The decision by Rep. Mary Ellen Otremba, DFL-Long Prairie, to pass rather than vote for a pro-choice DFL leader for speaker of the House was a decision of the heart.
The pro-life DFLer said Wednesday she had to stay true to her constituents, as well as to her own convictions.
"I made a commitment to vote for a pro-life leader of the House," she said referring to a Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life questionnaire. Otremba said her district is about 90 percent pro-life.
"It just also lets people know I'm serious about this issue," she said.
She said her decision was consistent with her support of pro-life House leaders in the past. Otremba, in a routine vote that elected Republican House Speaker Steve Sviggum, was the only Democrat to vote "pass" rather than vote for Rep. Matt Entenza, DFL-Minneapolis, who became the House minority leader.
Otremba said the outcome of the vote was never in question but it allowed her to make a statement on the abortion issue.
She said she informed Entenza of her decision and all he said is that he would have preferred that she had been willing to support him.
Otremba to be on agriculture panel
Rep. Mary Ellen Otremba, DFL-Long Prairie, was sworn in for a new term and named lead Democrat on the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee of the Minnesota House of Representatives as the Legislature returned to session Tuesday in St. Paul.
Otremba said the $4.5 billion hole in the state budget means many rural programs are at risk. As lead Democrat on the committee, Otremba will be the principle DFL spokesperson on legislation affecting farmers, farm policy and rural economic development.
Koering submits abortion bill
In his first bill as chief author, Sen. Paul Koering, R-Fort Ripley, submitted legislation Tuesday to ban partial birth abortions.
"This is a horrendous procedure and anyone who learns the gruesome details can't help but support a ban," Koering said.
The bill states that "no person shall knowingly perform a partial birth abortion." The one exception would be to save the life of the mother because she is endangered by physical disorder, physical illness or physical injury.
Koering's announcement said the bill would be referred to the Health and Family Security Committee, chaired by Sen. Becky Lourey, DFL-Kerrick, a pro-choice lawmaker.
Solberg named to DFL leadership position
Rep. Loren Solberg, DFL-Grand Rapids, was sworn in for a new term and appointed the lead Democrat on the budget-making Ways and Means Committee as Minnesota lawmakers returned to session Tuesday in St. Paul.
As a lead Democrat, Solberg will serve as the caucus spokesman on issues and legislation that come before the Ways and Means Committee. The committee's principle function is to develop an overall budget framework, allocating resources to the various categories of spending -- education, transportation, etc. -- before finance committees in each area make detailed decisions on funding various offices and programs.
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