to get involved:
Special needs accommodations such as sign language interpreters or large print materials can be arranged with advance notice. See Special Needs Access for details.
House Public Information Services has created a series of short videos about testifying before a committee. Senate Media Services has created a video on "Tips on Testifying Before a Legislative Committee" as well.
The Legislative Publications web page links to free publications providing session information, mailing lists, fiscal information, reports, and Revisor's manuals and guides.
The green and red member directories are joint publications of the Minnesota House and Senate. The green book, or Members Directory, is published near the beginning of the first year of a biennial legislative session—usually in February. It contains pictures, biographical information, committee assignments and contact information for all 134 representatives and 67 senators. It also lists key House and Senate staff and certain joint offices. The red book, the Official Directory of the Minnesota Legislature, is published during the second year of the biennium. It contains additional information, such as the permanent rules of both the House and the Senate, joint rules, and statutory and constitutional provisions relating to the Legislature.
Green and red books are available at the House Public Information Services, Room 175, State Office Building and at the Senate Information Office, Room 231, State Capitol. Limited copies are mailed.
The blue book or Minnesota Legislative Manual, is published by the Secretary of State's Office. It includes detailed information about the three branches of government, constitutional officers, and election statistics for certain offices over the state's history, as well as detailed information from the most recent election. The book also contains the state constitution and a history of proposed constitutional amendments.
Copies of the blue book are available to the public, free of charge, in Room 180, State Office Building, or call 651-215-1440 to order one.
Session Daily, an online news source, is updated daily during session with the day's House actions, and when news from the House warrants.
To subscribe to Session Daily, call House Public Information Services at 651-296-2146 or 1-800-657-3550, or complete the online subscription form.
The Minnesota House of Representatives and the Minnesota Senate produce and distribute unedited television coverage of all House and Senate floor sessions, select committee hearings, press conferences, and other issue-oriented programming. Programming is broadcast weekdays during the legislative session from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m., with extended evening and weekend coverage available for debates on high-profile issues. All broadcast programming is closed-captioned. See the House and Senate Broadcast Television Schedule page for a list of upcoming broadcast events and a channel guide.
All House and Senate television programming is Web cast live over the Internet. The live Web cast service allows viewers to watch additional coverage not provided on the television channels or to watch extended evening coverage. In addition, all television programming is archived and made available on the House and Senate websites. Web cast programming is captioned. See the House audio and video page for live and archived House web cast coverage and see the Senate Media Service page for live and archived Senate web cast coverage.
Yes. The Access at the Capitol page provides information from the Commission Serving Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing Minnesotans.
Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech disabled may contact the Senate and House via their preferred Telecommunications Relay Service.
Minnesota Relay Service is a free service that uses a specially trained communications assistant (CA) to facilitate the telephone conversations between a person who has a hearing loss or speech disability and the person with whom they wish to speak. All calls are confidential. To make a Minnesota Relay call dial 7-1-1.
In order to provide accessibility for meetings with legislators, legislative committee hearings, and House and Senate floor sessions, the Legislature contracts with Keystone Interpreting Solutions to provide legislative sign language interpreting services. Interpreting services are also available for hearings or meetings with legislators in Greater Minnesota.
To request legislative interpreting services, call 651-454-7275 (voice) through their website www.kisasl.com/request or
request by email.
Please make your request a minimum of 36 hours before the service is needed. You may also request legislative interpreting services from the committee administrator or committee legislative assistant that is planning the committee meeting you want to attend.
You may also request legislative interpreting services by contacting the Legislative Coordinating Commission at 651-296-9002, at 651-296-1121, or at 651-296-0099.
For CART services, contact the Legislative Coordinating Commission at 651-296-9002, at 651-296-1121 or at 651-296-0099. Please make your request a minimum of 36 hours before the service is needed.
The Minnesota Senate has sound reinforcement systems for use in hearings rooms in the Minnesota Senate Building. The systems, for the exclusive use of people who are deaf or hard of hearing, are available for the duration of a particular meeting and must be returned immediately following the meeting. Senate receivers may be signed out during normal business hours from the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms, room G-430, Minnesota Senate Building. For meetings lasting beyond normal business hours, receivers are to be returned to the committee staff. Call the Sergeant-at-Arms at 651-296-1119 for further information.
The Minnesota House has sound reinforcement systems in the 10 hearing rooms in the State Office Building and in the House Chamber. The systems, for the exclusive use of people who are deaf or hard of hearing, are available for the duration of a particular meeting and must be returned immediately following the meeting. House receivers may be signed out during normal business hours from the House Sergeants' Office, Room B-17, State Office Building. For meetings lasting beyond normal business hours, receivers are to be returned to the committee staff. Call the House Sergeant's Office at 651-296-4860 for further information.
Contact House Public Information Services in Room 175, State Office Building at 651-296-2146 or the Senate Information Office, Room 231 State Capitol at 651-296-0504 to learn who represents you in both the House and the Senate.
For additional resources, including searchable databases, see Who Represents Me? and the Geospatial Information Services website.
Yes. Here is a list of available services.
Audio and Video Archives
Media Services-Senate Audio Service
Legislative Reference Library Audio Archives (1991-2003)
For information on getting copies of House audio recordings, contact:
House Public Information Services (for House meetings), 651-296-2146
Senate Supply (for Senate meetings), 651-296-5720.
If an individual wishes to listen to the recording of a committee meeting or floor session, listening facilities are located in the Legislative Reference Library, 651-296-8338, Room 645, State Office Building.
