New job leads State Rep. Gottwalt to abruptly quit

  • Article by: JENNIFER BROOKS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 3, 2013 - 9:32 PM

He will leave within the month, citing demands tracking state health policies.

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Rep. Steve Gottwalt

Photo: David Joles, Star Tribune

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State Rep. Steve Gottwalt says he will resign his House seat before the end of the month, citing the demands of his new job.

The St. Cloud Republican won reelection just two months ago and is the second legislator to resign since the election. Gottwalt, who was hired in December to be director of state legislative policy for the Center for Diagnostic Imaging, announced his plans in a letter to colleagues on Thursday evening.

The new job, Gottwalt wrote, "quite simply is more than a full time job, and one that will not allow me the time I need to represent the people of District 14A as their State Representative."

The Star Tribune learned of Gottwalt's new job through Linked In, the social-networking service. When questioned, House Republican caucus spokeswoman Susan Closmore said that Gottwalt intended to keep both jobs and that there would be no conflict of interest so long as he did not lobby the Legislature.

When asked about the extent of Gottwalt's duties, Elisabeth Quam, executive director of CDI Quality Institute and the company's Minnesota lobbyist, said Gottwalt was expected to work full-time, even when the Legislature was in session.

By day's end, Gottwalt had issued a statement saying he would resign his legislative seat.

The Center for Diagnostic Imaging (CDI), based in St. Louis Park, has branches in 27 states. Gottwalt's new job involves tracking health-care policy in 26 legislatures other than Minnesota's.

"As I've settled in at CDI, I see the states are once again the laboratory of democracy, and each is finding its own approach to implementing the new federal health care law," Gottwalt's letter said. "It's a huge set of changes, and it makes this position one to which I must fully commit as much time and focus as possible."

Gottwalt, who served as chairman of the House Human Services Reform Committee last session, would have been part of the legislature's debate on its own sweeping health care reforms, including the new health insurance exchanges.

"Because he's got such a knowledge base, he's just a great hire for us," Quam said. "What he's going to do is direct how we respond to policy initiatives. ... He'll be telling us [when states pass health care laws] what kind of regulations they have to comply with, what measures they should report on as they relate to what's been mandated."

State Rep. Terry Morrow, DFL-St. Peter, earlier announced he will give up his seat to take a job in Chicago. Elections for both districts will be scheduled after the men leave office.

Jennifer Brooks • 651-925-5049

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