Your legislator’s other job

With all the talk in the Minnesota Legislature of making our state government more friendly to business, it may not surprise anybody to learn that the dominant area of occupation for members of the Minnesota House of Representatives is listed as “business” in demographic data just released by the state.

It’s the first time since 2001 that  House members with business backgrounds outnumber any other occupation. Specifically, it’s the first time since 2001 that “business” has beat out “educator” (though the two tied in 2003). It’s not clear exactly when we last had anybody like the “Swinging Senator”–Sturgeon Lake’s own Florian Chmielewski (pictured above on the cover of his circa 1970s LP release).

Other demographic details like gender, education and age haven’t changed much, but they’re worth noting:

Bachelor’s degree 37%
Master’s degree 19%
Professional degree 16%
Some post-secondary 15%
Doctoral degree 1%
Did not report 7%
Total members 134
Women 32%
Men 68%
Republican members 72
Republican women 25%
Republican men 75%
DFL members 62
DFL women 40%
DFL men 60%
In their twenties 1%
In their thirties 3%
In their forties 25%
In their fifties 31%
In their sixties 16%
In their seventies 3%
Did Not Report 19%

Anything surprise you here?


I’m talking about House members only here, not all legislators as originally written. Apologies. This fact was also obscured by the presence of the “Swinging Senator”–but how could I leave him out of this conversation?

Comments (7)

  1. Submitted by Robbie LaFleur on 01/18/2011 - 09:39 am.

    More Chmielewski fun time: At the Legislative Reference Library we don’t have archival materials for individual legislators, but in the case of Sen. Chmielewski, we have four of his albums. His biography in the Minnesota Legislators Past & Present database is the only one with album covers.

  2. Submitted by Jeff Severns Guntzel on 01/18/2011 - 10:43 am.

    I love it. I bought this record three years ago thinking “One day, and I don’t know when that day will come, this will be useful for a blog post.”

  3. Submitted by Lyn Crosby on 01/18/2011 - 11:28 am.

    At first it surprised me that our legislators are so midlife or older (only 29% in their 40s or younger); but I suppose with the long-termers up there it shouldn’t surprise me. And obviously we’ve lost ground with female legislators (a dismal 1/3) – and unfortunately many of the women we do have are conservative and will not support women’s issues. Ugh.

  4. Submitted by Amy Wilde on 01/18/2011 - 11:47 am.

    I recall that farmers and lawyers once dominated the capitol floor. Although the number of farmers in the general population has greatly declined, the same can’t be said of attorneys. There’s been so much flak about lawyers, however (some deserved, some not,) that I think voters were looking for people less inclined to complicate state laws.
    If so, that strategy hasn’t worked.
    If the “business” guys and gals succeed better than previous legislators in simplifying and streamlining taxes, human service programs, and environmental rules, instead of just writing laws advantageous to their particular type of business, they may accomplish something…time will tell.

  5. Submitted by greg copeland on 01/23/2011 - 10:33 pm.

    My Minnesota House member missed the first week of 2010 Legislative Session due to his “other” job; which is just one of his three government jobs.

    Given all the talk about government pension reform these days my Legislator will be able to make a unique contribution to the debate as he explains his triple- dipping potential to claim three tax payer paid pensions in his retirement.

  6. Submitted by Frankie Tentoes on 02/09/2011 - 09:01 am.

    Nothing against this polka party but Senateman Robert “the fiddle on the floor” Byrd absolutely rips. And his Howard Dean-like yelp near the end of this jig makes me want to vote for him two times–

  7. Submitted by Frankie Tentoes on 02/09/2011 - 09:35 am.

    Mr. Byrd

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