Why Do Minnesota’s State Legislators Only Work 4 Months a Year?
They just wrapped up the 2021 Legislative session and aren't scheduled to reconvene until next January! Why do our state legislators only work 4 months a year?
Minnesota's 2021 Legislative session has already ended
If you've been following state news, you already know that this year's 2021 Legislative session has already ended. Both the Minnesota Senate and the Minnesota House went into recess Monday afternoon, May 17th. And they're not scheduled to reconvene again until next January!
I think I'd like a job that only requires me to work from the end of January through mid-May, wouldn't you? So why is it that our state representatives and senators aren't in session-- working on our behalf, supposedly-- the rest of the year?
So why does the session end so early every year?
Well, technically, it's because the Minnesota constitution spells out that the Legislative session each year can only be 120 days long, beginning in January and then ending in mid-May. It was written that way because, back in the day, being a state legislator was thought to be only a part-time job-- something legislators could do, almost as a service to the state, while still maintaining another full-time job.
Most states have a government similar to Minnesota's. In fact, according to Ballotpedia. only 10 states have full-time legislatures, where legislators meet throughout the calendar. One of them, though, is my home state of Wisconsin. Being a native of America's Dairyland, I think that's why I find it so strange that Minnesota's legislature wraps things up every year by the middle of May.
Most state legislators DO actually work, even after the session is over
I should point out that just because the Legislative session is over doesn't necessarily mean our legislators are done working for the year. According to this Minnesota Post story, many legislators actually DO work year-round, doing things like meeting with constituents, talking to civic organizations, and serving on task forces.
And, much like last year, there will be at least one special session (which, by law, are called by Minnesota's governor) that requires their attendance again this year. One is already set for mid-June, with more possible later in the year as well.
Plus, that same Minnesota Post story says the hours legislators have to keep open when the legislature is in session (with many late nights and unpredictable hours) often makes it tough to work another full-time job, though do, anyway.
So is it time for Minnesota to make being a legislator a full-time job, and have our state legislature meet in-session throughout the calendar? I'm thinking it might make sense-- what do YOU think?
And while we all like to think our politicians are making a lot of money while in office, in reality, there are a lot of other jobs with much higher pay. Like these, for instance. Keep scrolling to see just what are the highest-paying jobs here in Minnesota!