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Library News - Legislators

Magnolias blooming on the Capitol groundsPeople often ask the library about salaries of Minnesota legislators. Currently, legislator salaries are set at $48,250, but that will soon change. The latest issue of the Report of the Legislative Salary Council, new this month in the Library, sets legislators’ salaries at $52,750 beginning July 1, 2023. 

Prior to 2016, the Minnesota Constitution provided that legislators’ compensation was prescribed by law. A constitutional amendment regarding how legislators’ salaries are set was adopted by the voters in the 2016 election, which also happens to be our most recent constitutional amendment. The Legislative Salary Council’s first prescribed salary for legislators went into effect July 1, 2017. More details about legislator compensation are noted in the FAQ and our chart of Compensation of Minnesota Legislators, 1858 - present

Another new report this month is the Recommendations of the Minnesota State Compensation Council. This report, as indicated by the title, is not prescriptive but instead contains recommendations for compensation levels for the governor, other constitutional officers, judges, and several other officials. The Legislature can establish a new salary for the governor through an appropriation, or by passing a law that provides for a specific salary, or by providing for a percentage change in the salary. Under current law, if the Legislature does nothing, the salary does not change.

To see a chart of how these recommendations have related to the governor’s salary over time, see the library’s new Minnesota Governor’s Salary, 1983-Present page. Since their beginning in 1983, the Compensation Council has made recommendations nearly every odd-numbered year, but they did not meet in 2003, 2011, or in 2015. 

Contact us with questions, for research assistance, or to borrow these books and reports or any of the materials on this month's list: or 651-296-8338.


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?

Image of a legislator and a list of names to select from for the Legislator Quiz.


A photo grid showing pictures of four Minnesota legislators from the pastOur Legislators Past & Present database is a rich source of biographical information and includes all 5,353 individuals who have served in the Minnesota Legislature -- a number that will soon grow as we look ahead to the start of the 93rd Legislature.

In addition to biographical details and specifics about a member’s legislative service, the database includes photographs of members when available. Many of the photographs in our database were originally printed in the Minnesota Legislative Manuals. While all Minnesota Legislative Manuals are available digitally, the scan resolution was not high enough for us to include additional images from those publications in our database without some extra work. We've partnered with the Minnesota Digital Library in recent years to include more than 3,000 photographs scanned from those publications specifically for inclusion in our database.

Until recently, many legislators were still not pictured in our database. This summer and fall, Library staff worked on filling some of those gaps and have now incorporated more than 2,500 photographs from 13 additional Legislative Manuals. 

Among those newly pictured are Sen. Laura Naplin (1927-1934), the first woman to serve in the Senate; Rep. Rosanna Payne (1927-1932), Rep. Harriet Weeks (1929-1932), and Rep. Bertha Hansen (1939-1940), some of the earliest women to serve in the House; Rep. Coya Knutson (1951-1954), who, after serving in the House, went on to be the first woman to represent Minnesota in Congress; and Rep. Charles Munn (1927-1934), who served one term as House Speaker and was the only speaker since 1905 not pictured in our database.

In addition to Rep. Coya Knutson, we've now added photographs of several other state legislators who also served in Congress: Rep. Victor Christgau (1927-1928), Rep. Dewey Johnson (1929-1934), Rep. James Bede (1931-1932), Sen. Henry Teigan (1933-1934), Rep. Richard Gale (1939-1940), Rep. Rick Nolan (1969-1972), and Rep. Betty McCollum (1993-2000).

The Library plays a vital role in preserving the history of the Minnesota Legislature as an institution. Legislators Past & Present is one of our richest and most unique resources, and expanding the photographs in this database -- which now total more than 8,500 -- enables researchers to better visualize Minnesota’s past.

Photo by House Public Information Services

Redistricting always brings a slew of legislative retirements -- district boundaries may shift dramatically, incumbents may be paired with a colleague in the same district and decide not to run, or legislators see an opportunity to run for a different office. And some legislators, as with any election cycle, simply decide to leave elected office. This redistricting cycle is no exception. There are 47 legislators -- many long-serving -- who will be leaving the Legislature this year. You may find it interesting to compare this year's retirement list with the list of retirements in 2012 -- the last time legislative districts were redrawn.

Some of those 47 individuals are pursuing other elected office, but most won't be on the ballot in November. In addition to these departures, 11 current House members are seeking election to the Minnesota Senate, and one current Senator is seeking election to the Minnesota House of Representatives. Although it is more common for House members to seek a seat in the Senate, many Senators served in the House after terms in the Senate. (Several news sources are reporting 59 members retiring which includes the 12 seeking a seat in the other body.)

The primary and general election outcomes will almost certainly mean that this list of departures will grow. Though election rates for incumbents seeking re-election are high, our turnover data show those rates, compiled since 1970, have never been 100%!

Those with keen eyes will spot some former legislators on the Secretary of State's candidate filings list. So it remains to be seen how many "true freshman" we'll see in January 2023, when the 93rd Legislature gavels in a new session.

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.

Representative Lyndon Carlson recently announced his intention to retire from the Legislature at the end of the 2019-2020 session. He became both the longest-serving legislator and the longest serving member of the Minnesota House of Representatives on January 3, 2017, and remains so today. His record will be hard to beat.

By the time he retires in January 2021, he will have served more than 17,500 days, nearly three years longer than the second longest-serving members. There's a three-way tie for second place among three former members: Reps. Carl Iverson, Phyllis Kahn, and Sen. Anton Rockne all served 16,072 days. 

Our service timeline is another way to look at terms of service for current members. This timeline helps visualize things like which members entered the legislature in the same year and which members have served in both chambers. 

Several other long-serving legislators have also announced their retirements, and we track these announcements on our legislative retirements page

READ Posters

By Elizabeth Lincoln

Senator Dahms is pictured in front of a backdrop of the Minnesota State Capitol while holding the book John Adams by author David McCullough.  The word READ is spelled out in all capital letters at the top of the image. David Bowie is featured in jeans and a high school letter jacket reading The Idiot by Dostoevsky in front of a white background. Large red letters at the top spell out READ. Representative Kristin Bahner is pictured in front of a backdrop of the Minnesota State Capitol while holding the electronic book Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen.  The word READ is spelled out in all capital letters at the top of the image. The American Library Association created their popular celebrity READ posters in 1985.  Bette Midler, Paul Newman, and Steve Martin were featured in some of the earliest posters, but you're most likely to remember the classic 1987 poster featuring David Bowie, which graced the walls of many public and high school libraries.

The Minnesota Library Association recently paid a visit to the State Capitol and photographed nineteen House and Senate members with favorite books for their own series of READ posters.  Around here, these might become the David Bowie posters of their time!

The legislators featured are Rep. Paul Anderson, Rep. Kristin Bahner, Rep. Jamie Becker-Finn, Rep. Robert Bierman, Sen. Karla Bigham, Rep. Greg Boe, Sen. Jim Carlson, Rep. Jack Considine, Sen. Gary Dahms, Sen. Scott Dibble, Rep. Rob Ecklund, Sen. Nick Frentz, Rep. Bud Nornes, Rep. Mary Kunesh-Podein, Rep. Fue Lee, Rep. John Petersburg, Rep. Dean Urdahl, Sen. Chuck Wiger, and Rep. Dan Wolgamott.  Come see which books they chose as their favorites--and which legislator is featured with his own published work of fiction.

The READ posters will be on display in the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library (State Office Building location) until summer. 


It's back by popular demand!  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?


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.