JoAnne Zoff, director of the Minnesota Senate’s counsel and research office, is lauded for offering even-handed advice in a profile published in Finance and Commerce
“She is a prime example of somebody who is a nonpartisan Senate employee that does a remarkable job maintaining confidentiality. That builds a level of trust. People can bounce ideas off of her,” said Sen. Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, chair of the Senate Taxes Committee.
She’s worked for the Senate since 1977 and in addition to her director duties, Zoff recently acquired the title of secretary of the Senate, after longtime secretary Pat Flahaven retired. Zoff shares the secretary’s duties with her Senate counsel colleague Peter Wattson.
Zoff oversees an office with 37 full-time staff members. Throughout the 2009 legislative session, their work has been dominated by the needs of lawmakers in crafting solutions to the state’s $4.6 billion budget deficit.
And the federal stimulus package has complicated this session. Over the past several months, Zoff’s staff has been trying to figure out how much money the state will receive and whether lawmakers need to change state laws in order to spend the federal money.
When the session ends, she’ll have more time for her hobbies of photography and gardening. Those two pastimes are evident in the pictures of flowers that adorn her state Capitol office.