Several area lawmakers say good bye on the House floor

By T.W. Budig, ECM Capitol Reporter

A number of area lawmakers arose this morning on the House floor to speak for perhaps the last time in the chamber as state representatives.

“It’s with a heavy heart that I leave,” said Rep. Denise Dittrich, DFL-Champlin, one of the area lawmakers not seeking reelection.

Rep. Mike LeMieur, R-Little Falls, was another area lawmaker deciding not to seek reelection.

Dittrich, along with Republican representatives Mike LeMieur of Little Falls, Democrat Kate Knuth of New Brighton, and Republican Mary Kiffmeyer of Big Lake addressed fellow lawmakers in the hushed House chamber not long after the House voted to go sine die at 4:13 a.m.

With the vote, for the House, the eighty-seventh session of the Minnesota Legislature closed.

Although leaving the House, Kiffmeyer, like several other area lawmakers, is hoping to serve in the “other body” at the end of the corridor to the right.

Republican representatives Branden Petersen of Andover, Keith Downey of Edina, and Bruce Anderson of Buffalo Township are also running for the Senate.

Rep. Kurt Bills, R-Rosemount, is running for the U.S. Senate.

Rep. Mark Buesgens, R-Jordan, is not seeking reelection.

Of the group, only Dittrich, Knuth, LeMieur and Kiffmeyer spoke their farewells.

“We try to do our best,” said Knuth, her voice breaking at times with emotion as she said her good bye to the House.

Knuth, finishing her third term, stood out on the House floor through her habit of wearing some article of orange clothing.

Recently, in honor of her service and habit of dress, other lawmakers wore articles of orange clothing on the House floor.

LeMieur in his comments thanked his fellow legislators and specifically his seat mates.

LeMieur is leaving after a single term in the House.

He spoke of how veteran lawmaker Rep. Greg Davids, R-Preston, who sat to LeMieur’s left, instructed him on when to stand up, when to speak.

LeMieur recalled how when he incorrectly stood or spoke, Davids would lean over and whisper, “Shut up and sit down.”

As LeMieur spoke for the final time Thursday morning, Davids leaned over and whispered loudly to sit down.

Dittrich, too, spoke of enduring friendships she struck up in her service in the House.

In her final comments, Dittrich, who played a key role in the passage of school trust land reform legislation this session, spoke of hoping that when her colleagues in the future visited their local schools that they would look the children in the eye and tell them that they’re so special that people long ago bequeathed to them the wonderful legacy of land.