Legislative Branch

Be Respectful and Do Your Homework

Delaware House Majority Leader Pete Schwartzkopf chairs several committees, including House Administration and Rules committees. He served in the minority party for years and learned lessons in that role. A former state police officer in Dover, Schwartzkopf believes the no-nonsense approach to police work also applies to chairing a legislative committee.

Stateline Midwest ~ December 2012

The 2013 legislative sessions in the Midwest will begin soon with hundreds of new lawmakers taking office, but with a balance of power between the two major political parties that remains largely unchanged.

Stateline Midwest ~ November 2012

When the 2012 session of the Kansas Legislature adjourned last May, lawmakers left one important piece of business unfinished. Their inability to come to closure on the politically charged issue of redistricting left Kansas alone among the 50 states without a new set of maps going into this year’s congressional and legislative elections, and eventually forced a panel of federal district court judges to finish the job.

This year’s stalemate may have been unprecedented in the Sunflower State, but Kansas’ redistricting process is unique among Midwestern states in other ways as well. Like all other states, Kansas relies on U.S. Census Bureau data as a starting point in the decennial process of drawing new district lines. 

But the Kansas Constitution requires that the population data provided by the federal government be adjusted before maps are drawn.

Stateline Midwest ~ October 2012

States laws seek to middle ground on lobbying and policymaking: Accept lobbying as a part of the policymaking process, but regulate the activity to guard against the dangers of lobbyists having an undue influence.

Stateline Midwest ~ September 2012

Ohio voters will decide in November whether the task of redistricting should be taken away from state elected officials and put in the hands of a 12-member commission. 

It can sometimes be hard to find common ground in the heat of a legislative session. Finding common ground with someone from another political party often can be even more elusive. But some legislators have found a way to work across the aisle.

Stateline Midwest ~ Feburary 2012

In Nebraska, the jockeying to become chair of one of the state’s 14 standing committees can last from the day one session ends to the day the next session is ready to begin.

“People can spend the entire interim trying to line up votes,” notes Sen. Mike Flood, speaker of the Unicameral Legislature.

As in many other states, Nebraska’s committees are a critical part of the decision-making...

Stateline Midwest ~ March 2012

For decades, Nebraska legislators have had the statutory authority to call themselves into special session. They never have, but last year, Sen. Annette Dubas and some of her colleagues started taking steps to make state legislative history.

April 2012 ~ Stateline Midwest

High above the main entrance to the Minnesota State Capitol building, the Quadriga, a striking gold-leafed copper sculpture of a four-horse chariot and figures, keeps steady watch over the grounds that surround it.


But it’s what is inside the historic, 107-year-old landmark that really sets the Minnesota Capitol apart from others in the Midwest.

The building is home to the region’s largest legislature — 134 members in the House, 67 in the Senate.

Stateline Midwest ~ May 2012

When can and do bills enacted into law actually take effect?