ST. PAUL, Minn. - More women will play a larger role in shaping policy at both the Minnesota Capitol and in Washington D.C. in January as a result Tuesday's election.
In St. Paul, where Democrats regained control of both chambers of the legislature, three women will be thrust into key leadership roles.
House DFL Caucus members picked Rep. Erin Murphy of St. Paul as the new House majority leader. She'll be only the fourth female to hold that post and the first one in 20 years.
"I'm honored and delighted to be elected by my caucus colleagues, and I'm going to do this job with distinction," Rep. Murphy told KARE Friday.
Murphy, a registered nurse, teaches nursing at the College of St. Catherine when she's not busy with the Legislature or her family. She'll be second in command to the Rep. Paul Thissen of Minneapolis, who will become Speaker of the House in January.
The number of women in the House will grow from 43 to 44, out of 134 seats.
"I like to say that we're not better necessarily, but different in the way that we look at issues and try and contemplate the work that we're doing," Murphy remarked.
"I'm going to bring a clear voice to the work to represent the interest of the caucus. And I think part of that will be the voice of a woman, but really it's the voice of a Minnesotan," she added.
The state Senate added four Democratic women and lost one Republican woman, for a net gain of three female senators.
DFL senators Thursday elected Sen. Katie Sieben of Newport as their new assistant majority leader. She'll be second in command to Sen. Tom Bakk of Virginia, who was selected Majority Leader in the same caucus meeting.
The person holding the gavel, presiding over testimony and votes in 2013, will be Sen. Sandy Pappas, a veteran of 28 years in the legislature. DFL members picked her for the role of Senate President.
"After President Obama's victory, and regaining control of the legislature, for me to be elected president is just frosting on the cake," Sen. Pappas told KARE.
She conceded that after nearly three decades at the Capitol she can say with authority that female lawmakers handle some situations differently than their male counterparts.
"And I think women are viewed -- whether it's fair or not -- as being more honest, more open, more accessible, more even-handed, kind of calmer and less partisan," Pappas said.
One of the key functions of the senate president during a floor debate is to rule on whether amendments being offered are germane to the topic of the bill up for consideration.
"As President I can tell you that I'll be fair and respectful in my rulings," she said. "We have a history in the Minnesota Senate of presidents acting in a nonpartisan way."
Tuesday's election also boosted the number of female senators to three, setting a record 20 out of 100 seats. That will include four Republicans and 16 Democrats, including Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.
"Twenty percent certainly still doesn't reflect where the population is, but it's a big stride," Sen. Klobuchar, who won a second term on Tuesday, told KARE.
She said the women on Capitol Hill tend to be a pretty cordial set of senators, and they get together for a bipartisan dinner meeting once a month.
"Whatever's said in that room stays in that room, and it's Democrats and Republicans, women senators," Klobuchar explained.
"And we NEVER talk about the male senators," she added.
"I'm kidding, we do."
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