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Senate leader picks leadership team

ST. PAUL -- Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem has filled out his leadership team with two committee chairmen.

The Rochester Republican Tuesday appointed Sen. Julianne Ortman of Chanhassen as deputy leader and Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen of Alexandria as the fifth assistant majority leader

Ingebrigtsen had considered running for majority leader last week to keep rural issues at the forefront. But he was not nominated.

Senjem and Sen. David Hann of Eden Prairie were the two senators in the running to replace Sen. Amy Koch of Buffalo, who resigned last month after being confronted with allegations that she had an improper relationship with a Senate employee. She resigned from her leadership position, but kept her Senate seat, and later admitted the allegations were true.

Even before the public announcement of the new leaders, all but Ortman met with Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton on Tuesday. Reporters and the public were not told about the meeting in advance.

A governor's spokeswoman said the governor wants weekly meetings with legislative leaders. Last year, he met one week with GOP leaders and the next week with Democrats.

Senjem was elected in a closed 11-hour meeting a week ago. He was minority leader four years before Koch took over last year after Republicans gained control of the Senate for the first time in 38 years.

"Sens. Ortman and Ingebrigtsen are both experienced and vital members of our Senate Republican team, and have my utmost confidence going into this short but important session," Senjem said.

The legislative session begins Jan. 24, with leaders hoping to adjourn April 30.

Ingebrigtsen, elected in 2006, is chairman of the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee.

"Our caucus remains committed to our goals of improving the business climate, making government work better and putting more Minnesotans back to work," Ingebrigtsen said. "I'm confident that the new leadership team, along with the entire Senate Republican caucus, can accomplish these goals and more as we move forward in the New Year."

Ortman, elected in 2002, is chairwoman of the Senate Taxes Committee.

"I am one of 36 members who will work closely with Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem to focus our energy on the important issues facing Minnesota," she said. "Controlling runaway spending, promoting government reforms and improving our economic climate will remain our priorities."

Koch's entire leadership team resigned before last week's private caucus meeting. Republican senators elected four assistant leaders then, leaving the remaining two for Senjem to pick.

Sens. Roger Chamberlain of Lino Lakes, Paul Gazelka of Brainerd, Ted Lillie of Lake Elmo and Claire Robling of Jordan were elected assistant leaders last week.

Davis works for Forum Communications Co., which owns the Daily Globe.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.