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.
The Minnesota Legislature has passed a presidential preference primary law three times; all were repealed. Four presidential preference primaries have been held.
1913 - Governor Eberhart promoted the presidential primary in his inaugural speech in 1913, and the Legislature passed a law that year, Chapter 449.
1916 - The primary was held on March 14 (election results). Winners: Democrat, Woodrow Wilson; Prohibition, William Sulzer; Republican, Albert B. Cummins
Two days before the election, the Duluth News Tribune wrote about the upcoming contest, including "The crazy quilt presidential primary has befuddled everybody from the rummy to the justices of the Supreme Court."
In 1947, former Morning Star Tribune reporter Charles Cheney recalled the primary in The Story of Minnesota Politics: Highlights of Half a Century of Political Reporting. "Minnesota tried the presidential primary once, in 1916, and that was enough. It was a lot of grief and expense.... The 1917 Legislature repealed the presidential primary freak, and few tears were shed."
1917 - The law was repealed, Chapter 133.
1949 - A presidential primary was established by Chapter 433, approved April 14.
1952 - The primary was held on March 18 (election results). Winners: DFL, Hubert Humphrey; Republican, Harold Stassen
G. Theodore Mitau wrote about the primary in his 1970 version of the textbook Politics in Minnesota. "Stassen had led in the Minnesota Republican presidential primary, and most of the state's convention delegates were officially pledged to him. But a write-in campaign for Dwight D. Eisenhower, launched just a few days before the state primary, had resulted in what came to be called the "Minnesota miracle." With almost none of the advance publicity Stassen had enjoyed, and without the approval of the national Eisenhower organization, the campaign was phenomenally successful; 108,692 voters took the trouble to write in Eisenhower's name on the ballot, while Stassen, whose name was printed thereon, received only 20,000 more votes, 129,076."
1956 - The primary was held on March 20 (election results). Winners: Democrat, Estes Kefauver; Republican, Dwight Eisenhower
Minnesota Politics and Government, a 1999 textbook by Daniel Elazar, Virgina Gray and Wyman Spano, explained: "In the 1956 presidential primary the leaders of the DFL tried to deliver the state for Adlai Stevenson by virtually dictating to the rank-and-file DFLers that they vote for him in the name of party unity. The spontaneous reaction of the voters was to give Estes Kefauver the victory, a message pointed toward Hubert Humphrey." See also: "Primary History '56 free-for-all contest had it all," by Jim Parsons, Star Tribune, Jan. 19, 1992.
Entire chapters were devoted to this primary race in Coya Come Home: A Congresswoman's Journey by Gretchen Urnes Beito (Los Angeles: Pomegranate Press, 1990) and Hubert Humphrey: A Biography by Carl Solberg (St. Paul: Borealis Books, 2003).
1959 - The presidential primary law was repealed, Chapter 67.
Iric Nathanson wrote about the 1952 and 1956 primaries in a 2008 MinnPost article, "Political mischief: Minnesota's 1950s experiment with presidential primaries." About the repeal, he wrote, "The mainly Republican conservatives controlled the state Senate, and they moved first to vote repeal with only minimal debate. But repeal was more controversial in the House, where the liberal caucus, composed of DFLers, was in control. There, a repeal vote was delayed when primary supporters, many of whom had backed Kefauver in 1956, pushed unsuccessful to conduct one more direct primary in 1960 before scuttling the 1949 law entirely. But now DFL leaders were concerned that a 1960 primary, which permitted cross-over voting, could embarrass Hubert Humphrey and his bid for the 1960 presidential nomination."
1989 - A presidential primary bill, authored by Sen. Ron Dicklich, passed the Senate 48-16, and then the House 117-10, Chapter 291.
1990 - Changes were made to the law. The date was pushed back from the last week in February to April 7, and voters were required to declare themselves for a particular party in order to get a ballot. Chapter 603. (Background: "Minnesota primary law aims at increasing clout," by Gerald Kopplin, Hibbing Tribune, May 9, 1990)
1991-1992 - The House and Senate voted to repeal the presidential primary, but Governor Arne Carlson vetoed the bill. His veto message described his support for a presidential primary. The Senate voted to override the veto, 56-9, but the House failed to override the veto, 77-49. Veto page information. The primary remained in place. (Background: "The $4 million beauty contest: Primaries and caucuses 1992: Power to the people, sort of," Roger Swardson, City Pages, February 26, 1992.
1992 - The primary was held on April 7, 1992. Winners: DFL, Bill Clinton; IR, George H. W. Bush. (election results) (Background: "Primal yawn: Nation, and most state voters, ignored controversial primary," by Dane Smith, Star Tribune, April 9, 1992.
