2011 Legislature begins with Republicans taking over

Led by a large freshman class Republicans took control of the Minnesota House and Senate for the first time in decades.  The Senate also made history by electing the first women to the top spots with Majority Leader Amy Koch and Senate President Michelle Fischbach.

Koch said “The past 38 years in the minority has taught us how to treat members of the minority party.  We’ll be fair, open and honest.”  Former GOP gubernatorial candidate and lawmaker Cal Ludeman became the Senate President.  Democrats said they were concerned with the choice, Sen. Scott Dibble (DFL-Minneapolis) said “Mr. Ludeman is very clearly a partisan choice to fill what should remain a non-partisan position.”

The House has so many new members that a map greeted them at the door directing the dozens of freshmen to their seats.  Rep. Bob Barrett (R-Shafer) acknowledged “there’s a lot of new energy” and he says Republicans expect to follow through on their campaign promise of no new taxes.  Many freshmen cited their goal to make “government live within its means.”

The chamber was buzzing with family members cramming into seats and kids eating snacks.  House Speaker Kurt Zellers pushed back tears as he thanked his wife for her support as they suffered the loss of their first child.  He told the chamber in regard to the economic challenge before them “This is going to a difficult recovery.”  Lawmakers later waited in a long line outside the governor’s office for a reception with Gov. Mark Dayton.

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