‘Aggies’ continue fight
Chairwoman Jean Wagenius, DFL-Minneapolis, said she is certain agriculture interests will get a fair shake in her House Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Finance Committee.
Republican farm-area representatives have said that they fear ag programs will be shortchanged in the new committee after years of being considered by a standalone committee.
Those lawmakers “have not come to me,” Wagenius said Thursday after her first committee meeting of the 3-day-old legislative session.
A Wagenius slip-up concerned farmers. She called the Future Farmers of America organization the “FAA,” drawing a rebuke from fellow Democrat Rep. Jeanne Poppe of Austin.
Rep. Rod Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake, protested earlier this week about including agriculture with the two other major areas of government. That protest, which even Republicans say will not succeed, is to be considered by the House Rules Committee on Monday.
As members introduced themselves Thursday, many urban lawmakers went out of their way to talk about their links to farming.
That did not satisfy rural Republicans.
“How do we build a trust?” Rep. Dan Fabian, R-Roseau, asked of Wagenius, who is a long-time strong environmentalist.
Rep. Debra Kiel, R-Crookston, said that agriculture is too big and complex to be put in with natural resources and environmental issues.
“It’s easy to take that small ag budget and sift it into other things,” she said.
While the ag budget is small, Rep. Paul Anderson, R-Starbuck, said: “It is our top priority.”
Prayer of a chance?
Rep. Mary Murphy stood at the feet of the House speaker Thursday, but sought help from an even higher source.
“Help us serve with patience and joy,” the Hermantown Democrat said during her prayer opening the third day of the 2013 Minnesota legislative session.
She also prayed that each legislator understand that “every person’s legislative needs are as important as all the others.”
A clergy person or lawmaker delivers a prayer every time the House meets, and Murphy is given the task at least once a year.
— Compiled by Danielle Killey and Don Davis, Capitol Bureau