Approval and coordination of special events and public rallies within Capitol Complex buildings and grounds is managed by the Department of Administration. Events and rallies will continue during the Minnesota State Capitol Restoration Project.
See also the FAQ: How do I schedule a press conference or reserve a room at the Capitol?
No, there is not a bulk email list available for Minnesota legislators. While email is an effective way to contact your representative or senator, it is best to address your concerns to the legislators that represent you.
Every member of the Legislature has an email address based on the member's name. For example, Representative Jane Doe's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Senator John Doe's email address is email@example.com.
To find out a specific member's email address, you can look several places. The House and Senate websites have pages for each member that includes his or her email address (Members of the House of Representatives and Minnesota Senators). The Official Directory of the Minnesota Legislature (often referred to as "the red book") and the Members Directory ("the green book") contain contact information, including email addresses, for all legislators. To receive a free copy of the red or green book, or to ask a member's email address, call either House Public Information Services at 651-296-2146 or Senate Information at 651-296-0504.
You can search for House bills or Senate bills by topic from 1995 to the present from the Bills page. Click on the link for the
Search House Bills
or for the
Search Senate Bills
for a search form. The keyword option allows you to search with keywords or phrases. You can also search by topics assigned to each bill from the
House Bill Information—Topic Search
page or from the
Senate Bill Information—Topic Search page.
How to Follow a Bill
is a helpful online guide to the process. For further information on this topic, see the Bills section of this FAQ.
If you do not have Internet access, there are public terminals in the Legislative Reference Library on the sixth floor of the State Office Building. The House and Senate Index Offices also track the status of current bills. They can help you find a particular piece of legislation. Call House Index at 651-296-6646 or Senate Index at 651-296-2887. To receive a copy of the bill once you locate it, call the Chief Clerk's Office in the House at 651-296-2314 or Senate Information at 651-296-0504.
For information about access to Capitol spaces contact the Department of Administration at 651-201-2300. To reserve a Senate hearing room, please fill out the Request for Use of Senate Facilities form. Contact the Senate Sergeant at Arms at 651-296-0866 with any questions. To reserve a House hearing room, please contact the House Speaker's Office at 651-296-0306.
See also the FAQ: Who do I contact to schedule an event at the Capitol?
It is a committee made up of members from each house appointed to reconcile the differences between two versions of a bill that has been passed by both bodies. Each conference committee has either three or five members from both the House and the Senate.
Each biennium the leaders in the House and the Senate set the number and scope of the standing committees and establish committee chairs according to which party is in the majority. Whichever party holds the most seats in either the House or the Senate is considered the Majority Caucus.
In the Senate the majority caucus elects a majority leader, who is also chair of the Rules and Administration Committee. Two other chairs are elected by the entire caucus, the chair of the Tax Committee and the Chair of the Finance Committee. Other chairs are selected by an organizational committee of the majority caucus. Membership on the committees is according to the proportion of each caucus. The minority caucus may offer suggestions of individual members for the minority representation on each committee. The minority caucus also names a "minority lead" on each committee. The Rules and Administration Subcommittee on Conference Committees selects members for conference ommittees. In addition, no Senator may serve as the chair of a specific committee or one under its jurisdiction for more than three Senate terms.
In the House, the Speaker chooses the committee chairs and appoints members of each committee. Each member is allowed to state his or her preference. In deciding on a committee chair, the speaker usually chooses a senior member with some expertise in the committee's work, but not always. A member cannot serve as the chair of the same standing committee or division during more than three consecutive regular biennial sessions. This Rule does not apply to service as chair of the Committee on Rules and Legislative Administration. Ideally, committee memberships reflect the balance of DFL and Republican members in the House. Each committee, therefore, would be a representative sample of the whole body. Conference committee members are also appointed by the Speaker.
In the House, committees range in size from 10 to 25 members. Each member usually serves on three to five committees so she or he is able to focus on a few areas of policy development.
Membership on Senate committees ranges from 11 to 20. Each member generally serves on five or six committees.
It is the job of each committee to hold public hearings on bills, to put each bill into its best form, and to recommend to the full body only those bills that the committee feels merit further consideration. The committee takes testimony from the public, bill sponsors, and experts in the areas the bill affects.
Committees have a number of choices for action, including the following: amending the bill, combining two or more bills under one file number, sending more detailed or complex bills to a subcommittee for further examination, recommending a bill to pass as introduced, recommending it be passed as amended, sending it to another committee with recommendation to pass, sending it to another committee without recommendation to pass, or killing the bill by voting it down, tabling it, delaying action, ignoring it, or returning it to its author.
Yes, all committee hearings are open to the public, including conference committee hearings. Use the Combined Legislative Meeting Calendar to find hearing times and locations.
Many hearings are live-streamed (some audio and some video) online or broadcast live on television. Recordings are also available online. Access live and recorded meetings on the Legislature's Multimedia page. For access to older recordings, consult the Library's page about audio and video recordings.
You can find schedule information on the Legislative website on the Schedules, Calendars, and Legislative Business page. Paper copies of daily and weekly schedules are available at House Public Information Services in Room 175 of the State Office Building. House Public Information can be reached at 651-296-2146. Paper copies of daily and weekly schedules are available through Senate Information, which is located in Room 231 of the Capitol and G204 of the Minnesota Senate Building. Senate Information can be reached at (651) 296-0504.
Except when specifically stated on a legislative page, anyone may view, copy, or distribute information found on a legislative website for personal or nonprofit use. A person or entity may not use any part of the information on a legislative website for commercial purposes or publish the information for commercial gain without proper attribution of source.
