DFLers in the state House this week are steering a couple prominent committees under their control through the District 16A towns of Milaca and Onamia.
On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday the district that is currently held by a DFL senator and House member by razor-thin margins will get lavished upon with legislative attention. Three separate hearings will deal with jobs, early childhood education and health care issues. That sort of interim action is rarely seen at the state Capitol, much less these small central Minnesota cities along the Rum River.
On Tuesday, Rep. Tom Rukavina, DFL-Virginia, who is a candidate for governor, will preside over the House Jobs Task Force during a day-long hearing that examines job creation issues in greater Minnesota. The Jobs Task Force, which was assembled by gubernatorial candidate and House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, DFL-Minneapolis, is holding its second meeting and the first outside the Capitol.
On Wednesday, the Early Childhood Finance and Policy Division, which is lead by Rep. Nora Slawik, DFL-Maplewood, who is not running for governor, is holding a hearing at the Milaca High School.
On Thursday, the House’s health care policy and finance committees are meeting in Onamia, north of Milaca on Highway 169, to discuss health and human services at the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. Presiding over the hearing are Reps. Tom Huntley, DFL-Duluth, and Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis. Thissen is running for governor.
DFLers in 2008 took control of the historically Republican-leaning district. Lisa Fobbe of Zimmerman won a special election to the open seat that featured a bizarre write-in initiative from former GOP Rep. Mark Olson of Big Lake in addition to the GOP-endorsed bid by Alison Krueger. Fobbe edged out Krueger by less than half a percentage point.
Gail Kulick Jackson of Milaca won her third try to unseat former GOP Rep. Sondra Erickson of Princeton in a race that was also decided by less than half a percent. Kulick Jackson is a member of both the Jobs Task Force and the Early Childhood panel.