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Library News - State Government

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.

It isn’t new for party endorsing conventions to be full of twists and turns. They’re as interesting today as they were fifty years ago, and we were reminded of this last week when we received a donated copy of a book we’ve long had in our collection: The 21st Ballot: A Political Party Struggle in Minnesota. The book, written by David Lebedoff and published in 1969, chronicles a turbulent time within the Democratic-Farmer-Labor party starting in late 1965 and running through the election in 1966. That year, Governor Karl Rolvaag lost to a relatively unknown Republican Party activist named Harold LeVander.

The copy we received contained an inscription from former Governor Rolvaag with an interesting note: “… some day I must write to correct some substantial errors." James Pederson, reviewing the book later that year, wrote: "These flaws, while serious, do not discredit The 21st Ballot as a well-written work ...[capturing] the emotion, excitement, and drama that the political events of 1966 held for most Minnesotans."

Proving that both parties have their struggles, There is No November details Jon Grunseth's candidacy for the office of Governor of Minnesota in 1990. The political intrigue included a tough Republican primary battle between Grunseth and State Auditor Arne Carlson, and two post-primary allegations of improper conduct against Grunseth. They were facing incumbent Governor Rudy Perpich. If you don't know how it turned out, check our Minnesota Governors historical table.

Representative Paul Thissen was appointed by Governor Mark Dayton to the Minnesota Supreme Court on April 17, 2018, replacing Justice David Stras. Sixteen other Minnesota legislators have served on the Minnesota Supreme Court:

Name Minnesota Legislative Service Minnesota Supreme Court Service Notes
John Berry

Territorial House 1857;

Senate 1863-1864

Associate Justice 1865-1887  
Kathleen Blatz House 1979-1994

Associate Justice 1996-1998;

Chief Justice 1998-2006

Daniel Buck

House 1866;

Senate 1879-1882

Associate Justice 1893 -1899

He was elected to the Supreme Court in 1892 for a term that started in January 1894, but another judge resigned and he was appointed to take his place before his elected term started.

Loren Collins

House 1881-1884

Associate Justice 1887-1904  
Francis "F.R.E." Cornell House 1861-1862; 1865 Associate Justice 1875-1881  
Wallace Douglas House 1895-1898 Associate Justice 1904-1905  
Charles Flandrau Territorial Council 1856

Minnesota Territorial Supreme Court Associate Justice  1857-1858; 

Minnesota Supreme Court Associate Justice 1858-1864

He was also a member of the Territorial Democratic Constitutional Convention in 1857.

Alexander "Sandy" Keith Senate 1959-1962

Associate Justice 1989-1990;

Chief Justice 1990-1998

He also served as Lieutenant Governor from 1963 to 1967. He is believed to be the first person to serve in all three branches of Minnesota state government (Star Tribune 7/7/1990).

William Mitchell House 1859-1860 Associate Justice 1881-1900  
C. Donald Peterson House 1959-1962 Associate Justice 1967-1986  
Peter Popovich House 1953-1962

Associate Justice 1987-1989;

Chief Justice 1989-1990

Walter Rogosheske House 1943-1948 Associate Justice 1962-1980  
Albert Schaller Senate 1895-1914 Associate Justice 1915-1917  
Robert Sheran House 1947-1950

Associate Justice 1963-1970;

Chief Justice 1973-1981


Thomas Wilson

House 1881-1882;

Senate 1883-1886

Associate Justice 1864-1865;

Chief Justice 1865-1869

He was a member of the Territorial Republican Constitutional Convention in 1857. He is unique for having served as a legislator after his time on the Minnesota Supreme Court, rather than before.

