Commissioner has to ‘phone in’ confirmation hearing

The commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development is going to have to rely on her telephone skills during a confirmation hearing this week in a Minnesota Senate committee.

A spokeswoman for DEED says Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben is expecting twins and is on bed rest under doctor’s orders but still working full time from home.

The Senate Environment, Economic Development and Agriculture Budget Division has scheduled the hearing for Wednesday. A spokeswoman for the Senate DFL Caucus says Committee Chair Dan Sparks wanted to move forward with the confirmation hearing, so he decided to allow Sieben to participate by phone.

The spokeswoman said Sparks contacted Republicans about the accommodation and was told they were OK with it.

It’s unusual for commissioners not to attend their own confirmation hearings in person.

The Senate has to confirm all of Dayton’s commissioners now that the governor’s second term is underway. If a majority in the Senate rejects a confirmation, a commissioner has to step aside.

Sieben will be taking some time off once she delivers.

DEED spokeswoman Madeline Koch says Cathy Polasky, who recently retired as director of Economic Policy and Development for the City of Minneapolis, will run the department on an interim basis when Sieben is on maternity leave.

Update: The committee has rescheduled the confirmation hearing for another, unspecified date. The hearing was canceled “due to time constraints.”