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Minnesota Legislature Provides Quality Journalism to Inform Public

While reading Bluestem Prairie‘s note on the Minnesota House’s unanimous approval Friday of a bill to put purple signs up on seven miles of Highway 5 in Eden Prairie and Chanhassen, including the part past Paisley Park, to deem the road the Prince Rogers Nelson Memorial Highway, I noticed a really remarkable service provided by the Minnesota Legislature: both the Minnesota House and the Minnesota Senate provide their own news articles on Legislative activity.

The Minnesota House Public Information Service publishes Session Daily, a stream of professedly non-partisan reports on bills moving through the House and its committees. On Friday alone, HPIS published six articles online, covering bills on the Prince highway, pension policy and retirement, IT as critical infrastructure, and public safety, plus a week-in-review post linking back to 21 posts from the agency. The articles are not boring press releases written to make the Minnesota Legislature look good; HPIS produces useful reporting chock full of quotes pro and con from legislators and hyperlinks to bill text, amendments, hearing documents, roll call votes, and HPIS video of hearings and floor debates.

HPIS posts this Nonpartisan Code of Ethics for its writers and other staff, adapted from the National Conference of State Legislatures guidelines for legislative information and communications staff:

House Public Information Services staff are public servants and have obligations and responsibilities to the general public, legislators and fellow staff members. Responsibilities are expected to be performed with the highest level of integrity and honesty.

House Public Information Services staff should be mindful that the public views them as representatives of the Legislature as an institution. In keeping with their responsibility to build and uphold the public’s trust, staff should provide accurate, useful and timely information.

House Public Information Services staff should always be vigilant to avoid any conflicts of interest that may interfere with the work of the institution or be contrary to the nonpartisan mission of the department. (The following are examples of conduct that could impair a staff member’s nonpartisan status: serving as a campaign official for a candidate for partisan political office, writing a letter to the editor in support of or in opposition to a candidate for partisan political office, acting as a spokesperson for a special interest group or performing freelance work in partisan political activities.)

Because of the position of responsibility, House Public Information Services staff are expected to uphold the law and all applicable regulations. Resources should always be used for the public good, not private gain [House Public Information Services Office, About page, retrieved 2023.04.24].

South Dakota’s Legislative Research Council works hard to inform legislators, and it posts bills, amendments, and hearing schedules and minutes, but it doesn’t have a public outreach branch comparable to the Minnesota House Public Information Service or the Minnesota Senate Media Services. The SDLRC doesn’t publish much for the public beyond press releases, and even those are mostly meeting announcements. The SDLRC issued zero press releases during the entire 2023 Session. The SDLRC lists a staff of 26; none are listed as public communications staff. HPIS alone lists 25 staff dedicated to informing the public about House proceedings.

SDLRC does good work with the staff it has. But the Minnesota Legislature spends good money to provide the additional vital service of explaining legislation and legislative activity to its constituents.

17 Comments

  1. Jenny 2023-04-24

    I have read about Offutt potato farms and their buying up pine forests.throughout MN and abusing water permits. It’s sad and criminal what big fat corporate farming is doing here and they need to be fined big time for not following our laws.

  2. e platypus onion 2023-04-24

    Qualoty journalism indeed, Fake Noize cans Tucker the liar Carlson.

  3. Jenny 2023-04-24

    Of course, MNs legislature and news media is more open in informing the public. Like I’ve always said here on DFP, SD could learn a lot from MN in the way it gets things done for the better. Gratitude checks for MN frontline workers from covid money, LGBTQ rights laws, women’s right to choose laws, universal school lunches for our kids, more grants for increasing the number of mental health counselors in schools, 100% clean energy bill by 2040, the list goes on and on.
    https://mn.gov/governor/accomplishments/
    https://www.mprnews.org/story/2023/02/21/minnesotas-largest-votereligibility-change-in-half-century-nears-passage
    Perhaps the greatest accomplishment done here this year is voting rights. We take people’s right to vote in MN seriously.
    DFL will always try to have your back SD Dems. We have worked you on Trans refuge and Abortion refuge. You will be protected coming here for gender affirming care and abortion procedures.

  4. P. Aitch 2023-04-24

    Dearest Jenny says, ” Like I’ve always said here on DFP, SD could learn a lot from MN in the way it gets things done for the better. ” – tru dat

  5. Mark Anderson 2023-04-24

    Minnesota does things better than South Dakota!! Say it ain’t so.

  6. Jenny 2023-04-24

    Thanks P Aitch. This is what I mean when I say the DFL has your back, SD. The MNDFL cares about SDs trans youth more than SDs elected leaders, obviously. Erin Murphy, DFL Senator and human right champion, speaks from the heart with much empathy about how out of state trans youth will be safe in MN as the Trans refuge bill is officially voted and passed. Got to love MN for doing the right thing and being on the right side of history. She is the kind of leader that we need more of in Washington. :)

    https://twitter.com/ErinInTheMorn/status/1650159856756703232

  7. All Mammal 2023-04-24

    In addition to MN divulging legislative details and what my friends here just mentioned, MN has savoir faire. Where MN boasts Prince, obsequious SD boasts Kristi’s gaudy fireworks. Whatever MN is doing, SD is doing the exact opposite. MN spends a ton on their zebra mussels, healthcare professionals, they let everyone vote, they don’t massacre their otter population, no bad chemicals or lead tackle, nice highways, and they even take in the refugees from the most exotic of climes. SD went the other direction. Bad allergies okay. Gosh.

  8. LCJ 2023-04-24

    Wonderful. Please let us know when you move.

  9. grudznick 2023-04-24

    Prince Rogers Nelson? Is that the name of that fellow who sang songs back in the hippy years or maybe the punk years about red corvettes and such? His name was really Rogers Nelson?

    I’ll be danged all to heck. It sounds like a fine highway. grudznick approves.

  10. DaveFN 2023-04-24

    And then there’s this:

    “A quarter of Minnesota lakes now have phosphorus levels that are so high that the state advises against swimming, fishing or boating in them. Fueled by these nutrients, algae blooms take over, covering the lake in sometimes toxic residue that thrives in warm, nutrient-rich water, as was the case in Pokegama Lake earlier this year. The protists choke out aquatic life, especially fish that thrive in cold, deep waters. This is all exacerbated by warming air temperatures.”

    https://www.popsci.com/environment/minnesota-lakes-low-oxygen/

  11. grudznick 2023-04-24

    I wouldn’t drink that MN water, folks. It’s an ecological nightmare over there, but the lakes have neato names.

  12. Curt 2023-04-25

    Cory, I hesitate to play grammar policeman, but with all due respect, “quality” is not an adjective. Nouns such as ‘journalism’ can just as easily be of poor quality as high quality.

  13. Jenny 2023-04-25

    I will be the first one to tell you that the Minneapolis police department is racist and corrupt.
    The Midwest as a whole is as racist as the South if you ask me. The one good thing is our elected progressive leaders in the last few recent years are working hard to fight racial disparities, unlike in SD. The Voting Rights Bill which was passed and signed and signed into law this year by Walz is a huge step.
    The achievement gap in MN deeply frustrates educators. Universal free school lunches is part of the equation to overcome the problem.
    The history of “racial covenants” written into housing deeds in Minneapolis neighborhoods is appalling. This was a common practice in cities throughout this racist country. Can we educate students about this fact in states like SD where its social studies curriculum was updated to the white supremacy Hillsdale standards?

  14. Jenny 2023-04-25

    Grudz, Prince Rogers Nelson is the singer’s full real name. I always thought Prince was a stage name, but it was indeed his real name given to him at birth.

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