Senate Republicans put emphasis on health care in new committee structure

Just two weeks after winning the Senate majority, Republicans announced a restructuring of Senate committees and revealed committee chairmanships for the 2017-18 biennium. The new, flat committee structure will eliminate the need for subcommittees and empower every committee chair to improve the way state government functions within their subject areas. The streamlined structure will also allow the Senate to function with fewer committees than the previous biennium.

Republicans shaped the new committee structure to sharpen the Senate’s focus on key issue areas:

  • The Health and Human Services Finance and Policy Committee chaired by Sen. Michelle Benson (Ham Lake) will be joined by the new Human Services Reform Finance and Policy Committee chaired by Sen. Jim Abeler (Anoka) and the Long-Term Care and Aging Policy Committee chaired by Sen. Karin Housley (Stillwater). The three committees will work in tandem to lay the foundation for the future of healthcare and health insurance in Minnesota, while also rooting out savings in state programs to bend down the cost curve on the state’s fastest growing expenditures.
  • The newly-created Jobs and Economic Growth Finance and Policy Committee chaired by Sen. Jeremy Miller (Winona) will focus solely on increasing employment opportunities for Minnesotans and improving the state’s economy.
  • The Agriculture, Rural Development, and Housing Finance and Policy Committees chaired by Sen. Torrey Westrom (Elbow Lake) and Sen. Bill Weber (Luverne), respectively, will be fully dedicated to rural Minnesota issues after removing Jobs from their purview.
  • The Judiciary and Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee chaired by Sen. Warren Limmer (Maple Grove) will streamline the path for public safety initiatives that were previously heard alongside transportation issues.

“We’re going to hit the ground running,” said Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (Nisswa). “Our chairs are experienced subject matter experts and will work well with all Senators, House members, and the Governor. Many have already served as chairs of committees in 2011-12. No doubt, there is a lot of work to do, but we are ready to lead.”