Governor Mark Dayton announced last week that he will appoint Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith to fill out the term U.S. Senator Al Franken plans to vacate in early January. Article V of the Minnesota Constitution states, "the last elected presiding officer of the senate shall become lieutenant governor in case a vacancy occurs in that office." Since 1974, the governor and lieutenant governor have been elected jointly—rather than separately--and have been of the same party. This change was the result of a constitutional amendment question on the ballot in 1972.
Current Senate President Michelle Fischbach is a Republican and Governor Mark Dayton is a Democrat, raising the question—how many instances in Minnesota’s history have the governor and the lieutenant governor been from different political parties?
Using lists of governors and lieutenant governors from the Legislative Reference Library and Minnesota Historical Society, Legislative Reference Library staff found five time periods when the two positions were held by individuals of different parties.
1899-1901 Governor John Lind was a Populist-Democratic-Silver-Republican when he served as governor from January 2, 1899 to January 7, 1901. Governor Lind served his entire term with Republican Lieutenant Governor Lyndon Smith although Lieutenant Governor Smith’s tenure extended until January 5, 1903.
1905-1909 Two Republican lieutenant governors served under a Democratic governor. Governor John A. Johnson served from 1905 until his death on September 21, 1909. Governor Johnson’s two Republican lieutenant governors were Ray W. Jones (January 5, 1903 to January 7, 1907) and Adolph O. Eberhart (January 7, 1907 to September 25, 1909).
1915 Democratic Governor Winfield Hammond’s brief, one-year tenure as governor (January 5 to December 30, 1915) was in tandem with Republican Lieutenant Governor J.A.A. Burnquist. Burnquist began serving as lieutenant governor two years earlier on January 7, 1913. Governor Hammond’s death on December 30 elevated Burnquist to governor and Sen. George Sullivan, also a Republican, to lieutenant governor.
1936-1937 Farmer-Labor Governor Hjalmar Petersen served from August 24, 1936 until January 4, 1937 with Republican Lieutenant Governor William B. Richardson. The pair were elevated to their positions due to the death of Governor Floyd B. Olson. William Richardson was not sworn into the position of lieutenant governor and served concurrently in the Minnesota Senate. Although Hjalmar Petersen served as a Farmer-Labor governor, he ran for other offices under different parties. Before he ran for the Minnesota Legislature he had been a member of the Republican Party. Later in his career, he was an unsuccessful candidate for the Republican Party endorsement for governor in 1946 and an unsuccessful candidate for the Democratic-Farmer-Labor endorsement to run for the U.S. Senate in 1958.
1961-1963 From January 3, 1955 until January 8, 1963, Democratic-Farmer-Labor Lieutenant Governor Karl Rolvaag served under two governors--one of a different party. Rolvaag first served under fellow DFL Governor Orville Freeman from January 5, 1955 to January 2, 1961. He then served under Republican Governor Elmer Andersen from January 2, 1961 until January 8, 1963. The gubernatorial recount kept Republican Governor Elmer Andersen in office between January 8, 1963, when DFL Lieutenant Governor A.M Keith took office, and March 25, 1963, when Karl Rolvaag was deemed the winner. Once again, the governor and lieutenant governor were of the same party.
See the Library's President and President Pro Tempore of the Minnesota Senate list for other instances of Presidents of the Senate becoming lieutenant governors through succession.
See the Smart Politics blog post, Minnesota On Eve of Rare Governor and Lieutenant Governor Partisan Split, for an analysis of the amount of time the top two constitutional offices in Minnesota have been occupied by members of different political parties.
(We made every effort to be complete. Please notify the Library if you have additions or errors to report.)
The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) designated December 4-8 as Legislative Staff Week. NCSL's staff section of librarians, the Legislative Research Librarians, is a tight group. Legislative librarians around the country use the listserv nearly daily to gain insight into other states' processes and gather state-by-state legislative information on behalf of legislators and staff in their own state.
The legislative librarians' group has a long history--even longer than NCSL. An NCSL guide summarizes: "The impetus for LRL came from librarians who began meeting informally at the National Legislative Conference's Annual Meeting in 1968. In 1975, when NCSL was established, LRL had already been together for seven years. In 1978, LRL adopted bylaws and became an independent NCSL staff section."
