Partisan Politics at the State Senate

by Carson Gorecki

On Monday, the Minnesota State Senate voted down Governor Dayton’s appointment of Ellen Anderson to Chair the Public Utilities Commission (PUC). The vote, conducted along party lines, effectively fires Anderson from the position. This is the first rejection of an appointee to the Commission in Minnesota’s history. Republicans expressed concerns that Anderson was too extreme in her ideology.

This assertion, when closely examined, is misguided at best. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission is bipartisan, three Republicans and two Democrats, and all but Anderson were appointed by former Governor Pawlenty. While chair of the commission for the past 8 months, Anderson voted with a unanimous majority 95% of the time. Only 6 times out of 221 votes did she vote in the minority. She brought years of expertise from her long tenure as a State Senator and chair of the Senate Energy Committee, where she led the move toward clean, renewable energy — receiving broad bipartisan support along the way.

She authored seven major energy bills, all of which passed and were signed into law by Governor Tim Pawlenty. Of note were the 2007 Renewable Energy Standard and the Next Generation Energy Act. These bills and others helped bring Minnesota to the forefront of our nation’s transition to a clean and renewable energy economy. It is disappointing to lose such experience and dedication on this important regulatory body.

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