Minnesota State Senate
|Minnesota State Senate|
|2015 session start:||January 6, 2015|
|Website:||Official Senate Website|
|Senate President:||Sandra Pappas (DFL)|
|Majority Leader:||Thomas Bakk (DFL)|
|Minority leader:||David Hann (R)|
Democratic Party (39)
Republican Party (28)
|Length of term:||4 years|
|Authority:||Art IV, Minnesota Constitution|
|Salary:||$31,140.90 + per diem|
|Last Election:||November 6, 2012 (67 seats)|
|Next election:||November 8, 2016 (67 seats)|
|Redistricting:||Minnesota Legislature subcommittee has control|
- 1 Sessions
- 2 Ethics and transparency
- 3 Elections
- 4 Redistricting
- 5 Senators
- 6 Standing committees
- 7 History
- 8 External links
- 9 References
State senators are paid a salary of $31,140 per year. During the regular legislative session, legislators can be reimbursed up to $96 per day for travel and living expenses when away from home. Legislators can collect the "per diem" payments seven days a week during the legislative session, whether or not they are actually at the state house. The per diem payments are included toward the recipient's pension and can add more than forty percent to some members' income.
As of February 2015, Minnesota is one of 19 states that is under divided government and is therefore not one of the state government trifectas.
Article IV of the Minnesota Constitution establishes when the Minnesota State Legislature, of which the Senate is a part, is to be in session. Section 12 of Article IV states that the Legislature is not to meet in regular session for more than 120 legislative days in each two-year period between legislative elections. Section 12 also does not allow the Legislature to meet in regular session after the first Monday following the third Saturday in May of any year. Within these limits, Section 12 allows the Legislature to decide its meeting dates by law.
As such, MN Statute 3.011 establishes that on odd numbered years the legislature must convene on the first Monday in January, unless that lands on January 1, in which case the legislature must convene by the first Wednesday after the first Monday. The legislature is required to set its own date for even numbered years.
Section 12 of Article IV states that the Governor of Minnesota can call special sessions of the Legislature on extraordinary occasions.
- See also: Dates of 2015 state legislative sessions
In 2015, the Legislature is projected to be in session from January 6 through 18.
Major issues in the 2015 legislative session include how to manage a $1 billion surplus, a possible gasoline tax increase, road and bridge maintenance, education funding and the state health care exchange.
- See also: Dates of 2014 state legislative sessions
In 2014, the Legislature was in session from February 25 through May 19.
- See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions
In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 8 through May 20.
Major issues during the 2013 legislative session included a tax bill, establishing a health care exchange, same-sex marriage, education funding, gun control, and oil fracking.
A bill designed to generate $2.1 billion in new revenue passed the Senate 36-30 and the House 69-65 on May 20, 2013. Governor Mark Dayton signed the tax bill into law on May 23, 2013. This legislation sponsored by Senator Rod Skoe and Representative Ann Lenczewski increases cigarette taxes by $1.60 per pack and creates a higher income tax rate for upper-income earners. The bill creates a tax rate of 9.85 percent for individuals earning $150,000 per year and couples earning $250,000 per year. Increased revenue was used to fund an expansion of the Mayo Clinic, assist in building a new football stadium for the Minnesota Vikings and fill a $627 million budget deficit.
Critics in the Senate expressed concerns about the effects of tax increases on the state economy. "This tax bill will make us a high-tax island," argued Senator Julianne Ortman (R). Senator Sean Nienow (R} actively opposed tax increases, arguing that "Minnesotans deserve a budget that protects hardworking taxpayers, not abuses them."
- See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions
In 2012, the Senate was in session from January 24 to May 10.
In 2011, the Senate was in session from January 4 through May 23.
In 2010, the Senate was in session from February 4th to March 17th.
Role in state budget
- See also: Minnesota state budget and finances
- Budget instruction guidelines are sent to state agencies in May and June of the year preceding the start of the new biennium.
- State agencies submit their budget requests to the governor in October.
- Agency hearings are held from September through December.
- The governor submits his or her proposed budget to the state legislature on the fourth Tuesday in January (this deadline is extended to the third Tuesday in February for a newly elected governor).
- The legislature typically adopts a budget in May. A simple majority is required to pass a budget. The biennium begins on July 1 of odd-numbered years.
The governor is legally required to submit a balanced budget proposal. Likewise, the legislature is legally required to adopt a balanced budget.
The Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative released a report in July 2013 which indicated that cost-benefit analysis in policymaking led to more effective uses of public funds. Looking at data from 2008 through 2011, the study's authors found that some states were more likely to use cost-benefit analysis while others were facing challenges and lagging behind the rest of the nation. Among the challenges states faced were a lack of time, money and technical skills needed to conduct comprehensive cost-benefit analyses. Minnesota was one of the 10 states that used cost-benefit analysis more than the rest of the states with respect to determining return on investment regarding state programs. In addition, these states were more likely to use cost-benefit analysis with respect to large budget areas and when making policy decisions.
Ethics and transparency
Following the Money report
- See also: "Following the Money" report, 2014
The U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a consumer-focused nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., released its annual report on state transparency websites in April 2014. The report, entitled "Following the Money," measured how transparent and accountable state websites are with regard to state government spending. According to the report, Minnesota received a grade of D+ and a numerical score of 64, indicating that Minnesota was "lagging" in terms of transparency regarding state spending.
Open States Transparency
The Sunlight Foundation released an "Open Legislative Data Report Card" in March 2013. Minnesota was given a grade of C in the report. The report card evaluated how adequate, complete and accessible legislative data is to the general public. A total of 10 states received an A -- Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Kansas, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington.
- See also: Minnesota State Senate elections, 2012
Although Minnesota senators typically serve four-year terms, they are elected to a two-year term during the first election of the decade. This allows for legislative elections to fall shortly after redistricting is completed. Since Minnesota Senate terms are not staggered, all sitting members will be on the ballot in November.
The following table details the 10 districts with the smallest margin of victory in the November 6 general election.
|2012 Margin of Victory, Minnesota State Senate|
|District||Winner||Margin of Victory||Total Votes||Top Opponent|
|District 20||Kevin Dahle||0.2%||41,178||Mike Dudley|
|District 39||Karin Housley||1.4%||46,139||Julie Bunn|
|District 48||David Hann||2.8%||46,189||Laurie McKendry|
|District 53||Susan Kent||4.4%||43,638||Ted Lillie|
|District 4||Kent Eken||4.5%||37,965||Phil Hansen|
|District 5||Tom Saxhaug||4.8%||40,663||John Carlson|
|District 21||Kevin Dahle||5%||41,783||Mike Dudley|
|District 14||John Pederson||5.2%||36,785||Jerry McCarter|
|District 24||Vicki Jensen||5.4%||36,534||Vern Swedin|
|District 49||Melisa Franzen||5.6%||50,938||Keith Downey|
- See also: Minnesota State Senate elections, 2010
Elections for the office of Minnesota State Senate were held in Minnesota on November 2, 2010. The signature-filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in these elections was June 1, 2010 and the primary Election Day was on September 14, 2010.
In 2010, the candidates for state house raised a total of $5,109,415 in campaign contributions. The top 10 donors were:
|2010 Donors, Minnesota State Senate|
|6th Senate District Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party||$23,500|
|Nelson Carla Jean House District 30A Cmte||$14,014|
|Minnesota Telecom Alliance||$14,000|
|Faegre & Benson||$11,900|
|Minnesota Association of Realtors||$11,750|
|Minnesota Dental Association||$11,600|
During the 2008 election, in which no Senate contests were held, the total value of contributions to Senate incumbents was $1,064,513. The top 10 contributors were:
|2008 Donors, Minnesota State Senate|
|Lourey, Anthony L||$10,000|
|46th Senate District Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party||$2,000|
|53rd Senate District Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party||$2,000|
|45th Senate District Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party||$2,000|
|15th Senate District Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party||$2,000|
|5th Senate District Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party||$2,000|
|41st Senate District Republican Party||$2,000|
|7th Senate District Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party||$1,900|
|39th Senate District Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party||$1,625|
- See also: Minnesota State Senate elections, 2006
Elections for the office of Minnesota State Senate consisted of a primary election on September 12, 2006, and a general election on November 7, 2006.
During the 2006 election, the total of contributions to Senate candidates was $5,999,082. The top 10 contributors were:
|2006 Donors, Minnesota State Senate|
|Senate Republican Victory Fund||$20,349|
|Wright, Scott R||$13,616|
|Small Independent Telephone Companies||$13,550|
|Mah Mah Wi No Min||$13,216|
|Minnesota Police & Peace Officers Association||$12,750|
|St Paul Teachers Retirement Fund Association||$12,100|
|Minnesota Dental Association||$11,400|
During the 2004 election, in which no Senate contests were held, the total value of contributions to Senate incumbents was $1,227,116. The top 10 contributors were:
|2004 Donors, Minnesota State Senate|
|Michael Paymar House District 64B Cmte||$3,853|
|Matthew Entenza House District 64A Cmte||$3,486|
|Hottinger, John C||$3,000|
|Howard Juni Senate District 53 Cmte||$2,000|
|45Th Senate District Democrat-Farmer-Labor||$1,900|
|Kubly, Gary W||$1,500|
|District 66B Houseclub||$1,000|
- See also: Minnesota State Senate elections, 2002
Elections for the office of Minnesota State Senate consisted of a primary election on September 10, 2002, and a general election on November 5, 2002.
