GOP leaders have made some changes to Minnesota House committees. The Judiciary Policy and Finance Committee will become a budget division that reports to the Public Safety and Crime Prevention Policy and Finance Committee. Speaker Kurt Zellers wrote to staff that Judiciary Chair Rep. Steve Smith of Mound will no longer chair the committee due to “personal reasons.” GOP Rep. Ron Shimanski of Silver Lake will chair the new division. Smith is the longest serving Republican in the MN House.
The House GOP is also adding a new subcommittee. The Energy Subcommittee will be chaired by GOP Rep. Tom Hackbarth of Cedar. Zellers said the new subcommittee will “provide opportunity for greater input and transparency of this important legislative issue.” The new subcommittee will be added to the Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee.
The move comes just nine months after Zellers suspended Hackbarth’s role as chair of the Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee. The suspension came after St. Paul police confiscated a loaded handgun from Hackbarth after he was spotted with the weapon holstered to his hip in the parking lot of the Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Paul. (UPDATE: Hackbarth called to say that he voluntarily gave his gun to police after they requested it but it was returned to him within 24 hours). Hackbarth later resigned his position as chair.
Here’s the announcement from Zellers:
The Judiciary Policy and Finance Committee will become a division of the Public Safety and Crime Prevention Policy and Finance Committee. This revised committee structure parallels the Judiciary and Public Safety Division in the Minnesota Senate, allowing for a more efficient and streamlined process. Due to personal reasons, Representative Steve Smith will no longer serve as chair of Judiciary Policy and Finance. Representative Ron Shimanski, current vice chair of the Judiciary Policy and Finance, will serve as the Division Chair.
An Energy Subcommittee will be added to the Environment, Energy and Natural Resources (EENR) Policy and Finance Committee. This new subcommittee will provide opportunity for greater input and transparency on this important legislative issue. The Energy Subcommittee will be chaired by Representative Tom Hackbarth. Subcommittee members include: Representatives Torkelson, Quam, Beard, McNamara, Knuth, Falk and Hilty.