MN House and Senate Choose Leadership
With the 2018 election still visible in their rearview mirrors, the newly elected and reelected Minnesota House and Senate caucuses chose their leadership positions Thursday and today for the upcoming 2019-2020 biennial session. It is typical for the members to chose these positions immediately following the election in order to allow for much larger planning of committee assignments, policy priorities, staff, and expenses, all of which will come in the next few weeks.
In the House, the newly-elected DFL Majority chose Rep. Melissa Hortman (Brooklyn Park) as the Speaker-Designate of the House (she won't officially take the gavel until elected by the full House in January). The Speaker presides over the House and has all the powers and duties of the presiding officer. Hortman is the current Minority Leader in the House and was first elected in 2004. Also elected yesterday was Rep-elect Ryan Winkler as House Majority Leader. Rep. Winkler (Golden Valley) returns to the Legislature after serving in the House from 2007 - 2015. Rep. Liz Olson (Duluth) was also elected yesterday as Majority Whip. The GOP, which returns to the minority in the House in 2019, selected Rep. Kurt Daudt, the current Speaker of the House, as Minority Leader.
The GOP Senate majority also elected their leadership yesterday, choosing Senator Paul Gazekla (Nisswa) as Senate Majority Leader. Only one state senate race was on the ballot yesterday (SD 13), but it determined the balance of power in the Senate. Majority Leader Gazelka was first elected Majority Leader in 2016. The Senate also selected a new President in Sen. Jeremy Miller (Winona). Senator Michelle Benson (Ham Lake) will serve as Deputy Majority Leader and there will be five Assistant Majority Leaders: Senators Gary Dahms (Red Wood Falls), Karin Housley (St. Mary's Point), John Jasinski (Faribault), Warren Limmer (Maple Grove) & Eric Pratt (Prior Lake).
For the democrats, the Senate DFL members made no changes to their leadership structure, reelecting Sen. Tom Bakk (Cook) as Minority Leader.
The DFL gained control of the House after Tuesday’s election, flipping 18 seats to gain a 75-59 majority over House Republicans. One race in 5B (Beltrami County) is still unresolved and subject to a recount.