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For Ortman: Another delicate balancing act

Posted by: Mike Kaszuba under Funding, Minnesota legislature, Minnesota state senators, Democrats, Republicans, State budgets Updated: January 4, 2011 - 6:13 PM

By Mike Kaszuba

On the Minnesota Senate’s first day of the new year, incoming Senate Taxes Committee Chair Julianne Ortman explained Tuesday how she will do that job while also working for the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office.
After Ortman, a Republican from Chanhassen, was selected to chair the Senate Taxes Committee after the November elections, a spokesperson for Sheriff Rich Stanek said Ortman served as a senior administrative manager for the department, and in 2009 earned $87,452.
Four years ago, Ortman defended her dual roles as a state senator and administrator for the sheriff’s office. But a review of county payroll records and Senate documents at the time showed that Ortman often bounced between her two jobs, at times starting one job just minutes after officially punching out from the other.
Many of her county payroll records at the time showed her working long hours, evenings and weekends on days when the Senate was in session. On one day in April 2007, records showed Ortman worked a 15-hour day for Hennepin County and missed a Senate floor session but still received her $96 daily expense allowance from the Senate.
“I’m on leave from Hennepin County,” Ortman explained Tuesday, as she assumes one of the most high-profile jobs at the State Capitol. “So, I’m working reduced hours and have all the leave I need to serve in the Senate.” She said her reduced hours at Hennepin County “means I’ll take use of vacation and special leave without pay, and I’ll have greatly reduced hours.”
How many reduced hours? “We’re working through all that,” she said.
Michael Brodkorb, a spokesman for the Senate Republican caucus, said Tuesday that Ortman’s predicament was similar to what many other citizen legislators face – including DFLers. “It is a citizen Legislature,” he said.
“There were examples of Democrats, [when they were] in the majority party, that had comparable – that had day jobs with counties and cities and others,” he said.
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