Minnesota Senate








Minnesota Senate Offices

Senate Counsel, Research and Fiscal Analysis

Bill Summaries   Bill Summaries of selected Senate and House files are available here.
Side-By-Side Comparison Bill Summaries   Side by Side Comparison Bill Summaries of selected Senate and House files are available here.
Act Summaries   Act Summaries of selected Laws Chapters are available here.
Budget Tracking Spreadsheets   These pages contain spreadsheets developed during legislative sessions to record state budget decisions or to provide analyses of specific budget proposals.
Budget Summaries and Fiscal Issues Briefs   These papers provide post-session summaries of budget decisions, including the annual Fiscal Review, and reports and analyses on specific budget topics.
Research Reports   Research reports present issues currently being considered in the Legislature. Some of these reports are requested by senators or required by law. Other reports are the product of interim work by staff on issues that are of interest to legislative committees, including the annual Fiscal Review.
Special Resources   Senate Counsel are sometimes asked to prepare a detailed explanation of a particular area of the law for presentation to a legislative committee or to a continuing legal education program for legislative attorneys.
   Treatises   Papers that may be of interest to persons outside the office are posted here.
   Presentations   Slide shows that may be of interest to persons outside the office are posted here.
The Senate Counsel, Research and Fiscal Analysis Office is a nonpartisan organization that provides legal, research, and fiscal analysis services to the Senate. The staff includes attorneys, legislative analysts, fiscal analysts, and support personnel. Each professional staff member is assigned to one or more Senate committees or budget divisions. Staff services are available to all members of the Senate for matters of public business. The office supports the Senate in four general ways:
  1. The staff assigned to each committee or budget division work as a team to support the work of the committee or division. They attend committee meetings, present information, answer Senators' questions, draft legislation, and conduct research requested by members.
  2. Members of the staff provide services to individual Senators on request. All staff maintain a confidential relationship with Senators; a project requested by one Senator is discussed with others only if the requesting Senator approves.
  3. During the interim, staff work with Senators to anticipate, define, and study emerging issues. Staff members may focus on policy questions broader than those relating to specific bills and conduct original research in areas of importance to the Senate.
  4. Staff members serve as general experts for the Senate in assigned subject areas.
Legal, research and fiscal analysis services are provided to Senators and Senate committees and budget divisions on request, in anticipation of requests, and as a continuing role of the office.

Some more specific examples include:

  • Policy research - Staff collect, analyze, and disseminate information on legislative issues and concerns. An analysis may include policy alternatives and descriptions of approaches taken by other states.
  • Legal research - Staff may explain the law on a particular topic, and provide analysis, including advice on constitutional issues.
  • Budget and statistical analysis - Staff use computer hardware, simulation programs and other software to provide information, conduct research, and prepare Budget Tracking Spreadsheets and General Budget Information and Issue Briefs.
  • Bill drafting and bill summary preparation - Staff draft bills and amendments to accomplish particular purposes. Staff also summarize bills being heard in committee.
  • Review of bills - Staff review all bills heard by committees and work with authors to be sure that bills are drafted correctly and carry out the author's intent.
  • Committee meetings - Staff attend all committee and division meetings, including conference committees, and provide legal and research support to members and the committee. On request, staff draft amendments to bills being heard in committee. (Committee and floor sessions run more efficiently when amendments are prepared in advance of the meeting.)
  • Floor sessions - The office has an assigned desk in the Senate Chamber. One or more staff will be there when the Senate is in session to answer legal, policy and fiscal questions and to draft amendments.
  • Legislative oversight - Staff members monitor implementation of laws to help the Senate fulfill its executive branch oversight responsibility.
  • Budget oversight
    • Review the use of appropriations and the implementation of fiscal language to determine if legislative intent is being met.
    • Gather and coordinate information on issues of fiscal policy and practice.
    • Maintain historical perspective on agency budgets and activities.
    • Maintain effective lines of communication with top-level administrators involved in the development of operating and capital plans for state agencies, political subdivisions, or other organizations seeking or receiving state money.
    • Monitor and analyze developments in federal, state, and local governments for their effects on Minnesota state programs.
  • Special projects - Staff may design, organize, or conduct seminars, conferences, or workshops for the Senate or Senate committees.
Date timeline Description
July 1 State fiscal year begins each year, and in odd-numbered years, state fiscal biennium begins.
July through December Groundwork is laid for upcoming legislative session. Ongoing budget activity, budget-related events, trends, and issues are analyzed for their fiscal policy implications. Budget divisions, committees, and legislative commissions hold special meetings to examine pending issues.
End of November Minnesota Management and Budget issues November Forecast of state revenues and expenditures.
Beginning of January Legislature convenes, begins official budget hearings and committee hearings to discuss pertinent issues and bills. Staff drafts bills and amendments upon request of Senators.
Fourth Tuesday in January in odd-numbered years, or third Tuesday in February, if a new governor has just been elected Governor issues detailed budget for following biennium.
Mid February Governor issues detailed budget and policy bills for the next biennium.
End of February Minnesota Management and Budget issues February Forecast of state revenues and expenditures.
March to June Legislature finishes committee and budget hearings, bills are debated and voted on in floor sessions, and conference committees meet to finalize bills. Governor signs or vetoes legislation.
Monday following third Saturday in May Constitution mandates end of regular session.

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