ST. PAUL — State Sen. Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, was officially sworn in as the youngest Senate president in the modern era when the Minnesota legislature reconvened for the 2019 legislative session on Tuesday.
“I am constantly overwhelmed with gratitude in this job,” Miller said in a press release. “Every day I cherish the fact that the residents of Fillmore, Houston, and Winona counties continue to trust me as their voice at the Capitol, and now I am equally grateful to my colleagues for trusting me to preside over the Senate with the respect and dignity Minnesotans deserve.”
The state’s lieutenant governor served as the Senate president from the state’s founding in 1858 until 1973, at which point the Minnesota Senate began electing its own presidents. While there were younger Lieutenant Governors to serve as Senate president, at 35 years old, Miller is the youngest state Senator in Minnesota history to serve as president. Miller, who was 26 when he won his first election, was also the second-youngest state Senator in Minnesota history.
Miller also discussed some overall early session priorities, which he says aim to address issues on the minds of hardworking Minnesotans, such as better support for individuals facing mental health issues, better access to affordable child care, cleaning up waste and fraud within state government, and bringing Minnesota’s tax code up to date with recent federal changes.
“As I have traveled the district listening to ideas and feedback from the people I represent, a few issues keep coming up over and over,” Miller said. “While there are several other important issues we will address this session, these initial priorities reflect the concerns I hear most from working Minnesotans. I look forward to working with Gov. Walz to deliver results that Minnesotans can be proud of.”
In addition to his role as Senate president, Sen. Miller will serve on the Capital Investment Committee, the Higher Education Committee, the Rules Committee, and the Taxes Committee.
Miller among the lawmakers who arrived at the House and Senate chambers, greeted by dozens of red-shirted activists from Moms Demand Action and allied groups who handed out cookies and pressed the officials for action on gun control, one of the most divisive issues in Minnesota politics.
The House was called to order around noon and the Senate convened soon afterward. The opening day was devoted mostly to formalities, including the election of Democrat Melissa Hortman as House speaker. Supreme Court Justice Paul Thissen, a former speaker, swore her in, and Secretary of State Steve Simon handed her the gavel.
“It’s time to take off the blue jerseys and the red jerseys and it’s our job to govern here together as Team Minnesota,” Hortman told the House. “That doesn’t mean we will govern without conflict. ... But if we can have that conflict with good humor and humility, we’ll be better off, and Minnesota will be better off.”
Meanwhile, new Democratic Gov. Tim Walz told reporters that he’s ready to cooperate with lawmakers from both parties. He said he found things to agree with in a five-bill package that Senate Republicans announced Tuesday, especially on mental health and child care.
And he said he was ready to find common ground with Republicans on long-term transportation funding. GOP leaders oppose raising the gas tax, which Walz has proposed, but the governor said he’ll continue to work with them. And while he supports renewing the state’s 2 percent tax on health care providers — which helps fund health care for low-income Minnesotans and expires at the end of the year — he said he’s open to alternative revenue proposals.
“Every day I cherish the fact that the residents of Fillmore, Houston, and Winona counties continue to trust me as their voice at the Capitol, and now I am equally grateful to my colleagues for trusting me to preside over the Senate with the respect and dignity Minnesotans deserve.”
State Sen. Jeremy Miller, R-Winona
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