Legislative libraries also have a long history. Charles McCarthy was a college football star who was hired as a state documents librarian by the Wisconsin Free Library Commission in 1901. McCarthy’s vision far exceeded the role assigned to him and he immediately began providing extensive assistance in obtaining information legislators needed. His service vision was a radical departure from the more traditional vision of libraries that focused more on collections. While he actively pursued a wide range of materials, especially current newspapers and magazines, the services he provided, including bill drafting, were heavily utilized and greatly appreciated by Wisconsin legislators. For more information, read this article about Charles McCarthy in State Legislatures or an article about the Minnesota and Wisconsin legislative libraries in Jottings & Digressions.
One group of legislative staff has an even longer history--the American Society of Legislative Clerks and Secretaries was established in 1943. Most of the eight other staff sections were established in the mid-1970s.
The legislative librarians have come to Minnesota twice in recent history. The Minnesota Legislative Reference Library hosted the NCSL Legislative Research Librarians professional development seminar in 2009 and also hosted the librarians as part of NCSL's Legislative Summit in Minneapolis in 2014.
The Senate’s annual Fiscal Review is one of the most heavily used publications in the Legislative Reference Library. The Library’s paper copies are lovingly worn and the digital archive, reaching back to the first publication in 1975, is an invaluable resource.
The 2017 Fiscal Review is the 40th edition, but you can’t quite call this an annual publication. It wasn't published in 2004 for reasons that are a mystery. And anyone who can recall the state's financial situation in the early 1980s will understand why there was just one published for the years 1981-1984 with a revision published the next year. Extreme budget shortfalls required two regular sessions and six special sessions in one biennium to resolve. Librarians always start with the 1981-1984 edition when asked questions about this complex period of budget crisis.
To celebrate the recent release of the 2017 edition of Fiscal Review, the office of Senate Counsel, Research and Fiscal Analysis invites you to the satellite office of the Legislative Reference Library (3238 MSB) on Wednesday, September 27th at 10:30 am. Doughnuts will be served!
The Minnesota Legislative Reference Library would like to give a special thanks to the Senate Media team for choosing to feature the Legislative Reference Library (LRL) on the Senate’s Capitol Report program. They explored the library and spoke with librarians, seeking the uniqueness of the LRL’s services and collections. The resulting video introduces the viewer to the library and to the role it plays in the legislative process.
Since its establishment in 1969, the library has been the depository of reports mandated by the Legislature. The LRL is also required to identify and collect reports and publications produced by state government offices, and houses important legislative records including committee minute books. Our website links users to a wealth of information. From historical data to current events, our print and electronic collections—the premier Minnesota public policy collection--provide a permanent historical record of Minnesota’s state government.
The LRL staff’s primary focus is the information needs of legislators and legislative staff--and the specialized services we offer to help them keep up with ever-changing issues. While the Legislature is our priority, the Legislative Library and its unique collection, services, and website are available to all Minnesotans and are used by people around the state and country.
Each day, experienced, knowledgeable librarians receive numerous questions, some simple and others challenging; we direct users to information resources; we connect people to other agencies and organizations; we dive into Minnesota’s history and follow breaking news on Twitter—all part of the effort to provide the best service we can, to successfully fulfill our role in the Minnesota legislative process.
The video about the LRL, along with many other informative and educational Senate Media productions, is posted on YouTube as a part of its Capitol Report program and their Elements of Democracy Playlist.
Since 2004, all Minnesota House and Senate hearings and floor debates have been digitally recorded and archived. Researching legislation prior to 2004 requires a trip to the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library (LRL) or to the Minnesota Historical Society (MHS)--or both--to listen to audiotapes.
But soon that will change! In 2017, the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library received an appropriation to digitize 28,000 tapes of legislative committee hearings and floor debates. The Library is seeking proposals by July 14, 2017 for the digitization of the audiotape collection. Further details are available in the request for proposal.
The House and Senate began recording all committee hearings and floor sessions in the mid-1970s. The tapes were collected by LRL and, when space became an issue, older tapes were gradually transferred to MHS. By the early 1990s many of the tapes were deteriorating and a number of years of tapes were destroyed. The Minnesota Historical Society can no longer accommodate the 18,000 tapes currently housed there and began making plans several years ago to return the tapes to the Legislative Reference Library. The 2017 appropriation allows the digitization of all existing legislative hearing and floor debate tapes. Digitization of these auditotapes will make the primary records of the Legislature accessible to anyone at any time and preserves these recordings into the future.