During the 2002 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $5,317,916. The top 10 contributors were:
|2002 Donors, Minnesota State Senate|
|Minnesota Democrat-Farmer-Labor Senate Majority Caucus||$28,057|
|Kubly For State Representative, Friends Of Gary||$22,866|
|Senate Victory Fund Of Minnesota||$14,250|
|Minnesota Association Of Realtors||$13,800|
- See also: Minnesota State Senate elections, 2000
Elections for the office of Minnesota State Senate consisted of a primary election on September 12, 2000, and a general election on November 7, 2000.
During the 2000 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $5,516,612. The top 10 contributors were:
|2000 Donors, Minnesota State Senate|
|Minnesota Democrat-Farmer-Labor Senate Majority Caucus||$42,458|
|Minnesota Republican Party||$31,675|
To be eligible to run for the Minnesota State Senate, a candidate must be:
- Eligible to vote in Minnesota
- Have not filed for more than one office for the upcoming primary or general election
- At least 21 years old
- A resident of Minnesota for at least one year
- A resident of the legislative district for at least 6 months before the general election date
| How Vacancies are filled in State Legislatures |
In Minnesota, all vacancies in the senate must be filled by a special election. It is up to the appropriate elections authorities to schedule an election as soon as possible. The election must be held during the next general election if there is more than 150 days left in the term. If the senate is in session, a special election must be called by the Governor no later than 35 days after the vacancy happened. If a vacancy happens when the senate is out of session and less than 150 days are left in the term, a special election must called by the Governor as soon as possible. This is to allow the winner of the election to be sworn in when the senate reconvenes.
- See also: Redistricting in Minnesota
The Legislature handles redistricting, with the Governor holding veto power. Each chamber has its own redistricting committee, with a joint committee of two Republicans and two Democrats from each chamber.
Minnesota received its local census data on March 16, 2011. The state's population increased 7.8 percent, even though four of the five most populated cities showed slight decreases in population; only Rochester (pop. 106,769, up 24.4 percent) showed growth.
At the time of redistricting, Republicans controlled the Legislature, and Democrats the governorship; redistricting was expected to favor Republicans as Democrats held numerous underrepresented districts. Governor Mark Dayton vetoed the legislative plan on May 19, 2011. In June 2011, a panel created by the Minnesota Supreme Court took over the process when it heard lawsuits over the matter, even though the Legislature's deadline of February 2012 had not yet come up. On February 21, 2012, the panel released a final map, pairing 16 incumbents in the Senate.
- See also: Comparison of state legislative salaries
As of 2013, members of the Minnesota legislature are paid $31,140.90/year. Senators receive $96/day per diem while representatives receive $66/day. The rates are set by the legislature.
- See also: Partisan composition of state senates
|Party||As of February 2015|
In the Minnesota Senate, members of the majority caucus elect a leader, who directs the business of the Senate and is considered the leader of the Senate. The minority caucus elects its own leaders. The Senate President is elected on the opening day of each biennial session.
When sworn in
Minnesota legislators assume office the first day of biennial (2-year) session. Minnesota law provides that: "The legislature shall meet at the seat of government on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in January of each odd-numbered year. When the first Monday in January falls on January 1, it shall meet on the first Wednesday after the first Monday. It shall also meet when called by the governor to meet in special session."
The Minnesota State Senate has thirteen (13) standing committees:
- Capital Investment
- Commerce Protection
- Environment and Energy
- Health, Human Services and Housing
- Higher Education and Workforce Development
- Jobs, Agriculture and Rural Development
- Judiciary and Public Safety
- Rules and Administration
- State and Local Government
- Transportation and Public Safety
Partisan balance 1992-2013
From 1992-2013, the Democratic Party was the majority in the Minnesota State Senate for 20 years while the Republicans were the majority for two years. The Minnesota State Senate is 1 of 16 state senates that was Democratic for more than 80 percent of the years between 1992-2013. For the final year of the study Minnesota was under a Democratic trifecta.
Across the country, there were 541 Democratic and 517 Republican state senates from 1992 to 2013.
