The number of legislators and the arrangement of
legislative districts in the state are prescribed by law, consistent with
certain constitutional requirements. The state constitution expresses three
requirements with which the law on legislative districts must comply.
- Representation in both houses must be apportioned equally throughout the state in proportion to population.
- Senators must be chosen by single districts of convenient contiguous territory numbered in regular series.
- No representative district may be divided in the formation of a senate district.
These three constitutional requirements affect the number
of legislators and legislative districts in two ways. First, only one senator
may be elected from each senate district. Second, the number of representative
districts must be equal to, or a multiple of, the number of senate districts
(because each representative district must be contained within a single senate
district, and both types of district must be apportioned according to
Minn. const., art. IV, secs. 2, 3
Current law implementing these constitutional provisions
partitions the state into 67 senate districts, each of which elects one senator.
(This has been the size of the Senate for about 90 years.) Each of the 67 senate
districts is subdivided into two house districts, making a total of 134
districts, each of which elects one representative. (This has been the size of
the House for about 40 years; before that, for about 50 years, there were 131
The result of this arrangement of districts is that the
House is precisely twice the size of the Senate; one third of the 201 members of
the legislature are senators, and two-thirds are representatives. Each senator
currently represents about 80,000 persons, and each representative about half
The federal constitution, as interpreted by the courts
since the 1960s, requires that legislative districts be reapportioned (their
boundaries redrawn) after each decennial federal census, to reflect changes in
population distribution during the preceding decade. This must be accomplished
in time for the first state general election after each census. If the
legislature and governor do not accomplish this by statutory law, the courts
intervene to draw new legislative district lines.
sec. 2.021, 2.031, subd. 1;
(Legislative districts are established by a 2012 court decision
establishing new districts based on the 2010 census)