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Representative Lyndon Carlson recently announced his intention to retire from the Legislature at the end of the 2019-2020 session. He became both the longest-serving legislator and the longest serving member of the Minnesota House of Representatives on January 3, 2017, and remains so today. His record will be hard to beat.

By the time he retires in January 2021, he will have served more than 17,500 days, nearly three years longer than the second longest-serving members. There's a three-way tie for second place among three former members: Reps. Carl Iverson, Phyllis Kahn, and Sen. Anton Rockne all served 16,072 days. 

Our service timeline is another way to look at terms of service for current members. This timeline helps visualize things like which members entered the legislature in the same year and which members have served in both chambers. 

Several other long-serving legislators have also announced their retirements, and we track these announcements on our legislative retirements page

Executive Branch Organization

By Elizabeth Lincoln, Molly Riley, and Elaine Settergren

Throughout Minnesota's history, executive branch agencies have come, gone, or been altogether re-worked as the needs of the state and the demands on state government change. Agencies that today we take for granted as long standing entities haven't always been around.

Take for example the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) which has, by that name, only been around since 1976. But of course the state was engaged in transportation matters long before the 1970s. 

A state constitutional amendment passed by voters in 1898 authorized the legislature to provide the governor authority to appoint three members to a new State Highway Commission. The legislature took no action until 1905; the State Highway Commission was organized in 1906. About ten years later, in 1917, the legislature abolished the commission and in its place created the Minnesota Department of Highways. That group existed until 1976, when MnDOT, as we refer to it today, was established. 

It's not just the legislature who plays a role in shaping the structure and duties of state government. Since 1969, the Commissioner of the Department of Administration has had the authority, under Minn. Stat. 16B.37, to "transfer personnel, powers, or duties from [one] state agency to another." These transfers are formally made through Executive Branch Reorganization Orders.

Use of these orders has dropped significantly over time, each decade seeing about half the orders as the previous decade: 

Graph showing Reorganization Orders by decade. 108 in the 1970s; 51 in the 1980s; 23 in the 1990s; 13 in the 2000s; and 2 in the 2010s.

But the Legislative Reference Library received one this summer after a nine year hiatus. Reorganization Order #197 transfers some staff and duties from the Bureau of Mediation Services to the Department of Administration. The House Research Department further summarizes this authority in their publication Executive Branch Transfer Authority (2010).

Another set of executive branch documents in the Library's collection are Executive Orders, which also play a role in the work of state government. Often, governors use these orders to create ad-hoc task forces or advisory councils to study and make recommendations about an issue facing the state. A good example from this year is Executive Order 19-02, which established the Governor's Blue Ribbon Council on Information Technology. Though the groups created by executive orders aren't at the level of executive branch departments, they often play a role in informing the work of a department or providing recommendations to the legislature.

READ Posters

By Elizabeth Lincoln

Senator Dahms is pictured in front of a backdrop of the Minnesota State Capitol while holding the book John Adams by author David McCullough.  The word READ is spelled out in all capital letters at the top of the image. David Bowie is featured in jeans and a high school letter jacket reading The Idiot by Dostoevsky in front of a white background. Large red letters at the top spell out READ. Representative Kristin Bahner is pictured in front of a backdrop of the Minnesota State Capitol while holding the electronic book Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen.  The word READ is spelled out in all capital letters at the top of the image. The American Library Association created their popular celebrity READ posters in 1985.  Bette Midler, Paul Newman, and Steve Martin were featured in some of the earliest posters, but you're most likely to remember the classic 1987 poster featuring David Bowie, which graced the walls of many public and high school libraries.

The Minnesota Library Association recently paid a visit to the State Capitol and photographed nineteen House and Senate members with favorite books for their own series of READ posters.  Around here, these might become the David Bowie posters of their time!

The legislators featured are Rep. Paul Anderson, Rep. Kristin Bahner, Rep. Jamie Becker-Finn, Rep. Robert Bierman, Sen. Karla Bigham, Rep. Greg Boe, Sen. Jim Carlson, Rep. Jack Considine, Sen. Gary Dahms, Sen. Scott Dibble, Rep. Rob Ecklund, Sen. Nick Frentz, Rep. Bud Nornes, Rep. Mary Kunesh-Podein, Rep. Fue Lee, Rep. John Petersburg, Rep. Dean Urdahl, Sen. Chuck Wiger, and Rep. Dan Wolgamott.  Come see which books they chose as their favorites--and which legislator is featured with his own published work of fiction.

The READ posters will be on display in the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library (State Office Building location) until summer. 


It's a Budget Year

By Molly Riley

chartMarch in an odd-numbered year is a perfect time to remind you of the Library’s state budget resources. We regularly compile historical resources that provide context and perspective on issues of importance to the legislature and state government. Two new resources we published this fall provide historical perspective on the state budget.

Major Appropriation and Finance Bills and Laws, 1995-present is a handy resource this year. Relying on sources from the House Fiscal Analysis Department, Senate Counsel, Research, and Fiscal Analysis, and the Library's vetoes database, we compiled a chronological list of major appropriation and finance bills and laws from 1995 to the present, including bills that received line item or full vetoes. This page makes it easy to pull up transportation finance bills from the past ten years, or to compare a vetoed version of an omnibus appropriations bill with the one that was signed into law.

The second resource to note is our Minnesota Governor's Proposed Biennial Operating Budget page, which includes digital versions of proposed operating budget documents back to the late 1990s. (Older proposed operating budgets are also available in print in the Library.) This page provides quick access to Governor Walz’ proposed budget documents for FY2020-2021, alongside those of former governors. These two new pages complement our Minnesota Governor’s Proposed Capital Budget page, which includes digital versions of all proposed capital budget documents back to 1975.

This winter has been brutal!  Stop by the Legislative Reference Library on the 3rd floor of the Minnesota Senate Building for glimpses of beautiful summer scenes for a reprieve from the snow and dark!

'Sweet Summer,' Carol Blackburn's collection of evocative summer nature photographs, will be on display until summer arrives.  Carol is a longtime LRL librarian and a freelance photographer in her spare time.

This is the fourth art exhibit the Senate location of the Legislative Reference Library since the opening of the Minnesota Senate Building in early 2016.  Please stop by!