1995 - The presidential primary was put on hold until after 1999. (Background: "Hopes dashed for presidential primary, election overhaul," Jack B. Coffman, Pioneer Press, May 19, 1995)
1999 - The presidential primary law was repealed. Chapter 250, Article 1, Section 115.
Dr. Eric Ostermeier wrote an informative article in his Smart Politics blog recently, "A Brief history of presidential primaries."
The Library has additional sources of information on the four Minnesota presidential primaries, including many news clippings on the 1992 primary and discussion of the issue during that decade.
Former state legislator, Minnesota House Speaker, and U. S. Congressman Martin Olav Sabo died yesterday. Library staff remember Sabo as a user of the Legislative Reference Library through the years.
But in particular, we remember him fondly for a visit to the Library when he and former Representative Tom Berg came bearing wonderful pastries! They had collaborated with several former legislators and staff to write the book, Minnesota's Miracle: Learning From the Government That Worked, by Tom Berg. Shortly after the publication of the book, they brought pastries to thank Library staff for help with all of the research. We were pleased to be given credit in the book – and honored to receive a visit from the two of them!
Governor Mark Dayton's State of the State address is scheduled to be given at the University of Minnesota's McNamara Alumni Center on March 9, 2016. State of the State addresses are generally held in the Minnesota State Capitol, but that seemed an unlikely location this year given that most of the capitol building is closed for restoration.
It won't be the first time a governor has delivered a State of the State address away from the Capitol. It's been held elsewhere eight other times--twice in Bloomington, twice in Rochester, once in St. Cloud, Hutchinson, and Winona, and once at the Governor's Residence. All other State of the State addresses appear to have been held at the State Capitol.
The Minnesota Constitution requires the Governor to address the Legislature each session, but as far as we can verify, Governor LeVander's 1969 message to the legislature was the first to be titled "State of the State." The Library has collected most gubernatorial addresses since statehood: Gubernatorial Addresses to the Minnesota Legislature "State of the State" and Inaugural Addresses, 1857-present.
On July 13, 2015, Representative Phyllis Kahn and Representative Lyndon Carlson will surpass former Representative Willard Munger's record of 15,532 days as the longest serving House members in state history. Both legislators began serving in the Minnesota House on January 2, 1973.
Three Minnesota legislators served even longer with a combination of House and Senate service. Rep. Kahn and Rep. Carlson may surpass those records should they continue to serve into 2017.
Rep. Kahn and Rep. Senfronia Thompson of Texas are tied for the second-longest serving female state legislators in the nation, according to Katie Fischer Ziegler, Program Manager of the Women's Legislative Network of NCSL. It'll be tough to beat the longest serving female legislator in the nation--Rep. Brynhild Haugland served for 52 years in the North Dakota House, from her election in 1938 until her retirement in 1990. And even tougher to beat the longest serving state legislator--Senator Fred Risser has served in the Wisconsin Legislature for 58 years.
Thanks to Tom Olmscheid for the use of his photograph of the two legislators taken during the 2015 legislative session.
Elizabeth Lincoln & Carol Blackburn
Another session has come to an end and library staff are busy updating our various statistical compilations about the Minnesota Legislature. It's always interesting to see how the current session compares to past sessions. One thing that stands out this year is the low number of bills that passed. The 2015 Minnesota Legislature passed 80 bills with only 77 of those being enacted. That is the lowest number of bills enacted during a regular session since Minnesota became a state. Compiled session statistics show that several territorial legislatures had fewer bills enacted, the lowest number being 23 during the 2nd Territorial Legislature in 1851.
The chart above illustrates the gradual decline in laws enacted since the Minnesota Legislature began meeting in flexible sessions in 1973. Interestingly, the highest number of enactments (1,159) occurred in 1969, shortly before the switch to flexible sessions. That is illustrated by another chart that also shows that the number of laws enacted has fluctuated over time.
The percentage of introduced bills that were enacted has also been in gradual decline since 1875. In 2015, only 1.67% of bills introduced were enacted--another record low.
The 2014 election is upon us and many remember interesting elections from previous years. The Legislative Reference Library has a few books that recount the stories.
