Constitutional amendment on Minnesota ballot: What you need to know


On Nov. 8, your ballot in Minnesota will include the presidential election and races for U.S. House, the Minnesota Legislature, judicial seats, and likely a school board race or school funding question. But all Minnesotans will also be asked to vote on a constitutional amendment.

THE QUESTION: Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to remove state lawmakers' power to set their own salaries, and instead establish an independent, citizens-only council to prescribe salaries of lawmakers?

Minnesota lawmakers are currently paid an annual salary of $31,140 for their technically part-time job, covering the January to May session. Lawmakers can also draw daily “per diem” payments of $77 for House members and $96 for Senate members. Legislators are also reimbursed for mileage to and from the State Capitol, and outstate lawmakers can receive up to $1,500 per month for housing closer to the Capitol.

WHAT A YES VOTE MEANS: If the amendment passes, the governor and the chief justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court would appoint a bipartisan, 16-member citizens council to set state lawmaker salaries every two years. No elected legislators or former legislators can sit on the council, nor can their spouses. State employees, judges and lobbyists are also excluded.

WHAT A NO VOTE MEANS: Currently, Minnesota legislators must vote to give themselves a pay raise – something that is rarely done because of the political optics. Lawmakers haven’t voted to give themselves a pay raise since 1999.