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Staff working in House television production roomOver the past year, as legislative operations have shifted and evolved in light of the pandemic, House Public Information Services and Senate Media Services have worked diligently to continue providing the public access to legislative proceedings, and to expand and enhance online content. Both offices increased live stream capacity dramatically to address the realities of remote committee hearings. The House now offers five live streaming channels, up from two in previous sessions, and on any given busy session day broadcasts up to 18 hearings. The Senate provides four live streaming channels, also an increase from previous sessions. And both offices have made video captioning accuracy a priority.

In light not only of this recent work, but also the many years' work before the pandemic, Library staff nominated Barry LaGrave, House Public Information Services Director, and Steve Senyk, Senate Media Services Director, for the Minnesota Coalition on Government Information's John R. Finnegan Freedom of Information Award, and they and their offices are one of this year's recipients! This award is given to those "whose work in defense of the public's right to know has made a difference in Minnesota." Staff working in Senate television production room

These two offices, under Barry and Steve's leadership, have made robust contributions to providing access to legislative information in Minnesota for many years, but their recent work has been especially remarkable. The past year has required quick thinking, sudden adaptations, creativity, attention to detail, teamwork, and expanded infrastructure, all of which these two offices brought to bear in their work.

Join us in congratulating House Public Information Services and Senate Media Services on this award! An online awards ceremony will be held on Monday, March 15, 2021. The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required.

Photo credits: House Public Information Services and Senate Media Services.

Minnesota State Capitol, February 2021

The Legislature has a new system to track issues regarding digital accessibility on the Legislature's website. The Minnesota Legislature Accessibility & Usability Comment Form allows users to submit information about digital accessibility issues they've encountered. The consolidation of digital accessibility comments allowed by this form will assist legislative staff in responding to major issues encountered across the many offices of the Legislature on a case-by-cases basis. Although legislative staff will not directly respond to each and every comment individually, the form will allow staff to gather a sense of patterns of issues and staff will use the comments to prioritize digital accessibility improvements. 

Additionally, the input will assist the not-yet-formed Legislative Employee Working Group on the Legislature's Accessibility Measures as required by 2019 Laws of Minnesota 1st Special Session chapter 10, article 5, section 5. The Working Group will convene in 2021 to help move the Legislature toward its 2024 goal of compliance with digital accessibility standards.

Of course, this comment form is not a replacement for an accommodations request. Those who need accommodations, such as American Sign Language interpretive services, in order to participate in legislative proceedings should continue to follow the accommodation request instructions as detailed in the Legislature's FAQs for Disability Access or contact the LCC.

Photo credit: Senate Media Services

Learn the names of the brand new legislators and refresh your memory on the returning members by taking the Minnesota Legislator Quiz! Can you get a perfect score?

Screenshot of Minnesota Legislator quiz showing Rep. Igo and 6 choices to match image with name.

Rep. Mary Murphy in 1981January 5, 2021, the first day of the 2021-2022 biennium, marks Representative Mary Murphy's 16,073rd day in office, making her the second longest serving legislator in Minnesota history. Rep. Murphy's time in office now exceeds that of Phyllis Kahn, Carl Iverson, and Anton Rockne, each of whom served 16,072 days. Rep. Lyndon Carlson, who announced his retirement last year, remains the longest serving legislator. 

This milestone also makes Rep. Murphy the longest serving female legislator in state history.  When she took the oath of office in 1977, she was one of 13 women in the Legislature, which was a record at that time.

This year we mark more milestones: a record 72 women will serve in the Minnesota Legislature in the 2021-2022 biennium, and Senator Julia Coleman will be the youngest woman to ever serve in the Minnesota Senate.

Award logoThe Minnesota Legislature's website is a shared work of the House, Senate, and joint offices, including the Library. And we're honored to be recognized by the National Conference of State Legislatures with this year's Online Democracy Award!

The press release reads, 'The Minnesota legislature's website was recognized for its "humongous' amount of content, which is organized and structured in a very user-friendly manner, according to the selection committee. The site designers did a great job focusing on members, bill search and statutes. 'Considering how much information is on it, the website is almost deceptively simple while still being polished—but not overly fancy for fancy’s sake,' the committee said. 'It’s really commendable.'"

Staff from many legislative offices share in the work of maintaining the Legislature's web content. These staff collaborate, contribute content, and regularly consult one another on best practices to make the web experience for legislators, legislative staff, and members of the public as accessible and usable as possible.