ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Republican lawmakers Thursday elected Sen. Jeremy Miller of Winona as their new senate president.
He'll replaced Michelle Fischbach who retired in June after being sworn in as lieutenant governor. Fischbach automatically advanced to that post when Dayton appointed then-Lt. Gov. Tina Smith to the US Senate to replace Al Franken.
"It’s an incredibly important role, both presiding over the senate and the other responsibilities that come along with that," Sen. Miller told reporters. "And I’m grateful our members have put their faith in me to do that and I will reach across the aisle."
The senate president holds the gavel and presides over senate sessions, at times making crucial rulings on whether proposed amendments are germane, or whether fellow senators are violating the rules of debate.
Miller, in his third term representing District 28 in southeastern Minnesota, has been known for reaching across the aisle to gain broader support for legislation such as the pension reform and state employee contract bills.
Miller chairs the Jobs and Economic Growth Finance and Policy committee in the Senate. He's a partner in his family's scrap iron business in Winona.
The same group of Republican senators voted to keep current Majority Leader Paul Gazelka of Nisswa. He pledged cooperation with Gov.-elect Tim Walz and the new leaders of the House.
"In the Senate GOP we have two years of leadership experience," Sen. Gazelka remarked.
"The governor is new, we have a new Speaker of the House coming, we want to take that role and try and work with the other side any place we can to build bridges, to get the things done we need to get done for Minnesota."
Republicans maintain a slim one majority in the Senate, holding 34 seats to the Democrats 33 seats. But the power dynamics have definitely changed because the DFL picked up enough seats to capture control of the Minnesota House in Tuesday's election.
Senators weren't on the ballot in 2018, but the GOP prevailed in a special election to replace Fischbach. Republican Rep. Jeff Howe of Rockville defeated Stearns County Commissioner Joe Perske in a race to serve the remaining two years of Fischbach's term in the 13th District of central Minnesota.