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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.

The Chandelier is lit in the dome of the State Capitol dome.

One recent article, and one that’s often requested from the Library, was written by former Assistant Revisor of Statutes Anne Sexton. In “A Lawyer's Guide to the Minnesota Legislative Process” from Bench & Bar of Minnesota, she provides a “roadmap for bills,” tips about statutory notes, headnotes, tracking session law changes, how to use Minnesota Statutes chapter 645, and more. She also includes a few paragraphs about the usefulness of the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library’s Mandated Reports Database for “understanding future policy dynamics or quickly gathering information on a topic without going through a government data request.” In addition, she explains that the legislative process is complex and even the most seasoned legislative staff person or legislator can have questions about the process. 

We use several sources when answering questions involving the complexities of the legislative process. Many questions can be answered by consulting the Legislature's Frequently Asked Questions About the Minnesota Legislature. For example, do you need to be reminded of the definition of a legislative day or a pocket veto? Or is a bill dead if it fails on final passage? Hint: Not necessarily

Sometimes the questions are more intricate. Senate Counsel, Research, and Fiscal Analysis' Legislative Process In Minnesota provides a solid overview. We also look to House Research's Making Laws for insider-baseball-level questions. We won’t name any names, but one long-time lobbyist carries a copy with her at all times!  

LCC-GIS logoThe first Legislative redistricting plan was released today by the chair of the House Redistricting Committee, which marks a milestone in the redistricting processes. Over the course of the redistricting process, several plans will be released and considered. Each plan will be posted to the Legislative Coordinating Commission's Geographic Information Services (LCC-GIS) site: 2021 Redistricting Plans

The Library's redistricting guides can help you get up to speed on the process and highlight how these maps have been drawn in recent decades. The Redistricting 2020 guide is being regularly updated as the process unfolds in the coming months. A parallel resource to keep an eye on is the Redistricting 2020 page from the LCC-GIS office. 

As legislative aficionados know, the House Redistricting Committee and the Senate Redistricting Committee have been meeting this year and have more plans to meet in the coming months. Tune in to committee hearings in the House and Senate to stay current with this year's process. View recordings from past 2021 meetings of these committees, for any that you've missed. 

Both Minnesota legislative staff and Minnesota documents received recognition from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) this year. 

Betsy HaugenThe Library's own Betsy Haugen earned the 2021 NCSL Legislative Research Librarians Staff Achievement Award! Betsy’s unwavering commitment to the Minnesota Legislature, the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library, NCSL, and the Legislative Research Librarian Staff Association is widely known and recognized among her peers. She has spent nearly 20 years with the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library, where her strength as a leader and her commitment to a collegial atmosphere is evidenced in the growth of the staff she supervises and the cultivation of strong relationships with other legislative offices. 
 
Betsy's involvement with NCSL spans many years, including service on the Legislative Research Librarians Executive Committee from 2016 to 2019 and time on the NCSL Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee. Serving in these roles has allowed her to develop and participate in a number of staff annual Professional Development Seminars and NCSL Legislative Summit meetings. She’s well-respected by those who participate in NCSL staff associations and known for her leadership and mentorship mindset. Her patience, warmth, energy, and leadership have touched many across the nation. 

The NCSL Legislative Research Librarian Staff Association also recognized two documents from Minnesota among this year's Notable Document Award winners. A report from the Minnesota Department of Human Services earned recognition: We Definitely Struggle... The Worry is Always There: Improving the Health of People Living in Deep Poverty. The report is the work of a two year collaboration between the department and other state agencies that concluded in the spring of 2020. The authors interviewed 30 Minnesotans living in poverty and include real-life examples throughout the report to bring across the different types of stress that living in poverty brings with it. They offer some specific ideas for improving the effectiveness of a few income support programs. 

The second Minnesota report recognized by NCSL this year was on a topic that has received growing attention in recent years: Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Task Force: A Report to the Minnesota Legislature. In 2019, the Minnesota Legislature created the task force to study the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women. The group found that while Indigenous people make up 1% of Minnesota's population, 9% of all murdered girls and women in Minnesota from 2010-2019 were Indigenous. The task force's final report is well-organized and well-researched, and identifies the root causes of these inequities and opportunities for public policy changes. Since the release of this report, the Legislature has created the Office of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives, "dedicated to preventing and ending the targeting of Indigenous women, children, and two-spirited people."

Join us in congratulating these Minnesota honorees!

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.

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