Minnesota State Bar Association

Certificates of Legislative Position

All submissions for the Legislative Committee, including Bill Summary Forms and Certificates of Legislative Position, should be submitted to
Emily McGann of the MSBA at: emcgann@mnbar.org

A.      The Committee’s review of Certificates.

A Certificate of Legislative Position is addressed to the MSBA President and submitted to the MSBA’s Legislative Representative at the MSBA offices.  For deadlines or notification requirements for Certificates of Legislative Position, see below.

When not submitted during a legislative session, the Legislative Committee reviews these Certificates and makes recommendation.  If submitted during a legislative session (and timelines are too short to allow full committee review), the Certificates are circulated to the members of the Legislative Strategy Action Team (LSAT) which consists of the officers of the MSBA, the MSBA legislative counsel, director level staff and the chair of the Legislative Committee who meet weekly during each legislative session.

Review of all legislative proposals occurs in order to ensure that each proposal is consistent with the mission of the MSBA, is germane to the section, committee or group proposing the legislation, has been adequately reviewed by sections, committees or other interested groups, and is not in conflict with an existing policy or legislative position of the MSBA.  Attention is paid to balance the limited resources of the association that are spent pursuing legislation, with the time-critical need to make particular changes in the law as proposed.

B.      Notice requirements for Certificates.

The MSBA must be notified of legislative positions approved by a section or committee of the MSBA before any public statements are made about the position.  Notification is made in accordance with MSBA Bylaws Article 14 by providing the MSBA with a Certificate of Legislative Position.  MSBA bylaws do not prescribe a specific timeframe in which notice is required.  However, notification of a Certificate of Legislative Position must allow adequate time for meaningful review by the Legislative Committee (pre-session) or LSAT (during session) before any section or committee representatives speak publicly on the group’s position.  As a rule, Certificates delivered less than 3 business days before a planned hearing or testimony or other public statement by section or committee representatives is not adequate notice.

The following practices are followed relating to the required notice to the MSBA President of a Certificate of Legislative Position:

1.       If the legislation is initiated by the section or committee, the Certificate is due before the legislative session begins.

2.       If the legislation is initiated by an outside entity, the section or committee must provide the MSBA sufficient notice to allow review before the section or committee appears at a hearing or speaks to the issue.  Generally, the Certificate is due within 2 weeks after the bill is introduced.

3.       Sometimes it is necessary for a section or committee to take a position on an amendment to a bill during the session related to legislation the section or committee previously did not intend to formally support or oppose.  In that event, notice of the section’s or committee’s position must be provided at the earliest possible time.

4.       In all circumstances, once a section or committee votes to take a formal position, the Certificate relating to that action should be provided promptly to the MSBA and before the position is publicized by representatives of the section or committee.  A Certificate delivered less than 3 business days before a planned hearing or public statement by a section’s or committee’s representatives is generally not adequate notice.


C.      Resources to advance Certificates of Legislative Position

The Legislative Committee oversees allocation of legislative resources of the MSBA.  In limited circumstances, these resources can be applied to advance positions of sections or committees that have not been endorsed by the Assembly.  Sections may not independently hire or engage their own lobbyist.  During the legislative session, requests for legislative resources to assist a section or committee on legislation should be directed to the chair of the Legislative Committee in accordance with the Allocation Policy adopted by the MSBA Assembly.


D.      Vetting proposed legislation through interested outside organizations.

It is the goal of the MSBA’s legislative vetting process that groups interested in particular legislation will have an opportunity to review and provide feedback on the legislation before it is pursued by the MSBA or one of its sections or committees.  Where concerns are raised by interested groups inside or outside the MSBA, those concerns should be addressed and conflicts resolved before the legislation advances.  This process requires vetting proposed legislation through interested outside organizations which can be a challenge.  The Legislative Committee and the MSBA’s legislative representative may assist a committee or section with the vetting process as may be needed from time to time.


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