Women to play prominent role in Minnesota legislatureMinnesota News
-- A statue on the Minnesota Capitol features two women leading the state to prosperity, and 105 years after it was installed two women lead the Senate for the first time.
By: Don Davis and Andrew Tellijohn, Pierce County Herald
ST. PAUL -- A statue on the Minnesota Capitol features two women leading the state to prosperity, and 105 years after it was installed two women lead the Senate for the first time.
Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, R-Buffalo, talked about the statue, known as the Quadriga, after assuming her job as top senator with Sen. Michele Fischbach, R-Paynesville, presiding over the Senate as president. Both are the first women to hold those jobs in Minnesota history.
Fischbach downplayed the historical significance of two women holding the key Senate positions, saying she hopes being a woman does not make a difference.
The sixth-term senator admitted to emotion as she took the presidential reigns, a job composed of running Senate sessions.
"There is no crying in politics," she said, "but this nearly brought me to tears."
Koch did make one change, approved by fellow senators, related to women. A rule had required them to be addressed "sir (or madam)." The change made it "madam (or sir)."
A woman remains second in commander in the governor's office, and Lt. Gov. Yvonne Prettner Solon's first official task may have been one of her hardest.
She had to return to the Senate, where she served since 2002, and convene the body until a new president could be elected and take control.
"It is really emotional," the Duluth woman said as she prepared to ascend the raised podium: Later, she called it "quite an experience."
One thing that bothered Prettner Solon was seeing someone else in the seat she occupied in the back of the Senate chambers.
"It seems to ironic that I would be standing here," Prettner Solon told senators, because as a senator herself she never wanted to preside but she was required to, even if for only a brief time, once she became lieutenant governor on Monday.
She told the senators that every one of them is there because of a vote by the people. "Tremendous hope has been placed in you -- and in us."
Over in the House, the chamber overflowed Tuesday with family and friends of lawmakers, especially those newly elected, invited to join their loved ones as they were sworn in.
After more than an hour of pomp and circumstance, however, many visiting children started getting restless.
Late in session, when newly installed Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, asked if there were any more announcements, one young one shouted "No!" drawing laughter from the chambers.
And on the off chance that Zellers' election to the House Speaker position was more contested than expected, 2-year-old Winifred Swedzinski, daughter of Rep. Chris Swedzinski, R-Ghent, added her voice vote on Zellers' behalf, as well. After the House adjourned, Swedzinski laughed and said he approved of his daughter's choice.