Majority leader Peppin to leave Minnesota House

Majority leader Rep. Joyce Peppin, R-Rogers, Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015, during the House session at the State Capitol. Jennifer Simonson | MPR News

Posted 9:12 a.m. | Updated 12:09 p.m.

Minnesota House Majority Leader Joyce Peppin is ending her campaign for re-election and will resign from the Legislature to take a position with a statewide utility group.

Peppin announced the sudden shift in a news release Wednesday. She will become director of government affairs and general counsel for the Minnesota Rural Electric Association. Her last day as a lawmaker will be July 2, a spokeswoman for Peppin said.

“For me, serving in the Legislature was not meant to be a full-time career, but rather a temporary public service and I know there are many smart leaders with new ideas, goals and skills that will step forward to serve,” Peppin said.

Last week, Peppin had filed for re-election to her seat. As had become her tradition, she was first in line at the Minnesota secretary of state’s office to submit the paperwork. It would have been a campaign for an 8th term.

Peppin, 47, has been the House second-in-command since Republicans regained control in the 2014 election. In that position, she helps frame the caucus message in debate surrounding big bills and steers the floor agenda as chair of the House Rules Committee.  

House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Zimmerman, wished Peppin well in her next endeavor.

“Joyce’s leadership will be missed by our caucus and the Legislature,” Daudt said in a written statement. “She is not only a dedicated representative of her community but of the state as a whole in her role as House majority leader.”

Her Rogers-area seat in western Hennepin County is reliably Republican. In 2016, Peppin scooped up two-thirds of the vote.

During the just-concluded session, Peppin took a prominent role in crafting the House response to sexual harassment. The chamber retooled its policy for handling complaints of harassment by staff or legislators. But Peppin went even further and pressed for a change to state law that would have made it easier for people claiming workplace harassment to pursue civil court remedies; that effort stalled in the end. 

Peppin, who has a law degree and is a former House staffer, is married to a prominent Republican consultant, Gregg. The couple has two daughters.