Minnesota’s Citizen Legislature? 1/3 of Minnesota house members have no outside job


Last month Alpha News took a look at the occupations of members of the Minnesota state senate and found that 40% of sitting senators don’t currently hold a job outside the legislature.

Alpha News once again perused candidate profiles and websites and determined that nearly 1/3 of the 133 current House members don’t hold an outside job. A larger percentage of DFL’ers fell into this category with 21 of the current 61 representatives not working outside of their paid legislative gig, four of those members were at retirement age.  Twenty of the 72 GOP reps had no other job, with three of those members at retirement age.

Other notable findings:

The DFL has far more attorneys in its House ranks with seventeen verses only two in the GOP House. The split was more even in the state senate where both parties had five members listed as attorneys or working in the legal field.

The GOP has a large number of business owners at seventeen members, while the DFL had none.

The DFL had ten total members listed as teachers, or college instructors, the GOP only one. Although it should be noted that reps like Gene Pelowski, D-Winona, listed himself as a “Educator”, but only teaches one course every fall at Winona State University. Rep Barb Yarusso, D-Shoreview, also lists herself as an “educator”, but she’s listed on candidate profiles as a “freelance science and math tutor”. (We left both Pelowski and Yarusso in the teacher tally.) Rep Cheryl Youakim, D-Hopkins, lists “Education” as her occupation, but neither her candidate website nor candidate profiles show evidence of having held a teaching job.  But she has started a “Early Childhood Learning advocacy group.” (We put Rep Youakim in the “none” category.)

One of the most interesting findings is that the “F” in DFL has no representation in the Minnesota House from Democrats.  Nearly 10% of the House GOP’s delegation list farming or raising livestock as an occupation.  On the Senate Side, three DFL Senators are farmers, while there are none from the GOP.

The miscellaneous category includes job titles like; grounds manager/historical preservation, contract pilot, church administrator, author, government policy analyst, and baggage handler.  Assistant Majority Leader Tim Sanders, R-Blaine, who used to be in the insurance business, but now lists “Consultant” and works for a public affairs and lobbying firm, was also included in the “miscellaneous” category.

There’s talk at the Capitol of raising pay for the job of state legislator. Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, D-Cook, told the Star Tribune last week that ” several capable candidates for office bowed out because they could not commit to the time required, especially at the modest salary” and noted that the $31,500 per year salary (plus per diem expenses,) hasn’t been raised since 1999.  The job can certainly disrupt any normal working person’s schedule.  But it’s a mid-January-mid-May gig, (with two weeks off for spring break.)  The discussion will continue and may grow the the ranks of full-time legislators in Minnesota.