The Legislature makes no warranty that information on a legislative website is free from copyright claims or other restrictions or limitations on free use or display. While we do our utmost to make sure the information we provide on our website is accurate, once you take it off the site in its intended format, we cannot claim responsibility for the accuracy of any information you distribute from the sections.
Some of the information presented in this website may be protected by copyright. Permission to use that material must be obtained in advance from the office that created the information.
Contact the office that has created the web page you are interested in. You can often determine the page creator by looking at the heading of the page, or the web address for the page.
The Minnesota Legislature is committed to complying with the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act and supporting the goal that individuals with disabilities shall not be excluded from participating in or be denied the benefits of any program, service, or activity offered by the Legislature. The Legislature welcomes comments and suggestions on services that will improve communication between the Legislature and individuals with disabilities. Please direct comments to:
Legislative Coordinating Commission
Room 72, State Office Building
St. Paul, MN 55155.
For information on the Legislature's website accessibility, see the Website Accessibility page.
Hearing rooms in the Minnesota Senate Building and the State Office Building are accessible to individuals using wheelchairs.
The State Capitol is wheelchair accessible except for the roof. Please see the accessibility page of the Minnesota State Capitol website for more details.
The Capitol Complex has designated parking and entrance ramps to provide easy access to the buildings, including the Minnesota Senate Building, State Office Building, and Capitol. The Minnesota State Capitol Directions and Parking page has more detailed parking information.
Two wheelchairs are available, courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society, at the Capitol Information and Tour Center for visitor use in the State Capitol only. Wheelchairs are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Please contact the Minnesota Historical Society with questions: 651-259-3292.
Yes. The accessibility page on the Minnesota State Capitol website from the Minnesota Historical Society contains information such as entrances available for visitors with limited mobility and services available for visitors with hearing or visual impairment.
For more information, call: 651-259-3292
or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We continually refine our website in an effort to conform to accessibility standards and provide our online information in an accessible format.
Text Sizing: In most Internet browsers, pressing Ctrl + Plus Sign (+) increases text size, and Ctrl + Minus Sign (-) decreases text size. Pressing the Ctrl key while scrolling up or down with the mouse wheel will also change the text size in most browsers. Alternatively, click the menu at the top of your browser and look for the "zoom" or "text size" option. This will present you with choices for scaling the text to your preferred size.
PDFs: For PDFs that are created within an office of the legislature, alternate formats or accessibly tagged PDFs are offered, when possible. If an accessible format is not immediately possible, the legislature strives to support accessibility on a case-by-case basis. Bills, session laws, statutes, and rules are offered in HTML as an alternate format to PDF.
Video: Web cast programming is captioned. See the House video page for live and archived House web cast coverage and see the Senate Media Services page for live and archived Senate web cast coverage.
Assistive Technology for our website: Screen reader software is installed on select public access computers in the Legislative Reference Library, room 645, State Office Building (JAWS and NVDA) and the Legislative Reference Library, room 3238, Minnesota Senate Building (NVDA). For more information about assistive technology, please see the Minnesota Star Program website.
If you are having accessibility or usability problems with any Minnesota state government website or software or if you have used a state website or software that works especially well for people with disabilities, please send your comments to us by using the E-Government Usability/Accessibility Compliments and Concerns page
Additional accessibility information is available in the FAQ - Disability Access, which includes information about wheelchair-accessibility, services for people who are blind or visually impaired, and services for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, among other topics.
legislative intent: what the Legislature sought when it approved a specific law. See Minnesota Statutes 645.16 Legislative Intent Controls for further information.
session laws: the laws enacted at each session of the legislature, published in the approximate order of enactment. Session laws are generally referred to as the "Laws of Minnesota," with a citation to the chapter number for the year of enactment (for example, Laws of Minnesota 2014, chapter 145).
The daily journals, compiled by the Chief Clerk of the House and the Secretary of the Senate for their respective bodies, are the official records of legislative proceedings. The state constitution requires that the journal contain a record of all roll call votes. The journals record attendance, bill introductions, committee reports, amendments to bills, and reports of conference committees. In addition, it is the record of official communications between the two bodies, messages from the governor and protests filed by members.
Minnesota is a "journal entry state," which means that the journal is the final authority used by the courts concerning actions of the Legislature and in determining legislative intent. Therefore it is very important that the journal be complete and accurate.
The daily journal is printed at the end of each day's session and is made available online to members, staff and the public before the next day's session. Electronic versions of House Journals (since 1994) and Senate Journals (since 1996) are available on the Legislative website. The House and Senate journals are compiled into permanent publications following a legislative session.
It is a compilation of all the daily journals placed in one bound volume. The appropriate offices in the House and the Senate proofread, correct, index, and certify the journals before printing them in their permanent forms.
The permanent Journals of both the House and Senate are distributed to Senate and House members and staff, to depository libraries, constitutional offices, and some state offices.
Print copies of current session Journals are available to the public at the Secretary of the Senate's Office counter and the front desk of the House Chief Clerk's Office.
In addition, electronic versions of House Journals (since 1994) and Senate Journals (since 1996) are available on the Legislative website.
The Legislative Reference Library has current and historical printed Journals available for public use.
Some Journals from previous years are available for reference on a limited basis in the Senate Information Office, Room 231 State Capitol and Senate Index, Room 110 State Capitol and in the House Public Information Services, Room 175 State Office Building.
No. They are free. For more details, please see the FAQ: Where do I find Journals of the House and Senate?