Over the course of the 22-year study, state governments became increasingly more partisan. At the outset of the study period (1992), 18 of the 49 states with partisan legislatures had single-party trifectas and 31 states had divided governments. In 2013, only 13 states had divided governments, while single-party trifectas held sway in 36 states, the most in the 22 years studied.
SQLI and partisanship
The chart below depicts the partisanship of the Minnesota state government and the state's SQLI ranking for the years studied. For the SQLI, the states were ranked from 1-50, with 1 being the best and 50 the worst. Minnesota has been under divided government for the entirety of the study (1992-2012) until the state elected a Democratic trifecta in 2012. Minnesota also ranked in the top-5 of the SQLI ranking for the entirety of the study, reaching its lowest ranking (5th) in four separate years. The state hit the top spot twice, in 2011 and 2012, under divided government.
- SQLI average with Democratic trifecta: N/A
- SQLI average with Republican trifecta: N/A
- SQLI average with divided government: 3.14
- Minnesota Senate official website
- Minnesota Legislature official website
- Senate Briefly, Daily Coverage of the 2009 session
- Minnesota Legislature on Wikipedia
- Minnesota State Senate election results
- census.gov, "Population Distribution and Change: 2000 to 2010," accessed May 15, 2014
- U.S. Census Bureau, "States Ranked by Population," April 2, 2001
- Minnesota Senate, "Senator Demographics - 2013-2014 Biennium, Eighty-Eighth Legislature," accessed June 23, 2014
- Minnesota State Legislature, "Frequently Asked Questions About the Minnesota Legislature," accessed June 23, 2014
- WCCO, "Reality Check: Minn. Legislature Boosts Pay Out Of Public Eye," January 7, 2013
- Daily Globe, "Lawmakers face long list of issues," January 4, 2015
- Twin Cities Daily Planet, "Previewing the 2014 Minnesota legislative session: Issues and contrasting agendas," February 24, 2014
- KXLT, "Minnesota Legislature now in session," February 25, 2014
- Minnesota Public Radio, "Minnesota Legislature preview: 10 issues to watch," January 4, 2013
- Minnesota House of Representatives, "Property tax relief, new fourth tier rate highlight conferred tax bill," May 20, 2013
- Wall Street Journal, "States' Rift on Taxes Widens," May 23, 2013
- Associated Press, "Minn. Lawmakers Near Finish With Tax Hike Votes," May 20, 2013
- Isanti County News, "Taxpayers all pay more for wasteful government spending," May 29, 2013
- National Conference of State Legislatures, "State Experiences with Annual and Biennial Budgeting," updated April 2011
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "Budget Processes in the States, Summer 2008," accessed February 21, 2014
- Pew Charitable Trusts, "States’ Use of Cost-Benefit Analysis," July 29, 2013
- U.S. Public Interest Research Group, "Following the Money 2014 Report," accessed April 15, 2014
- Sunlight Foundation, "Ten Principles for Opening Up Government Information," accessed June 16, 2013
- Follow the Money, "Minnesota 2010 - Candidates," accessed June 23, 2014
- Follow the Money, "Minnesota 2008 - Candidates," accessed August 23, 2013
- Follow the Money, "Minnesota 2006 - Candidates," accessed August 23, 2013
- Follow the Money, "Minnesota 2004 - Candidates," accessed August 23, 2013
- Follow the Money, "Minnesota 2002 - Candidates," accessed August 23, 2013
- Follow the Money, "Minnesota 2000 - Candidates," accessed August 23, 2013
- Minnesota Secretary of State, "Filing for Office," accessed June 23, 2014
- Minnesota Revisor of Statutes, "Minnesota Election Law," accessed December 17, 2013 (Referenced Statute 351.055)
- Minnesota Revisor of Statutes, "Minnesota Election Law," accessed December 17, 2013 (Referenced Statute 204D.19 (1)-(3))
- U.S. Census Bureau, "U.S. Census Bureau Delivers Minnesota's 2010 Census Population Totals, Including First Look at Race and Hispanic Origin Data for Legislative Redistricting," March 16, 2011
- NCSL.org, "2012 State Legislator Compensation and Per Diem Table," accessed March 18, 2013
- Minnesota Legislature, "Frequently Asked Questions About the Minnesota Legislature," accessed June 23, 2014
- Minnesota Senate, "Minnesota Senate Members - 2013-2014 Biennium Eighty-Eighth Legislature," accessed June 23, 2014
- Minnesota Statutes, "Chapter 3, Section 3.05," accessed December 17, 2013
- Minnesota Statutes, "Chapter 3, Section 3.011," accessed December 17, 2013
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