Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Session underway, Committees named

Yesterday at the Capitol

2009 Legislative Session Convenes

The 86th Legislative Session got underway yesterday. In the House, Rep. Margaret Anderson Kelliher, DFL-Minneapolis, was again elected Speaker of the House. She defeated House Minority Leader Marty Seifert, R-Marshall, on a partisan vote of 86-42. The House did pass its temporary rules. Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Delano, unsuccessfully proposed an amendment to the rules which would have reduced the per diem and housing allowances for members to 2005-2006 levels. House Majority Leader Tony Sertich, DFL-Chisolm, assured lawmakers that the topic would be discussed in committee. Sertich said, "Don’t shrink the opportunity for people to participate."

After ceremonial and roll call duties, the Senate got down to business electing Sen. James Metzen, DFL- South St. Paul, as President of the Senate. Senators also adopted a resolution naming Sen. Larry Pogemiller, DFL-Minneapolis, as Senate Majority Leader and Sen. David Senjem, R-Rochester, as Senate Minority Leader. Before adjourning, Pogemiller and Senjem addressed the body with words of encouragement and optimism related to the obstacles facing members this legislative session. "These are tough times," said Senjem. "But tough times bring out the best in people."

Both the House and Senate agreed to a joint meeting Thursday, Jan. 15 for the governor’s State of the State address which will begin at 12:00 p.m. in the House Chambers.

The House is scheduled to reconvene Monday, Jan. 12 at 1:00 p.m. The Senate is scheduled to meet Thursday, Jan. 8 at 11:00 a.m.

Senate Leaders Discuss Upcoming Session
At a press conference yesterday morning, Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller, DFL-Minneapolis and Assistant Majority Leader Tarryl Clark, DFL-St. Cloud, provided their thoughts for the upcoming session. Pogemiller said that the key is to think about the state's future and not just fix the budget deficit with quick fixes and gimicks. He said the Senate would like to focus on building off of the federal economic stimulus package with infrastructure and jobs in mind. Both Pogemiller and Clark said they will be looking at reform and reorganizing priorities. Pogemiller reiterated that he doesn't believe there is a partisan solution to this problem, and that everyone is going to have to work together to balance the budget.

Committee Assignments
Speaker Anderson Kelliher announced committee assignments, which can currently be found in the House Journal from yesterday. They should be posted online soon. I will include more detail in Friday's weekly update, but below is the committee make-up for the Higher Education Committee. The Higher Ed committee will meet Tuesdays and Thursdays at 1:00 p.m. in Room 5 of the State Office Building.

Higher Education and Workforce Development Finance and Policy
Rep. Tom Rukavina, Chair (DFL)
David Bly, Vice Chair (DFL)
Bud Nornes, Lead GOP Member
Sarah Anderson (R)
Joe Atkins (DFL)
Kathy Brynaert (DFL)
Bob Dettmer (R)
Keith Downey (R) - 1st Term member
Rob Eastlund (R)
Bob Gunther (R)
Larry Haws (DFL)
Tim Mahoney (DFL)
Carol McFarlane (R)
Mary Murphy (DFL)
Kim Norton (DFL)
Mike Obermueller (DFL) - 1st Term member
Jeanne Poppe (DFL)
Roger Reinert (DFL) - 1st Term member
Linda Slocum (DFL)
Andy Welti (DFL)
Lyndon Carlson, ex officio
Loren Solberg, ex officio

At the Capitol:
Legislative schedules are available for the House and Senate.

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