A law is an idea, placed in bill form, that has passed both the House of Representatives and the Senate and has not been vetoed by the Governor.
Minnesota Statutes is a compilation of the general and permanent laws of the state, incorporating all new laws, amendments, or repeals of old law. It is printed every two years by the Revisor of Statutes Office. A supplement is issued in odd-numbered years to show changes made during that legislative session. The citation for laws contained in the supplement is "Minnesota Statutes 1989 Supplement, section 335.01." The statutes are also made available online at the Minnesota Legislature's website. The authenticated pdf version of each section is also an official version of the text, equivalent to the printed version. See Minnesota Statutes, chapter 3E.
Statutes are laws that apply to all citizens and cover a variety of topics, including the following: the Legislature, the executive branch, state departments, the judiciary and courts, tax policy, public safety and police authority, towns, cities, counties, commerce and trade, private property and private rights, civil injuries and remedies, and crimes against people and property and the penalties associated with them.
There are three definitions of a rule, depending on which branch of government you are referring to.
In the Legislature, rules refer to the regulating principles or methods of procedure. The Minnesota Constitution, Minnesota Statutes, Mason's Manual of Legislative Procedure, and custom and usage are all guidelines which determine legislative procedure. Each body adopts the rules under which it operates and the joint rules which govern joint conventions.
In the executive branch of state government, rules are operating principles or orders created by an office of the state under authority granted by the Legislature. These administrative rules have the force and effect of law.
Administrative rules are not enacted by the Legislature. Rather, the Legislature gives state agencies or units the authority to establish rules. For more information on the difference between rules and laws, visit the Web page About Minnesota Rules.
Minnesota Court Rules are rules adopted by the Supreme Court of Minnesota, governing legal proceedings in the various courts in the state. Other documents that are included here are the Sentencing Guidelines, which are promulgated by the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission and the Lawyer's Professional Responsibility Board Opinions.
The court rules also contain court orders, notes, and comments of the drafters.
Act is the official name for a bill that has been enrolled for presentation to the Governor. Each act is assigned a chapter number and is published in the bound volume called the Session Laws of the State of Minnesota.
This book serves as the only official record for temporary and special laws, such as laws for a specific unit of government or a law containing an appropriation. Those laws are not compiled in the Minnesota Statutes.
The term "laws" refers to all laws passed by the Legislature, which are subsequently bound in the Session Laws of that year. Statutes are a codification of the general and permanent laws, which are compiled and published every year as Minnesota Statutes or its supplement. By being codified into Minnesota Statutes, the laws are placed into the context of statutes that have been on the books in previous years.
Sometimes, it is difficult to understand a law unless it is placed into the proper context in Minnesota Statutes. But remember that not all laws will become statutes. Some laws, such as ones passed for a specific town or city, and appropriation measures, aren't included in Minnesota Statutes. So you won't find the appropriations made by the 2000 Legislature in the same set of books that contain the Minnesota statutes prohibiting drunk driving. The appropriation bills are probably the best examples of laws that aren't statutes.
Why are some laws not included in statutes? The main reason is that appropriation laws are applicable for only two years, whereas laws included in the statutes are intended to be permanent. And because local laws do not apply on a general level, they are not included in the statutes.
Administrative rules are promulgated in a very different manner than laws. Rules are created by executive branch state agencies and not by the legislature. However, executive branch state agencies only have the authority to adopt administrative rules when granted that authority by the legislature. The purpose of rules is to "implement or make specific the law enforced or administered by that agency or... govern its organization or procedure" (Minn. Stat. 14.02, subd. 4). Though laws and rules are distinct, and the process by which they come about is distinct, once rules are adopted they have the force and effect of law.
State agencies must follow a strict process when adopting rules. The rulemaking process is explained in detail in the Minnesota Administrative Procedure Act and in Rulemaking in Minnesota: A Guide, published by the Revisor of Statutes.
Laws of a general and permanent nature having statewide application are coded in Minnesota Statutes. Special acts and certain other legislation are found only in the Session Laws of the year in which enacted. In addition, there are federal laws, rules and regulations of state departments and agencies, and local ordinances and regulations.
If the law is a state law and if it is coded, it can be found by using the index to the Minnesota Statutes. A table showing local and special acts for a number of sessions can be found in volume 13 of the Minnesota Statutes. The table is arranged by the names of local units. Subject indexes in the journals of past legislative sessions may also be used. Minnesota Statutes and Session Laws are available online at the Legislature's website, which has a keyword search feature.
Unless a specific effective date is provided in the bill, the act will take effect on August 1 following its final enactment (see Minnesota Statute 645.02). Bills containing an item of appropriation, however, take effect on July 1. A special law which requires approval of a local government unit becomes effective on the day following the day the certificate of approval is filed with the Minnesota Secretary of State, unless a specific later date is specified in the act. Each act takes effect at 12:01 a.m. on the day it becomes effective, unless a different time is specified in the act.
Electronic versions of Minnesota Statutes and Session Laws are available on the Legislative website.
The Legislative Reference Library has current and historical printed Minnesota Statutes, and Session Laws available for public use.
Some Minnesota Statutes and Session Laws from previous years are available for reference on a limited basis in the Senate Information Office, Room 231 State Capitol and Senate Index, Room 110 State Capitol and in the House Public Information Services, Room 175 State Office Building.
For past versions of the Minnesota Statutes back to 1851, go to the Minnesota Statutes Archive page.
