The Legislative Reference Library and the Office of the Secretary of State have just completed a major project digitizing 40,000 previously unavailable official state documents.
The Office of the Secretary of State, as the repository for many of the official records of the state of Minnesota, have kept the official documents from 1900 to 1990, and the index cards used to retrieve them, secure in cabinets and boxes. Now they are available to everyone online: Secretary of State Documents 1900-1990.
Among the interesting findings --
Other documents capture less momentous but important state events --
Access to this rich resource of official state information was funded through a grant from the Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund administered by the Minnesota Historical Society.
Everyone's been asking--does the Legislature ever adjourn early?
Since flexible sessions began in 1973, the Legislature has never adjourned early in the first half of the biennium. The Minnesota Constitution limits the length of a regular session in two ways—it requires that the Legislature adjourn by the first Monday after the third Saturday in May of any year and it limits the number of legislative days in a biennium to 120.
The second year of the biennium is another story—they have adjourned sine die before the constitutional adjournment date in all but two years since 1973. And those two years are subject to interpretation. On May 16, 2010, the Legislature adjourned a day before the deadline. But they adjourned with unfinished business and went into special session on May 17th. In 2002, the House adjourned two days before the required adjournment date of May 20th but the Senate didn’t adjourn until the deadline.
The Legislature has adjourned as early as March four times-- over fifty days before the May deadline.. The earliest March date was March 17th in 1986. Other March adjournments happened in 1974, 1978, and 1982. March 29, 1974 was notable because they had already used 116 of the allotted 120 legislative days.
The Legislative Reference Library has a detailed chart on the dates and number of legislative days for regular and special sessions. We compiled a spreadsheet showing details on adjournments too.
It remains to be seen when adjournment will occur this year!
Visitors to the Capitol who experience vision or reading comprehension issues are now able to use computers in the Legislative Reference Library. JAWS and NVDA screen reader software is installed on select public computers in the Legislative Reference Library (645 State Office Building.)
Visitors may use the computers to access current legislative information as well as the Library's large collection of electronic information and reports. JAWS and NVDA software read the text on the screen in a computerized voice. Guides are available in print and Braille and headphones are provided.
The Library purchased two copies of JAWS using a Technology Accessibility grant administered by the Legislative Coordinating Commission from Telecommunications Access Minnesota Fund appropriations. Another copy is being used by legislative programmers to improve accessibility of the Legislature's website.
Governor Mark Dayton asked the Legislature to make the 2014 session an "Unsession." The Governor proposed "more than 1,000 reforms that will improve state government services, eliminate unnecessary and outdated laws, and simplify the language of our state statutes."
Dayton proposed a number of broad Unsession initiatives on taxes, permitting, rulemaking, and unnecessary laws. The Governor's plain language initiative specifically identifies the annual fishing regulations as being too complex and need to be made more concise. Legislative staff Colbey Sullivan (House Research), David Schmidtke (Legislative Reference Library), and Brad Hagemeier (House Fiscal Analysis Department) went ice fishing recently to test the complexity of the 2014 Fishing Regulations. They plan on testing the 2015 Fishing Regulations next year too.
On Sunday, Representative Lyndon Carlson and Representative Phyllis Kahn will achieve 15,000 days of service in the Minnesota House of Representatives. They still have over 500 days to go to beat Representative Willard Munger's record in the House. And three legislators have even longer service when their House and Senate service is combined.
Representative Carlson could claim seniority over Representative Kahn if we were tracking their service by minutes--he was sworn in before she was!