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January 8, 2019

The 2019 Legislative Session Starts Today!

The 91st Minnesota Legislature will convene at noon today, January 8, 2019. The new legislature will be the only divided government in the nation with Republicans controlling the State Senate and Democrats taking control of the House following the 2018 election. 

The 2018 election has also brought change to the executive branch. Mark Dayton’s departure from the Governor’s office means Minnesota has a new Governor for the first time since 2010. Former Congressman Tim Walz and former State House Representative Peggy Flanagan were sworn in yesterday to serve as Minnesota’s 41st Governor and the 50th Lieutenant Governor respectively. 

Despite the divided government, leadership in all branches have already started meeting and have expressed a shared optimism that they can find common ground to pass a biennial budget and a tax bill that conforms to federal policy. Lawmakers will be working with an estimated $1.54 billion budget surplus that may ease negotiations as Govenor Tim Walz assembles his first-ever, two-year budget proposal estimated to be close to $48 billion. The Governor is required to deliver a budget proposal to the legislature in February. 

Legislative Leadership and Committee Structure


State Representative Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park) was selected by her caucus to be the next Speaker of the Minnesota House of Representatives and former Speaker, Representative Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) will become the Minority Leader for the House Republican caucus. 

Speaker-designate Hortman is joined in her leadership role by Majority Leader-designate Representative-elect Ryan Winkler (DFL-Golden Valley) and Majority Whip-designate Representative Liz Olson (DFL-Duluth). The new House majority and leadership means a restructuring of House committees and many new chairs who will be taking the gavel for the first time. See a full list of the new committees and committee membership here


Majority Leader, Senator Paul Gazelka (R-Nisswa) also announced several changes in his Caucus’s leadership following the departure of former Senate President, Senator Michelle Fischbach (R-Paynesville). Fischbach succeeded Tina Smith as Lieutenant Governor last year when Smith departed the post to replace Al Franken in the U.S. Senate. 

Senator Jeremy Miller (R-Winona) will be the new Senate President and Senator Eric Pratt (R-Prior Lake) will take over the chairmanship of the Senate Jobs and Economic Growth Finance and Policy Committee. Senator Paul T. Anderson (R-Plymouth) will now chair the Senate Higher Education Finance and Policy Committee.

It is expected that an additional change to committee assignments will occur after Governor Walz appointed Senator Tony Lourey (DFL-Kerrick) to be the Commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services, triggering a special election to fill his seat in the Senate. That special election has been set for February 5, 2019.

Find a full list of Senate committees and membership here

Walz Administration

Following November’s election, Governor Walz quickly appointed his Chief of Staff, attorney and former congressional aid Chris Schmitter, and his Transition Director, Kristin Beckmann, the Chief Operating Officer at the Center for Economic Inclusion and former St. Paul Deputy Mayor. Schmitter and Beckmann have assisted Governor Walz assemble his new cabinet, reviewing an estimated 500 applications for twenty-three commissioner appointments. As of today, the Administration has announced its appointees to all state agencies. See a complete list of his commissioner appointments 

The The Legislature is constitutionally required to adjourn by May 21, 2019.


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Larkin Hoffman provides counsel to a wide variety of ‎organizations, from ‎small businesses and nonprofits to  Fortune 500 companies, in ‎many areas of practice including ‎corporate and governance matters, litigation, real ‎estate, government relations, labor and employment, intellectual property, ‎information technology, ‎franchising and taxation. The firm also serves the needs of individuals in many ‎areas ‎including trusts and estates, personal injury and family law.


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