Electing Jesse Ventura: A Third-Party Success Story. Jacob Lentz reports on the unexpected victory of third-party candidate Jesse Ventura over major-party candidates Norm Coleman and Skip Humphrey in the 1998 race for governor. (JK6193 1998)
Minnesota Standoff: The Politics of Deadlock. Rod Searle writes about the process that led to the compromise between the two parties and his selection as House Speaker after the 1978 election resulted in a 67-67 tie in the Minnesota House. (JK6171 .S43 1990)
Recount. Ronald F. Stinnett and Charles H. Backstrom tell the story of the 139-day recount that resulted from the 1962 gubernatorial election. Karl Rolvaag eventually took office in March of the following year with a 91 vote lead over incumbent Governor Elmer Andersen. (JK6152 1962 .S7)
There is No November. Dave Hoium and Leon Oistad recount first-hand the surprising turn of events when allegations against Republican-endorsed gubernatorial candidate Jon Grunseth forced him to quit nine days before election day in 1990. Arne Carlson, who lost the endorsement to Grunseth months earlier, took his place on the ballot and defeated incumbent Governor Rudy Perpich. (JK6195 .H65 1991)
This is Not Florida: How Al Franken Won the Minnesota Senate Recount. Jay Weiner tells the story of the recount that followed the 2008 election. Eventually Al Franken was sworn in as the junior Senator from Minnesota in July 2009 with a 312 vote lead over Norm Coleman. (JK1968 2008 .W45 2010)
No one has written a book about the turn of events surrounding the 2002 U.S. Senate election following Senator Paul Wellstone’s death on October 25, 2002. Walter Mondale’s autobiography, The Good Fight: A Life in Liberal Politics (E840.8.M66 A3 2010) has a section on it and the Library has compiled documents related to the election.
Contact a librarian at 651-296-8338, or firstname.lastname@example.org, to request these books.
Books & Reports
The Legislative Reference Library and the Office of the Secretary of State have just completed a major project digitizing 40,000 previously unavailable official state documents.
The Office of the Secretary of State, as the repository for many of the official records of the state of Minnesota, have kept the official documents from 1900 to 1990, and the index cards used to retrieve them, secure in cabinets and boxes. Now they are available to everyone online: Secretary of State Documents 1900-1990.
Among the interesting findings --
Other documents capture less momentous but important state events --
Access to this rich resource of official state information was funded through a grant from the Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund administered by the Minnesota Historical Society.
Everyone's been asking--does the Legislature ever adjourn early?
Since flexible sessions began in 1973, the Legislature has never adjourned early in the first half of the biennium. The Minnesota Constitution limits the length of a regular session in two ways—it requires that the Legislature adjourn by the first Monday after the third Saturday in May of any year and it limits the number of legislative days in a biennium to 120.
The second year of the biennium is another story—they have adjourned sine die before the constitutional adjournment date in all but two years since 1973. And those two years are subject to interpretation. On May 16, 2010, the Legislature adjourned a day before the deadline. But they adjourned with unfinished business and went into special session on May 17th. In 2002, the House adjourned two days before the required adjournment date of May 20th but the Senate didn’t adjourn until the deadline.
The Legislature has adjourned as early as March four times-- over fifty days before the May deadline.. The earliest March date was March 17th in 1986. Other March adjournments happened in 1974, 1978, and 1982. March 29, 1974 was notable because they had already used 116 of the allotted 120 legislative days.
The Legislative Reference Library has a detailed chart on the dates and number of legislative days for regular and special sessions. We compiled a spreadsheet showing details on adjournments too.
It remains to be seen when adjournment will occur this year!
Anyone who follows the actions of the Minnesota Legislature for a few years quickly discovers that some issues recycle through the legislature on a regular basis. One of those topics is… recycling - and specifically, “bottle bills”, or beverage container deposit-return legislation. Various forms of such legislation have been introduced in Minnesota back to at least 1969 when bills were introduced to prohibit sales of beverages in nonreturnable bottles.
Beverage container deposit programs require that a fee be added to the cost of each container; the fee is refunded when the container is returned for recycling. Oregon was the first state to pass such a law in 1971. Currently 10 states have these programs including neighboring Iowa.
Proponents say the programs increase recycling rates, decrease litter, save energy, and result in a net increase in jobs. Opponents cite the costs of establishing and operating such a program, loss of jobs in the existing recycling system, inconvenience to consumers, and financial impacts on retailers, especially near bordering states.
In 2013, the Minnesota Legislature requested that the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (PCA) examine and report on issues surrounding the development of such a program in Minnesota. That report, Recycling Refund System Cost Benefit Analysis, was released in January 2014. Another PCA publication, the annual “SCORE” report, provides information and data on Minnesota’s solid waste management system, including recycling.
It is likely that bottle bills will make a return appearance during the 2014 legislative session. The Legislative Library has a variety of materials documenting past efforts to pass such a law including reports and news clippings. Contact the library to learn about these materials or to find information on how these laws have worked in other states.