New Senate rule forces Pogemiller to leave K-12 education committee

by Erin Ghere

East Bank state Sen. Larry Pogemiller has had a big week.
Last Tuesday, he was re-elected to his sixth term. And Monday, he changed jobs.
Pogemiller, 49, had served as the Senate’s K-12 education committee chairman, but shifted to the Senate’s taxes committee for at least the next two legislative sessions.
Under a new Senate rule, eight senior committee heads were forced to rotate positions.
The rule requires a rotation every eight years, said outgoing taxes committee chairman Sen. Doug Johnson, DFL-Tower.
Johnson, who will now head the Senate finance committee, chaired the taxes committee for 20 years.
“Sen. Pogemiller is a longtime personal and professional friend of mine,” Johnson said, adding Pogemiller has a good grasp of the tax, education and finance issues facing Minnesota and will do well as tax committee chair.
Pogemiller easily won re-election against Republican Kristin Meyer with more than 70 percent of the vote on Election Day.
Calling himself a “local Minneapolis kid,” Pogemiller grew up in the area he now lives and represents, and earned a degree in transportation engineering from the University in 1974.
At 22, he was first elected to the state House in 1982.
“I had never run for anything in my life,” he said in a previous interview.
Two years later, after redistricting, he ran for the state Senate and has represented the East Bank there ever since. In the K-12 education committee, Pogemiller said, he tried to develop high state educational standards with individual student focus.
And, as head of the taxes committee, he could easily butt heads with the Republican-led House committee.
Republicans want tax cuts and rebates, while Pogemiller said in an interview last month that he would favor investing any future tax surplus into higher education, health care, transportation and affordable housing.
In addition, he authored legislation several years ago to raise income taxes on upper incomes to reduce class sizes and provide school property tax levy relief, but it was vetoed by former Minnesota Gov. Arne Carlson.
But for a tax bill to become law, the House and Senate committees have to agree on a version that suits both — and the tax bill is always one that goes down to the wire because the committee members cannot agree.
The 2001 legislative session begins in January.

Erin Ghere welcomes comments at [email protected]