Two versions of Minnesota law published by the Revisor of Statutes are official publications:
1. The first official version consists of the printed and bound paper editions of Minnesota Statutes, Laws of Minnesota, and Minnesota Rules published annually by the Revisor's office. (See, Minnesota Statutes, sections 3C.06, 3C.08, 3C.11, 3C.13, and 14.47.)
2. The second official version consists of the online, authenticated PDFs of Minnesota statutes, laws, or rules, which have been designated as official records by the Revisor of Statutes under Minnesota Statutes, section 3E.04, subdivision 2.
Online versions of Minnesota law are available at https://www.revisor.mn.gov/pubs. To authenticate a PDF, click on the "authenticate" link located on the upper right side of a statute, law, or rule web page, and follow the prompts.
Historical information about the Minnesota Legislature is available from the Legislative Reference Library and the Minnesota Historical Society. A 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. For information on former members of the legislature, see Minnesota Legislators Past & Present, call the Legislative Library at 651-296-8338 or email the Library.
See the sample citations below, which are followed by notes on formatting.
Constitution: Minn. Const. art. IV, sec. 8
Minn. Const. art. IV, sec. 8, online. Accessed August 19, 2016.
Minnesota Statutes 2015, section 3.302, subdivision 3
Minnesota Statutes 2015, section 3.302, subdivision 3, online. Accessed August 19, 2016.
MINN. STAT. 3.302 (2015)
MINN. STAT. ANN. 3.302 (2015)
Laws of Minnesota 1988, chapter 469, article 1, section 1
Laws of Minnesota 1988, chapter 469, article 1, section 1, online. Accessed August 19, 2016.
Laws of Minnesota 1985, 1st Spec. Sess. chapter 13, article 1, section 61
1988 Minn. Laws xxx (note: xxx is a page #)
Minnesota Rules 2015, part 1400.2070, subpart 2, item C
Minnesota Rules, part 1400.2070, subpart 2, item C, online. Accessed August 19, 2016.
MINN. R. 1400.2070 (2015)
Minn. S.F. 123 art. 4, sec. 5. (2015), online. Accessed August 19, 2016.
Minn. Sen. J., 89th Leg., Reg. Sess. xxx (2016) (note: xxx is a page #)
Minn. H.J., 89th Leg., Reg. Sess. xxx (2016) (note: xxx is a page #)
Minn. Sen., Floor Debate, 81st Minn. Leg., Reg. Sess. (Feb. 10, 2000) (Sen. recording tape no. 1, side A.)
Minn. H., Floor Debate, 81st Minn. Leg., Reg. Sess. (Feb. 8, 2000) (H. recording tape no. 2, side B.)
Minn. Sen., Floor Debate, 89th Minn. Leg., Reg. Sess. (May 23, 2016), available at: http://mnsenate.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=2 (audio)
Minn. Sen., Floor Debate, 89th Minn. Leg., Reg. Sess. (May 23, 2016), available at: http://mnsenate.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=1 (video web media)
Minn. H., Floor Debate, 89th Minn. Leg., Reg. Sess. (May 22, 2016, part 2), available at: http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/htv/archivesHFS.asp?ls_year=89 (video web media)
Minn. Sen., Hearing on S.F. 123 before the Sen. Comm. on Taxes, 81st Minn. Leg., Reg. Sess. (Feb. 8, 2000) (Sen. recording tape no. 1, side B.)
Minn. H., Hearing on H.F. 456 before the H. Comm. on Taxes, 81st Minn. Leg., Reg. Sess. (Feb. 8, 2000) (H. recording tape no. 1, side B.)
Minn. Sen., Hearing on S.F. 2374 before the Sen. Comm. on Taxes, 89th Minn. Leg., Reg. Sess. (April 5, 2016), available at: http://mnsenate.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=1 (video web media)
Minn. H., Hearing on H.F. 3594 before the H. Comm. on Taxes, 89th Minn. Leg., Reg. Sess. (April 21, 2016), available at: http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/cmte/archiveAV/cmtearchives.aspx?comm=89023&ls_year=89 (video web media)
In some instances, two citation formats are listed:
If you consult Minnesota's legal materials online, cite them in a way that makes that clear. A citation to online material will usually include three elements:
Section numbers, or coding, may be proposed in a bill for a new law, or in a bill which provides for adding a new section to a chapter of the statutes. However, coding may be added or changed by the Revisor of Statutes when necessary. Coding is technical in nature and is done at the time of editing and publishing the statutes. Each chapter of the statutes covers a broad subject and has a number. Sections under that chapter have the same number followed by a decimal point and another number.
Divisions of both Session Laws and Minnesota Statutes may be called chapters, but a reference to Minnesota Statutes will usually be to a section number. For example, chapter 335 of the statutes will be divided into sections, perhaps beginning with 335.01. The proper citation for this would be "Minnesota Statutes, section 335.01" or "Minnesota Statutes 1990, section 335.01." The numbers at the end of a section represent the history of that particular section. For example, [1959 c 67 s 3; 1963 c 861 s 10; 1974 c 370 s20] means that the section was new in 1959 and was contained in the Laws of Minnesota 1959, chapter 67, section 3. It was amended in Laws 1963, chapter 861, section 10, and amended again in Laws 1974, chapter 370, section 20. If you look up those chapters of those particular Session Laws, you will find what changes were made.
Sets and individual volumes of Minnesota Laws, Statutes, and Rules
are available from Minnesota's Bookstore in St. Paul. They can be
ordered at their store located at 660 Olive Street, Saint Paul MN
55155; by phone (651-297-3000 or 1-800-657-3757), by mail; or online.
