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Laws that Relate to Minnesota Legislative and Congressional Redistricting

Redistricting for congressional and legislative districts is established and governed by both the federal and state constitutions and federal and state laws. Here is a brief outline of those provisions.

Summary Description

The U.S. Constitution
Legislative districts must be substantially equal in population "... nor shall any state ... deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." This "equal protection clause" of the 14th Amendment was held by the U.S. Supreme Court to apply to redistricting of state legislatures, and to require legislative districts to be substantially equal in population, in Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533 (1964). U.S. Const. amend. XIV
Congressional districts must be equal as practicable "The house of representatives shall be composed of members chosen every two years by the people of the several states ..." This provision was held by the U.S. Supreme Court to apply to state redistricting of congressional districts, and to require congressional districts to be as equal as practicable, in Wesberry v. Sanders, 376 U.S. 1 (1964). U.S. Const. art. I, sec. 2

Federal Statute
No one can be denied equal voting power based on race, color, or ethnic group "No voting qualification or prerequisite to voting or standard, practice, or procedure shall be imposed or applied by any State or political subdivision in a manner which results in a denial or abridgement of the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color ... [or] because he is a member of a language majority group." Federal Voting Rights Act of 1965, section 2 [42 U.S.C. sec. 1973(a) and 1973b(f)(2)]

Minnesota Constitution
Districts of Senate and House members are based on population "Apportionment of members. The number of members who compose the senate and the house of representatives shall be prescribed by law. The representation in both houses shall be apportioned equally throughout the different sections of the state in proportion to the population thereof." Minn. Const. art. IV, sec. 2.
District boundaries are redrawn according to the census "Census enumeration apportionment; congressional and legislative district boundaries; senate districts. At its first session after each enumeration of the inhabitants of this state made by the authority of the United States, the legislature shall have the power to prescribe the bounds of congressional and legislative districts. Senators shall be chosen by single districts of convenient contiguous territory. No representative districts shall be divided in the formation of a senate district. The senate districts shall be numbered in a regular series." Minn. Const. art. IV, sec. 3.

Minnesota Statutes
The Senate has 67 members with 67 districts

The House has 134 members with 134 districts

Minnesota Statutes, sections 2.021 and 2.031, subdivision 1, provide as follows:

2.021 Number of Members.
For each legislature, until a new apportionment shall have been made, the senate is composed of 67 members and the house of representatives is composed of 134 members.

2.031 Apportionment.
   Subdivision 1. Legislative districts. The representatives in the senate and house of representatives are apportioned throughout the state in 67 senate districts and 134 house districts. Each senate district is entitled to elect one senator and each house district is entitled to elect one representative.

District boundaries, based on the 1990 census, are defined in statute

Minnesota Statutes, sections 2.742-2.812 describe congressional districts, and sections 2.043-.705 describe legislative districts. Those districts are based upon the 1990 census and have been superceded by the court decision establishing new districts based upon the 2000 census. Redistricting legislation would repeal and replace these sections with new boundaries. The legislature has not enacted new boundaries to reflect the 2000 census.

Minnesota Statutes, section 2.91, enacted in 1994, provides for the distribution and correction of enacted legislative and congressional redistricting plans.

Local governments determine local election boundaries after redistricting

Minnesota Statutes, section 204B.135, deals with redistricting by local governments of their election districts after legislative redistricting.

Minnesota Statutes, section 204B.14, deals with determination of voting precincts by local governments after legislative and congressional redistricting.

Minnesota Statutes, sections 204B.145 and 204B.146, deal with the role of the Secretary of State in assisting local governments in connection with redistricting.

Redistricting affects cities, counties, school districts, and other local units of government

Minnesota Statutes, section 205.84, requires cities that elect city council members to redistrict the wards after each census if necessary to keep wards "as equal in population as practicable." This is done after legislative redistricting.

Minnesota Statutes, section 205A.12, subdivisions 4 and 6, deal with school board election district redistricting by school boards after legislative redistricting.

Minnesota Statutes, section 375.025, deals with redistricting of county commissioner districts by county boards.

Minnesota Statutes, section 383A.23, subdivision 5, provides that redistricting of Ramsey County is governed by the same law (section 375.025, mentioned above) that applies to other counties. This special cross-reference for Ramsey County exists presumably because Ramsey County is the only home rule charter county, to which the regular statute might not otherwise apply.

Minnesota Statutes, section 473.123, requires the legislature to redistrict the Metropolitan Council. The new districts are to become effective in years ending in "3."

Redistricting affects the state court of appeals, the University of Minnesota, and MnSCU

Minnesota Statutes, section 480A.02, subdivisions 3, 4, and 5, require that the Minnesota Court of Appeals include at least one judge from each congressional district, based on where the judge lived at the time of initial appointment or election. The law specifies how adjustments are made by the court after congressional redistricting by the legislature.

Minnesota Statutes, section 137.024, relating to the University of Minnesota, provides: "At least one member of the board of regents of the university shall be a resident of each congressional district."

Minnesota Statutes, section 136F.02, subdivision 1, relating to the Board of Trustees of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU), provides: "At least one member of the board must be a resident of each congressional district."

For more information, you can view a videotaped presentation about redistricting presented to the House Redistricting Committee. Go to the archive page for House TV and select the video from the January 23, 2001 meeting.

August 2002

House Research Department  ♦  600 State Office Building, Saint Paul, MN  55155  ♦  House.Research@house.mn  ♦  651-296-6753