The intense Red Wing DFLer, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, led the charge on his party's two most dramatic offensives.

In the session's early days, Murphy pushed a long sought $6.6 billion transportation funding bill, including an increase in the state gasoline tax and a metro sales tax for transit. When the House joined the Senate in overriding the governor's veto of the measure, Murphy had triumphed on an issue he has championed with relentless passion and often visible frustration through most of his five terms in office.

Murphy also was the driving force behind the Senate's ouster of Transportation Commissioner Carol Molnau, whom Murphy faulted for poor management and insufficient advocacy for highway dollars.

His results were mixed with safety features in a transportation policy bill. New restrictions for teen drivers went through, but tightening enforcement of the seat belt law and requiring booster seats for older children were beaten back by lawmakers who thought the rules heavy-handed.


Whether declaring "The War of 1812" as debate began on a budget bill with that file number, or pleading with DFLers to be pilots of the continent-bridging Spirit of St. Louis rather than the ill-fated Hindenberg, the Marshall Republican has enjoyed a metaphoric rise to a position of surprising influence, given the small House minority caucus he leads.

Seifert suffered an early-session defeat when six of his members defected to help override the governor on the tax-raising transportation bill. He responded by cracking the whip, stripping the unfaithful of their committee leadership roles, and got his troops back in line.

He cooperated with Pawlenty to make lack of bipartisan support a key criterion for vetoing bills and urged the governor's line-item veto of the Central Corridor light-rail line, a crucial bargaining chip in the end.


The plain-spoken Bloomington DFLer and House tax chairwoman pushed a bold property tax reform proposal based on ability to pay. It didn't become law but gave advocates of progressive taxation something to fight for and bargain with.

Her real influence came largely behind the scenes, through her fierce resistance to a plan to subsidize the Mall of America by tapping the tax-sharing fiscal disparities pool. It morphed into a package of Bloomington citywide taxes that Lenczewski pronounced better but which she still opposed.

In the end, the plan that cleared the Legislature would impose a good part of the taxes at the mall itself.