Minnesota Legislature 101

This is a very basic overview of the Minnesota Legislature. See the Quick Links for additional, in depth information if you need more.

You know that Minnesota government is made up of three separate branches, the executive, the legislative, and the judicial, with each exercising individual authority in order to serve the people of the community, state, and nation.

The legislative branch is responsible for the enactment and revision of laws, and this is the branch we work most closely with as we advocate for library issues, including funding.

The Minnesota Legislature consists of two bodies: the Senate and the House of Representatives.

The Minnesota Legislature has 201 members and the State is divided into 67 legislative districts. Voters elect one senator from each of those districts. Senators are elected for a four-year term. In election years ending in 0, such as 2000 or 1990, Senators serve a two-year term in order to provide for the redistricting process done in conjunction with the U.S. Census.

Each Senate district is divided into two sections. Voters elect one House member, or representative, from each section, making a total of 134 representatives in the House. These districts are identified with an "A" or a "B." Representatives are elected for a two-year term. In the 2011-2012 session, Republicans gained majorities in both the House and Senate.

When Does the Minnesota Legislature Meet? The Minnesota Legislature meets each year, functioning on a two-year cycle called a biennium. In odd-numbered years, the session begins approximately the first week in January. In even numbered years, it convenes on a date set by joint agreement of both bodies.

  • The first year (odd-number) is called the long year, and runs from January through mid-May. It is the year that is focused on government funding issues, including library systems.
  • The second year (even-number), is called the short year, and typically runs from February through the end of April. This year is usually the bonding year. It is the year that we request money in the bonding bills to support library accessibility or library building projects that will be included in a larger bonding bill for public projects.

Video: How a bill becomes a law in Minnesota


Find your legislators: Who Represents Me?

Legislative Committees Most Closely Tied to Library Issues

The names of and even the existence of committees and leadership in the House and Senate can change with each legislative session. Each biennium, our library lobbyist shares the committee names that we should pay attention to and advises us on strategy.

Minnesota Senate Committees

In the Legislature, the MN library community is most closely involved with the following Senate committees:

  • E-12 Finance Committee
  • E-12 Policy
  • Capital Investment
  • Higher Education Finance and Policy Committee
  • Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Legacy Finance

MN House of Representatives Committees

The House Committees that the MN library community is most closely involved with include:

  • Education Finance
  • Education Innovation Policy
  • Capital Investment
  • Higher Education and Career Readiness Policy and Finance*
  • Legacy Funding Finance

There is even more information the Quick Links for Advocates page.