Lawrence Yetka House 1951-1960 Associate Justice 1973-1993  


Three Minnesota legislators served on other states' territorial supreme courts: 

  • Warren Bristol (Minnesota House 1866; Minnesota Senate 1867-1869) served on the New Mexico Territorial Supreme Court from 1872-1885. Notably, he presided over the New Mexico trial of "Billy the Kid." 
  • Alonzo Edgerton (Minnesota Senate 1859-1860; 1877-1878) served on the Territorial Supreme Court of Dakota, was a U.S. Senator for Minnesota, and was a member of the South Dakota Constitutional Convention.
  • John North (Minnesota Territorial House 1851; Minnesota Republican Constitutional Convention 1857) served on the Nevada Territory Supreme Court. He also served on the Nevada Territory State Constitutional Convention.

In early Minnesota history, there were other leaders who served both as part of the constitutional convention and as justices on the supreme court: 

  • Bradley Meeker was not a Minnesota legislator but was a member of the Territorial Democratic Constitutional Convention in 1857. He served on the Minnesota Territorial Supreme Court as an Associate Justice from 1849-1853.
  • LaFayette Emmett was a member of the Territorial Democratic Constitutional Convention in 1857 and served on the Minnesota Supreme Court as Chief Justice from 1858-1865.

Three Minnesota Supreme Court justices, Aaron Goodrich, Andrew Chatfield, and Moses Sherburne served in other state legislatures, Tennessee, Wisconsin, and Maine respectively. Moses Sherburne was also a member of the Minnesota Territorial Democratic Constitutional Convention in 1857.


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.)

Fellow citizens,

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.

2016 update - Minnesota will move from a presidential caucus to a presidential primary for the 2020 election, Chapter 162.

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!

Minnesota State of the State locations

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.

The Minnesota deer hunting season is just around the corner. During the 2015 legislative session, informational hearings were held to discuss the concerns of hunters regarding the declining deer herd in Minnesota. On April 17, 2015, the Legislative Audit Commission voted to direct the Legislative Auditor to evaluate the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' (DNR) deer management process. The Legislative Auditor's report is scheduled to be released in early 2016.

The DNR completed new deer population goals for 40 of the 128 deer permit areas in the state but is postponing the remaining goal setting until the completion of the legislative audit. The completed Deer Population Goals were done in five blocks:

Superior Uplands Arrowhead: Minnesota Deer Population Goals

North Central Plains - Moraines: Minnesota Deer Population Goals

Pine Moraines: Minnesota Deer Population Goals

East Central Uplands: Minnesota Deer Population Goals

Sand Plain – Big Woods: Minnesota Deer Population Goals

According to the DNR, "As a result of this process, 85 percent of the 40 areas will be managed for populations higher than those experienced in 2014; the remaining will see no change." Additional deer population goal setting resources including Hunter and Landowner Survey Results and Deer Advisory Team Recommendations are available in the "2015 goal setting" section of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resource's Deer Management website.

With the Minnesota State Capitol closed for renovation, the Minnesota Legislature is scheduled to meet in special session in the next week or two in modest, temporary chambers in two State Office Building hearing rooms.  Territorial legislatures met in a variety of locations but the Minnesota House and Senate have met in one of the three Minnesota capitols since the first one was built in 1853.

We were able to find one notable exception!  On March 1, 1881, the first State Capitol caught fire during an evening session in one of the final days of the 1881 legislative session.  The House and Senate quickly adjourned when the fire was discovered.  The Capitol was "totally destroyed" according to a story in the Minneapolis Tribune the next morning.  The Tribune states that "steps were taken promptly during the evening by the mayor and lieutenant-governor and speaker for the legislature to resume its session this morning in the new market building."  By 11 am the next morning, the Legislature was meeting in Market House a few blocks away at 7th and Wabasha.  The 1881 Legislature also met at Market House later that year for a special session. 

Although the hearing rooms in the State Office Building will be modest compared to the elegant House and Senate chambers in the beautiful 1905 Capitol, current legislators will not need to "take measures for the proper covering of the floor of the Hall with some thing other than saw dust" as they did during the 1881 special session at Market House!

Capitol renovation has booted the House out of its chamber during a previous special session.  The House met in the Senate chamber during the 1989 special session.