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Frequently Asked Questions About the Minnesota Legislature

How are committee chairs selected? How are members assigned to committees?

Each biennium the leaders in the House and the Senate set the number and scope of the standing committees and establish committee chairs according to which party is in the majority. Whichever party holds the most seats in either the House or the Senate is considered the Majority Caucus.


The majority caucus in the Senate elects a majority leader, who is also chair of the Rules and Administration Committee. Two other chairs are elected by the entire caucus, the chair of the Tax Committee and the Chair of the Finance Committee. Other chairs are selected by an organizational committee of the majority caucus. Membership on the committees is according to the proportion of each caucus. The minority caucus may offer suggestions of individual members for the minority representation on each committee. The minority caucus also names a "minority lead" on each committee. The Rules and Administration Subcommittee on Conference Committees selects members for conference committees. In addition, no Senator may serve as the chair of a specific committee or one under its jurisdiction for more than three Senate terms.


In the House, the Speaker chooses the committee chairs and appoints members of each committee. Each member is allowed to state his or her preference. In deciding on a committee chair, the speaker usually chooses a senior member with some expertise in the committee's work, but not always. A member cannot serve as the chair of the same standing committee or division during more than three consecutive regular biennial sessions. This Rule does not apply to service as chair of the Committee on Rules and Legislative Administration. Ideally, committee memberships reflect the balance of DFL and Republican members in the House. Each committee, therefore, would be a representative sample of the whole body. Conference committee members are also appointed by the Speaker.