Tuesday, January 06, 2009

A Bump or Two out of the Starting Gate. It didn't take that long. The first Senate session of the year was marked by prolonged debate over a topic that no one--at least most long-time legislative watchers--thought would produce spirited discussion.

The discussion centered around the replacement of recently-retired Secretary of the Senate Pat Flahaven (pictured at right). Flahaven has been Secretary of the Senate since 1973, when the DFL took control of the State Senate for the first time in the 20th century. To replace Flahaven, Senate leadership decided to split the Secretary of the Senate's duties between two existing employees: lead Senate Counsel Peter Wattson and Director of Senate Counsel and Research Joanne Zoff Sellner. I suppose arguments can be raised why taking the considerable--and important--duties of the Secretary of the Senate and splitting them between existing employees doesn't make a lot of sense, as the individuals tapped to fulfill these duties are already fairly busy, but it hardly seems to warrant the reaction voiced by the Republicans today.

In a side note, I would like to personally thank Pat Flahaven for his selfless service to the state these many years. I was very fortunate to have Pat as a mentor early in my legislative career and he taught me a ton about the legislative process and parliamentary procedure. I was blessed to work closely with Pat for several years and I still reap the rewards from the knowledge Pat imparted to me during that experience.
Hooray for my Hometown. Congratulations to the Cannon Falls High School "We the People" team for their first place finish in this year's competition. They now advance to the national competition in April.
For those of you not familiar with "We the People," it is an annual scholastic competition sponsored by the US Department of Education in which student teams are tested on their constitutional knowledge and their ability to apply constitutional principles to the a set of questions.
I had an opportunity to judge the state competition years ago and all the teams I saw were very impressive. Even those who were less elegant in their use of the language showed a vigor and commitment to understanding the US Constitution thoroughly.
Here is the article from the Cannon Falls Beacon reporting on the CFHS team's successful state tournament appearance.
Senate Committee Information. As promised, here is a bit of the committee information I promised you yesterday. The House, while naming its committee membership today, does not have its information posted on-line as of this evening.
Here is the roster for the Senate E-12 Education Funding/Policy Division: http://www.senate.leg.state.mn.us/committees/committee_bio.php?cmte_id=2008&ls=86
While I am at it, I will post the membership of the Senate Transportation Funding/Policy Division. As I reported yesterday, this committee will be hearing the proposed Type III driver qualification revisions authored by Senator Rick Olseen (DFL-Harris) next Tuesday. I am sure that many of you have concerns regarding the changes made last session and how these changes were interpreted by the Department of Public Safety and it is important that the Senate committee hear from school personnel on why Senator Olseen's bill needs to be passed.

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