Legislature convenes for 2001-02 session

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 4, 2001

The first day on the job was an eye-opening experience for freshman Sen.

Thursday, January 04, 2001

The first day on the job was an eye-opening experience for freshman Sen. Grace Schwab (R-Albert Lea).

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Schwab felt a sense of awe as she took the oath for her first term as senator for District 27. But it didn’t take long for partisan challenges to surface. Sen. Dan Stevens (R-Mora), Schwab’s new deskmate on the Senate floor, used the term "political payoffs" when describing the DFL leadership’s committee assignments.

"I probably went in to the chambers pretty naive," said Schwab, who expected an amicable first day. "My eyes were wide open the whole time."

Schwab was joined for the beginning of her first term by her husband and children, along with her parents, who flew in from Florida. She was one of four new Republican senators, all of whom are women.

More ceremony was on the agenda for today. After a meeting at the Minnesota Science Museum in the morning, the entire Legislature will listen as Gov. Jesse Ventura delivers his State of the State address.

Schwab signed on to her first bill Wednesday. Sponsored by Claire Robling (R-Prior Lake), the bill would place tighter restrictions on who can drive school buses.

Schwab said she also plans to support measures that would help Greater Minnesota such as transportation funding, education funding and redrawing of political districts.

"There are a lot of disparities between the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota," Schwab said. "Some of the funding formulas are biased toward Minneapolis and St. Paul."

Taxation issues also are very important to Albert Lea and Austin, Schwab said.

"We have a situation in the district where people can go a few miles across the border and save money because of our high taxes," Schwab said. "Some tax reform could help that situation. We’ve had eight consecutive years of surpluses, and we need to address that trend of overtaxation."