According to Minnesota Statutes 10A.01, Subdivision 21, "Lobbyist" means an individual
"Lobbyist" does not include
At the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board
190 Centennial Office Building,
658 Cedar Street
St. Paul, MN 55155
The Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board's website provides a list of currently registered lobbyists in Minnesota.
Legislators are required to pass judgment on hundreds of topics each session, making it nearly impossible to keep abreast of all the complex issues. That's when they turn to the lobbyists—particularly ones who have provided reliable information in the past. And, because lobbyists represent so many varied interests, all sides of an issue are explored. In addition, testimony by the general public, who have taken time out of their busy schedules to come to a legislative hearing, is also an effective method of involvement in the legislative process.
The state constitution requires that each bill be reported on three separate days in each body before votes for final passage can occur. These reports of the bill are called readings. Therefore, every bill will have a first, second, and third reading before a vote is taken.
A bill is given its first reading at the time it is introduced. A bill typically receives its second reading after it has been heard in committee and has been recommended to pass. It is then ready to be placed on one of the calendars or agendas in each house.
Once all proposed amendments have been discussed and voted on, a bill receives its third reading and can no longer be amended. Then members discuss the bill and it proceeds to final vote.
Under extraordinary conditions, a bill may receive all three readings in one day in either the House or the Senate if a motion to bypass the rules of the body receives a two-thirds majority vote.
The Committee of the Whole is the entire membership of the Senate acting as one large committee to consider bills listed on General Orders. There is no longer a Committee of the Whole in the House. In the Senate, the president may appoint another member to preside and act as chair of the Committee of the Whole. Each bill on General Orders must be printed or electronically available at least one calendar day before consideration in the Committee of the Whole. The members debate the bill, offer and adopt amendments, and vote to recommend that the bill pass, pass as amended, be re-referred to another committee, or be returned to its author.
It remains on the General Orders and may be taken up again at a later date.
These rules govern the procedures of each body and the acceptable conduct of each member. According to the state constitution, the Legislature must establish its own rules and procedure. As a result, both the House and the Senate establish their own rules, as well as joint rules. New rules are adopted each biennium.
The rule-drafting process actually begins very early in the legislative session. Both the House and the Senate have rules subcommittees to put together proposed rules. Then the proposed rules are presented to the entire body for approval. Until the new permanent rules are adopted, the House and Senate adopt the rules from the previous session as temporary rules.
The Senate is authorized to give its advice and consent on executive appointments under Minnesota Statute 15.066. Appointments made by the Governor to state agencies that require confirmation by the Senate are referred to the appropriate committees. The Engrossing Secretary processes governor's appointments for Senate approval and fields any questions. Lists of appointees are available for current and past bienniums.
In both houses, the process a bill follows may be accelerated in the interest of time. In the Senate, this happens through Rule 26 and Special Orders. Rule 26 provides for immediate consideration and third reading of bills that have been given their second reading, rather than having to go through the Committee of the Whole and waiting an entire day before it can be taken up. Under Rule 26, the chair of the Committee on Rules and Administration or the chair's designee can designate a bill that has been given a second reading as a Special Order. At that point, the bill can be amended and discussed before being given its third reading and placed on final passage.
A Legislator's salary is $45,000 per year (see the Compensation of Minnesota Legislators, 1872 - present page). They are also allowed to collect a per diem for living and travel expenses seven days a week during the regular legislative session. For more information, see the House Research Department publication State Elected Officials Compensation.
The Minnesota Legislature has 67 senators and 134 representatives for a total of 201 members. The State of Minnesota is divided into 67 legislative districts, with about 79,163 people in each district. Voters elect one senator from each of these 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 39,582 people each, are identified with an "A" or a "B."
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 2010 or 2000, 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.
The vacancy is filled by a special election called by the governor.
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 May and June of the election year, and pay a fee. The Office of the Secretary of State has information on election laws, election calendars, voter lists, and more on their Elections and Voting page of their website.
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.
The state constitution provides that members cannot be arrested while the Legislature is in session or when they are on their way to or from session, except in cases of felony, treason, or breach of the peace (see Sec. 10. Privilege from arrest). This privilege applies to misdemeanors or gross misdemeanors, excluding what the courts consider a breach of the peace. (Examples: assault or threatened assault, breaking and entering, driving while intoxicated, speeding, violent verbal attacks, or other acts that cause serious harm to people in the vicinity.)
The privilege only prevents detaining a member during session; it does not provide immunity from prosecution after session ends. The protection is not automatic. A member can either assert the privilege in court or choose to waive it.
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".
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 website 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.
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. A historical data web page is available with facts on House and Senate leadership, party control, sessions, vetoes, women in the Legislature, and more.
Here are some ideas for using the Minnesota Legislative website and other sites to find information on important issues facing the Minnesota Legislature.
The Legislative History guide provides instructions on following a specific bill through the legislative process.
Status information and the full text of bills introduced in the Minnesota Legislature are available within hours of introduction. You can search for bills by bill number, author, chief author, statutory citation, topic, committee, bill action, and by keyword in the bill's description.
Staff from the House Research Department, the nonpartisan research and legal services office for the House of Representatives, summarize significant and/or lengthy bills on their Bill Summaries page.
They provide summaries of bills that are enacted on their Act Summaries page.
Staff from Senate Counsel and Research, the nonpartisan research and legal services office for the Minnesota Senate, summarize selected bills on their Bill Summaries page.
They provide summaries of bills that are enacted on their Act Summaries page.
House committees and Senate committees have web pages that give updates on issues.
