Senate committee puts Anderson’s confirmation in doubt

The confirmation of former DFL state Senator Ellen Anderson as the new head of the Public Utilities Commission hit a snag today.

Republicans on the Senate Committee on Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications questioned Anderson for two hours, then voted 8 to 6 to send her confirmation to the full Senate without recommendation. Anderson is the first appointment of Governor Mark Dayton to run into opposition.

Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, said Anderson’s experience with energy issues has been agenda driven, with bias for and against types of energy.

“We’ll take it to the floor and let the body have a good discussion about it,” Rosen said. “But I think we clearly stated we have some major concerns, and it was good to hear some of the reasoning, but also left many other questions still in place.”

If the Senate votes not to confirm her she would lose her job. During a lengthy two-hour hearing, lawmakers repeatedly asked Anderson about her previous political positions. But Anderson insisted she will keep an open mind at the PUC.

“We have a long tradition of appointing legislators to the Public Utilities Commission,” Anderson said. “There’s lots of other people that have served as well, but there have certainly been legislation appointed a number of times. And I think whatever party they’re from and whatever their background is, they have all gone on to be able to set those views aside.”

Anderson served 19 years in the Legislature, but Republican Senator Julie Rosen of Fairmont said the committee had major concerns about her appointment.

Earlier in the day, the state Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee unanimously supported the nomination Ramona Dohman to lead the Department of Public Safety.

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