By Elaine Settergren
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!
Books & Reports
By Elaine Settergren & Carol Blackburn
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.
By Elizabeth Lincoln
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.
By Carol Blackburn
A question legislative librarians are often asked in the waning days of legislative sessions is, "Can the Minnesota Legislature pass bills on the final day of a regular legislative session?". And each year, we research the question yet again to make sure we are providing the correct answer.
Minnesota's Constitution, Article 4, Section 21 states in part, "No bill shall be passed by either house upon the day prescribed for adjournment." When that section of the constitution was written, the constitution also established that the Minnesota Legislature would meet in regular session in odd-numbered years. With a single-year session, the "day prescribed for adjournment" was apparent.
Things changed in 1972 when Minnesota voters approved a proposed constitutional amendment to establish flexible, biennial sessions. (Minnesota House Public Information Services published an informative article in 1991 about the history of flexible sessions in Minnesota.) With the inaugural biennial legislative session in 1973/1974, for the first time in state history there was a "final" day in the first year and a "final" day in the second year. Were both days considered the "day prescribed for adjournment" per the state constitution? Or was the final day of the second year the official adjournment day? The question was answered by the Minnesota Supreme Court in its 1974 decision, State v. Hoppe: "... May 21, 1973 was not the day of final adjournment ... but was merely a temporary interim adjournment during the unitary biennial legislative session".
One final note. Since the advent of flexible sessions, the Legislature has met in regular session in each year of the biennium. But Article 4 Section 12 of the state's constitution does not mandate yearly sessions. It's possible that some future legislature will meet only one time during a biennium and that there will once again be a single, final "day prescribed for adjournment".
By Carol Blackburn
Minnesota has, at length, been permitted to take her place in the Union “upon equal footing with other states”. Congress, by a solemn act of legislation, approved by the President, has recognized her as a sovereign and independent member of the Confederacy—free, henceforth, from the trammels of Territorial vassalage, and bound by no allegiance to any earthly power outside her own limits, except to the Federal Union, to the extent prescribed by the Constitution of the United States. --Honorable H.H. Sibley, Governor of the State of Minnesota. Message to a joint convention of the Legislature, June 3, 1858.
So began Gov. Henry Sibley’s address to the legislature and the people of Minnesota following Minnesota’s admittance as the 32nd state of the Union on May 11, 1858. While a day of celebration, the governor used the occasion to express sentiments of frustration with the actions of the U.S. Congress regarding Minnesota’s statehood application:
But, while it is a subject of congratulation that Minnesota is now a State in the Union, she has just ground of complaint that her admission has been so long delayed. … For this state of things Congress is responsible. Having followed the course pointed out to us with scrupulous exactness, we had organized our State Government … and we presented ourselves to the National Legislature with full confidence that the pledges made us would be faithfully redeemed. How was our application received? Our Senators and Representatives were repulsed--our expostulations were unheeded—and the humiliating spectacle has been presented to the world… simply because it subserved the purposes of Congressional politicians to allow her to remain suspended, for an indefinite period, like the fabled coffin of the false prophet, between the heavens and the earth.
Whew! It’s good to be reminded that statehood didn’t just happen. It was the culmination of years of hopes, dreams, hard work, anger, frustration, and persistence. Today, May 11, 2017, we celebrate that historical event—and the unbroken bond that links today’s Minnesotans and today’s state government with those first citizens of Minnesota as they celebrated statehood on that Spring day in 1858.