See the House Journals and the Senate Journals for the daily record of a legislative session.
Current and past statutes and session laws can be found on the Revisor of Statutes page Statutes, Laws, and Rules.
The House Research department has a variety of reports and tools to aid in legislative research.
Senate Counsel and Research publishes a number of Reports and Treatises on their site.
Reports on fiscal issues, state finance spreadsheets, and Money Matters (a newsletter with features on various aspects of state finance), can be found on the House Fiscal Analysis Department website.
The Office of the Legislative Auditor Program Evaluation Division evaluates state government programs and agencies and helps to ensure accountability for the expenditure of public funds. Studies are conducted at the request of the Legislature, but all reports are available to the public.
The library collection includes public policy reports and a comprehensive collection of state documents. Search it via the LRL catalog. The full text of many reports is available online.
Library staff prepare guides to information on selected legislative issues. The Minnesota Issues Resource Guides list important reports and articles, sometimes give timelines, and give contacts for further information.
Library staff compile lists of Internet sites by public policy topic—highlighting Minnesota resources—on their Links to the World pages.
Minnesota.gov links to state agency websites, which may include statistics and reports on major issues, including education, crime, and the environment. It also links to the Governor's website.
Both the House and Senate allow you to subscribe to those lists on the Legislature's website. Schedules are sent via e-mail on a daily basis during the session and weekly during the interim. For the House, go to Subscribe to House Mailing Lists and follow the instructions. In the Senate, go to the Senate Email List Subscription Form. You will receive an e-mail welcoming you to the lists with instructions about unsubscribing. In addition, you can subscribe to most House and Senate committees for updates and agenda items.
According to Minnesota Statute 3.011, the legislature shall meet at the seat of government on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in January of each odd-numbered year. When the first Monday in January falls on January 1, it shall meet on the first Wednesday after the first Monday. It shall also meet when called by the governor to meet in special session. In the even numbered years, it convenes on a date set by joint agreement of both bodies. The state constitution limits the Legislature to meeting 120 legislative days during each biennium. In addition, the Legislature may not meet in regular session after the first Monday following the third Saturday in May of any year. For constitutional provisions concerning the length of session and special sessions, see Minnesota Constitution, Article IV - Legislative Department).
During this time, the House or the Senate may not adjourn for more than three days without the consent of the other body.
Minnesota law defines a legislative day as one on which either the House or Senate is in session. Committee activity alone does not constitute a legislative day. A legislative day begins at 7 a.m. and continues until 7 a.m. of the following calendar day.
There are four possible things people are referring to when they refer to the legislative session.
First is the biennial session that begins on the first Tuesday after the first Monday of January in an odd-numbered year and ends no later than the first Monday after the third Saturday in May of the even-numbered year. The 2015-2016 session is a biennial session.
The next definition of a session is the yearly session, which begins on the day the Legislature assembles and ends on the day it adjourns for the year.
Daily sessions, which adjourn each day, are any time the House or Senate meet on the floor of their respective chambers. At such times, both bodies are referred to as "in session."
Finally, a special session is one called by the governor at a time other than a regularly scheduled session. The legislature, however, determines the length and purpose of any such session.
For further information, see the House Research publications Regular Sessions of the Minnesota Legislature and Special Sessions of the Minnesota Legislature.
The Minnesota Legislature meets each year, functioning on a two-year cycle called a biennium. The first year of the biennium is called the "long year," and lasts from January to mid-May. The second year is called the "short year," and typically runs from February through the end of April.
Since 1973, the Minnesota Legislature has met in session every year, the result of a 1972 constitutional amendment, which allowed for "flexible sessions." The 1972 amendment did not require annual sessions of the Legislature. Rather, it just allowed for them to happen.
When the Minnesota Constitution was written in 1857, it placed no limit on the number of days the Legislature could meet in session and did not prohibit the Legislature from meeting each year. Three years later, sessions were limited to 60 days in length. Until 1877, the Legislature met each year. It was in 1877 that the Minnesota Constitution was amended to provide for biennial sessions with a limit of 60 days. In 1888, the number of days was increased to 90, and in 1962, increased again to the current 120 days.
From 1877 until 1973, when lawmakers redefined the term, legislative days were measured consecutively, meaning that the clock began ticking the moment the Legislature convened, excluding Sundays. Exactly 120 calendar days (plus Sundays) after convening, the Legislature had to adjourn. Following the passage of the 1972 amendment, lawmakers in 1973 redefined a legislative day as only those days when either the House or Senate met in full session. Days on which only committees meet are not considered official legislative days. This definition of "day" left the 120-day constitutional maximum untouched, but allowed lawmakers to spread the days over a two-year period. This 'flexible' system is unique in the United States.
For historical information on Minnesota legislative sessions, see Sessions of the Minnesota State Legislature and the Minnesota Territorial Legislature and Special Sessions of the Minnesota Legislature and the Minnesota Territorial Legislature.
It was the intention of lawmakers that the first year of the biennium be used for the "major financial planning of the State," according to the Joint Committee on Flexible Sessions report compiled in 1972. The committee viewed the second year of the biennium as "one of budget review; action on the results of interim studies; consideration of emergency measures and the result of the evaluation of the needs of the State; and action on business left over from the first session, as well as on late bills resulting from implementation of deadlines."
Sine die is Latin for "without a day." Adjournment without setting a definite date for meeting again is called adjournment sine die. It signifies the end of a biennial legislative session or a special session.
