The Library's legislator quiz--developed last year for new Library staff--proved to be very popular with staff, lobbyists, and legislators! The quiz has been updated and improved for the new session - you can now select all current legislators or focus on either the House or the Senate.
Play the quiz!
Representative Lyndon Carlson surpassed a number of records today! He is now the longest serving House member - ever. He is also the longest serving member in the history of the Minnesota Legislature.
Three former legislators are tied for second-longest-serving legislator. Phyllis Kahn is the second longest serving member of the Minnesota House of Representatives and is tied in length of service with two legislators who served in both bodies--Anton J. Rockne and Carl Iverson. (Anton J. Rockne has the longest Senate tenure.) Check out the length of service for all legislators including those who have served just one day!
Every four years, students in a graphic design course at the University of Minnesota create Get Out the Vote posters. The posters are displayed at two University libraries--Wilson Library on the Minneapolis West Bank campus and McGrath Library on the St. Paul campus--but this year they are also on display at the Legislative Reference Library.
Professor James Boyd Brent described the project, "They were asked to direct their posters towards an undergraduate student audience and were also asked to emphasize the importance of voting, rather than trying to encourage people to vote one way or the other. I did feel that there was some leeway, though, for students to subtly cite or refer to a pressing social justice issue."
Each poster is a three-layered handmade screen print. Professor Brent says, "the screen printing process enables a vivid handmade look to be part of the aesthetic appeal of the posters. " The poster to the left was designed by University student Jade Mulcahy.
The posters will be on display through November 10th. Please stop in to see them!
Minnesota is usually well represented in the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) Notable Document Awards each year; this year is no exception with four award winners from Minnesota.
The awards are sponsored by NCSL's Legislative Research Librarians staff section. "The award recognizes excellence in documents that explore topics of interest to legislators and staff, and present substantive material in an outstanding format." The Minnesota award winners are:
Flame Retardants and Firefighter Exposure and Health. Minnesota Department of Health Environmental Surveillance and Assessment Section, 2016.
A 2015 Minnesota law required the Minnesota Department of Health, in consultation with the State Fire Marshall, to prepare a report about flame-retardant chemicals and the health and safety effects of exposures, particularly in firefighting settings. With a review of state, federal, and international regulations, a summary of exposure and health findings, and a comprehensive literature review, this document presents a wealth of information on this issue, an issue that has not been studied elsewhere.
Minnesota State Capitol: Overview of the Fine Art. Minnesota Historical Society, 2015.
Each piece of artwork featured in this guide is accompanied by a color photograph, a note about its location in the Capitol, the date installed, a brief description of the piece, and a biographical note on the author.
United States Constitutional Amendment Process: Legal Principles for State Legislatures. (By Matt Gehring) Minnesota House Research Department, 2016.
This report serves as a "reference guide for finding and understanding applicable law related to amending the U.S. Constitution."
United States Constitutional Amendments: Minnesota's Legislative History. (By Matt Gehring) Minnesota House Research Department, 2016.
Of the 33 proposed amendments to the U.S. Constitution submitted to the states by Congress, 27 have been ratified by three-fourths of the states; Minnesota has ratified 18. This report outlines the amendment process, the procedural issues, and Minnesota's amendment ratification history.
It’s easy to create a list of bills by author in the Legislature’s bill tracking system. How many of them became law? The bills that became law include a number in the “Law” column, indicating that they passed and received a chapter number in the annual Session Laws.
But the list of ‘laws passed’ is not complete – not because the system doesn’t work correctly, but because it is difficult to account for all the ways that language from a legislator might become law.
Some of the bills could have been incorporated into larger bills, such as an omnibus bill. For example, Rep. Kim Norton was the author of HF512 in 2015, establishing a child support work group. That bill did not pass, but the language was incorporated into SF1458, and passed into law, Chapter 71 of 2015.
Many times, when a separate bill is wrapped into a larger bill, a see reference will be listed on the status screen – but that doesn’t always work.
In 2015, Rep. Norton introduced HF39, designating Highway 14 as the Black and Yellow Trail. If you check the bill status system, it appears to be introduced, referred to committee, going no further. But it passed! (See article 3 of Chapter 287, and a photo of a sign on the completed trail.) It received a hearing and was included in the Omnibus transportation bill that year, even though there was no “see” reference in the bill tracking system.
As a legislator, what if you introduce a bill that is never heard in committee, yet it passes in the other body and is incorporated into an omnibus bill during conference committee? Is that your bill that passed?
Sometimes a legislator introduces a bill identical to one or many other bills - clone bills. If your bill is not the one that passes, is it legitimate to still consider the bill as one you have passed? Scott Magnuson, long-time Senate employee and legislation-watcher, has an opinion. He says no. The chief author of the bill that passes is the one who has done the hard part of taking it through all the committees. "If you are the chief author, you have to be passionate," Scott said.
Rep. Norton agrees with Scott that clones or bills that are filed as a courtesy and were never heard should not be claimed as passing a bill. On the other hand, she noted, “Sometimes an author researches an issue, files a bill, and gets a Senate author--but because of committee budgets or partisan politics, it may not be heard. If heard, it may not be included in the House Omnibus bill...BUT your Senate author may have better luck getting it included on the Senate side and it eventually passes. I believe that House author can/should take credit for that bill.”
A list of laws each member passed also doesn’t account for the work of legislators in committees and in floor session, where they track other members’ bills for language that may harm their districts, or craft amendments that help their districts.
While talking about the difficulty of definitive tracking, Scott Magnuson had a recommendation for every legislator who wants to carefully account for their work each session. Get a really good staff person who will track it for you, year by year.