Rep. John Ward, DFL-Baxter, has been elected assistant majority leader in the new DFL majority. He also will serve as vice chair of the Capital Investment Committee.
The retired teacher was one of seven assistant majority leaders elected last weekend. He said that a DFL majority whip will be selected, possibly Wednesday, Dec. 19, from that group.
As an assistant majority leader Ward said he’ll be involved in leadership meetings and discussions, will help determine the agenda of the caucus and will communicate with caucus members and solicit feedback. He described the position as a conduit for communication. Other duties he mentioned include mentoring first-year legislators and fundraising for the caucus.
This legislative session will include DFL majorities in the Senate and House as well as a Democratic governor.
“I believe our House caucus is going to govern in a balanced approach, in a smart approach, in an approach that includes a long-term, progressive, balanced message,” he said. “We’re going to have to look at (legislative) investments that give a great return...like education, all forms of education, property tax relief. We’re going to have to say no to those that don’t give us a higher return on our dollars.
Ward said in a statement that lawmakers should balance the budget honestly with no more gimmicks. He will be a member of the Jobs and Economic Development Policy and Finance, Legacy, Public Safety Finance and Policy and Rules and Legislative Administration committees.
His new responsibilities mean that he will not serve on the Education Committee, where he has served for the last six years. However, he said he would continue to advocate for solid education funding and for early childhood and higher education.
“You can’t be on all the committees,” he said.
He said he has a good relationship with Rep. Alice Hausman, DFL-St. Paul, who will chair the Capital Investments Committee (often referred to as the bonding committee). He called for a robust bonding bill to address infrastructure needs.
“I am very honored and proud of my work with Chair Hausman,” he said.
The majority whip position, Ward said, is in charge of vote counts and procedural motions and helps the majority leader. That person is also the supervisor of the assistant majority leaders.
DFL House leaders asked Ward to take charge of assigning new offices to DFL lawmakers. He said that while the task often takes four weeks, he accomplished it in four days, in part because of his high energy level in anticipation of the new session.
“I’m more excited than I’ve ever been,” he said. “I’m more enthused than I’ve ever been.”
The legislative session starts Jan. 8.