As of January 2018, the House of Representatives had a staff complement of 233 permanent positions. In addition, the House employed temporary staff during the legislative session. The Senate employed 203 staff members. The joint offices, including the Office of the Legislative Auditor, the Revisor of Statutes, the Legislative Reference Library, and the joint commissions, employed 139 full-time and 5 temporary employees.
There are partisan and non-partisan jobs available in both the House and the Senate. Each caucus in the House and Senate employs partisan staff to work for representatives and senators, meet constituent requests, provide media services, and administer committees. The following non-partisan offices exist in both houses: public information, television services, publications, indexes, journals, clerks, pages, research, legal counsel, and fiscal services.
Since legislative employees work for the state, the salaries for those positions are public information. You can obtain salary information from House Budget & Accounting (651-296-4281), Senate Fiscal Services (651-296-2339), or the Legislative Coordinating Commission Fiscal Service Office (651-296-1121).
Jobs are posted at the Capitol Complex and on the Legislature's website on the Employment Opportunities page. This Web page provides links to job opportunities in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, as well as postings for the joint offices of the Legislative Coordinating Commission, which includes the Legislative Reference Library and the Revisor of Statutes. In addition, jobs are posted for the House in House Human Resources in Room 185 of the State Office Building. Senate jobs are posted outside Human Resources in Room 233 of the Capitol. In the House, call 651-297-8200 for more information and call Human Resources 651-296-9321 in the Senate. Information on jobs in the joint departments is available from the Legislative Coordinating Commission by calling 651-296-9002.
The Minnesota State Capitol is located on the north side of downtown St. Paul. It is accessible from the east and west on I-94, and from the north and south on I-35E.
Minnesota State Capitol (map)
75 Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55155
Parking information is available on the directions and parking page of the Minnesota State Capitol website from the Minnesota Historical Society. The accessibility page of the Capitol website has links to accessible parking information and maps. Parking rates are listed on the parking page of the Minnesota State Capitol Restoration Project website.
Keep in mind that parking is very limited during the legislative session (January-May). You may want to consider public transportation. Both the Metro Transit bus line and the Green Line light rail have stops near the Capitol.
Indoor guided and self-guided tours are available.
The only people admitted on the floor of the Senate Chamber are members of the Senate and House, constitutional officers, ex-governors of Minnesota, judges of the Trial and Appellate Courts, members of Congress, members of the press, and Senate staff.
See also the FAQ: Are visitors allowed to attend sessions of the Senate and House?
The only people admitted on the floor of the House Chamber are members of the House and Senate, constitutional officers, ex-governors of Minnesota, judges of the Trial and Appellate Courts, members of Congress, members of the press, and House staff. In addition, some allowances are made for special visitors to go onto the House floor.
Yes. Public galleries are accessible from the third floor of the Capitol. No passes are required except for opening day and when the Legislature meets in joint session. The Sergeant-at-Arms may be contacted for seats for groups in the galleries. No visitors are allowed on the floor of the Senate. Some visitors are allowed on the House floor, but they must obtain permission. No smoking is permitted on the floor of the Senate, the House, or in the galleries. Public photos are prohibited. Staff photographers in both the House and Senate are allowed to shoot proceedings. Applause, demonstrations, and food and beverages are also prohibited in the galleries.
There are no restrictions for taking photographs in the Capitol - including using tripods/monopods or flash photography.
The only exception is for someone trying to set-up a photo shoot where a lot of equipment is required (i.e. Stand-alone lighting, taking up public space for a length of time, etc.). In that situation, permission is required. Contact the Minnesota Department of Administration's Facilities Management Office (651-201-2300).
The Rathskeller Café (Capitol cafeteria), located in the basement, is open during the legislative session. Cafeterias in other Capitol Complex buildings are open year-round. The cafeterias closest to the Capitol building are in the Centennial Office Building and the Transportation Building. Weekly menus are available online.
Below are links to maps to help you navigate the Capitol Complex area.
State Capitol Complex Visitor Map (PDF)
Full map of all buildings, parking facilities and public transportation locations in the Capitol Complex.
State Capitol Building Visitor Map (PDF)
Map of immediate vicinity of the Capitol building and the nearest parking facilities, disability parking, and transportation locations.
Interactive Map of the Capitol Area (Web page)
Click on a location to get directions via Google Maps.
There are lactation rooms available in the Capitol, Minnesota Senate Building, and the State Office Building.
Capitol - Room 104A is the Mother's Room. It is located on the first floor of the Capitol Building near the elevators/stairwell between the North and West corridors.
Minnesota Senate Building - Two rooms are available: G007 and G008. They are each labeled "Nursing Mother Room" and are located on the ground floor across from the double elevators.
State Office Building - One room is available. A key can be requested from House Human Resources on the first floor. During the legislative session the room is in high demand, so there may be a wait to access it.
A bill must receive a majority of the votes in both houses—68 in the House and 34 in the Senate. Capital Investment bills require a three-fifths majority vote—81 representatives and 41 senators.
There is a set of buttons on the desk of every representative and senator—a green one for a "yes" vote and a red one for a "no" vote. Roll-call votes are recorded electronically and are visible on a board on each side of the Senate Chamber and the House Chamber. A roll-call vote, where every member's vote is recorded, is required for the final passage of a bill or conference committee report. However, in order to have a roll-call vote for an amendment or, in the Senate, a bill on General Orders, a member must request a roll-call and be supported by a certain number of members. Otherwise, votes are taken by voice, in which case only the outcome of the vote is officially recorded in the House or Senate Journal. All roll-call votes are recorded in the House or Senate Journal.