Minnesota’s 2020 legislative session has been an unusual one, to say the least. But even in the midst of a pandemic that has upended life as we know it, one feature of adjournment is expected to be a constant: Retirement speeches.
Members of both chambers will gather Monday, albeit some remotely, to wrap up business and bid adieu to departing colleagues. That could take a while.
Eighteen legislators — 14 members of the House and four senators — have already announced that they won’t run again this year. Another, Rep. Mary Kunesh-Podein, DFL-New Brighton, is seeking a Senate seat.
The list of departing lawmakers includes the Legislature’s longest-serving member: Rep. Lyndon Carlson, DFL-Crystal, who was first elected in 1972. Also retiring are Rep. Jean Wagenius, DFL-Minneapolis, who joined in 1987, and Sen. Dick Cohen, DFL-St. Paul, with four decades of service.
It’s not just seniority going out the door. The departures will leave at least a dozen committee leadership posts vacant, setting the stage for high-stakes musical chairs in January.
More members could still call it quits before Election Day. The filing period opens Tuesday and doesn’t end until June 2. But with a special legislative session coming next month, late-deciding members may have time for a floor farewell as well.
Influential young voters
Minnesota cracked the Top 10 in a new ranking of states where young voters are expected to have the most influence on the outcome of the presidential election.
The Youth Electoral Significant Index, compiled by researchers at a Tufts University center known as CIRCLE, cites traditionally high turnout rates among young voters in the state and the potential for a close race as forces behind Minnesota’s No. 9 ranking. Voting laws and population trends also played a role.
“The demographic makeup of Minnesota (with high rates of married residents, strong educational attainment, and relatively low poverty levels) is conducive to higher turnout potential,” researchers found.
Klobuchar hits virtual trail
The veepstakes buzz continues to swirl around U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar. A recent CNN article reports the Minnesota Democrat is “widely seen” as one of the top two contenders to join presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden on the ticket. U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., is the other.
While allies are pushing Klobuchar’s ability to help Biden win Midwest battleground states, reports of harsh treatment of staff remain a potential liability in the vetting process now underway, CNN reports. The senator acknowledged last year that she can be “tough” on aides but pledged to “do better” moving forward.
Klobuchar, meanwhile, continues to do public outreach for the (now virtual) Biden campaign. On Saturday, she hosted an online “letter-to -the-editor writing and organizing workshop” for Colorado educators. Klobuchar made several visits to the potential battleground state during her own presidential bid.