614margaret anderson kelliher
By Janet Kubat Willette
ST. PAUL — The halls of the State Office Building were quiet, save for a cleaning crew.
Gone were the hoards of visiting schoolchildren and activists, busy lobbyists and lawmakers dashing from meeting-to-meeting of only a month before.
Only staff and a few lawmakers remained behind.
Rep. Margaret Anderson Kelliher, Speaker of the House, was one of those.
Kelliher said her first session as Speaker brought both disappointments and successes.
"Overall, it went pretty well," Kelliher said. "We did good work," particularly in the agriculture area.
Rep. Al Juhnke, DFL-Willmar, agreed, saying the Speaker gave the agriculture committee a decent target and had a sympathetic ear for agricultural and rural issues. She also was a strong advocate for the dairy investment tax credit, he said.
Minnesota Farmers Union president Doug Peterson, who sat next to Kelliher on the House floor for two terms, said the Speaker brings a common sense perspective to her role.
It’s one thing to put common sense on your brochure, he said, but it’s another thing to put it into practice.
"Some days, it’s not a fun place to live and work," he said. Legislators have to have strong character, a vision and be able to take criticism.
Kelliher said her upbringing on a Blue Earth County dairy farm with five older siblings, including four older brothers, prepared her well for her legislative career.
Ending the legislative session on time was a highlight for Kelliher. It was the first time in eight years that the Legislature was able to end on time during a budget session, she said.
Her greatest disappointment was the governor’s veto of the tax bill. The bill would have helped hold down property taxes and provided $500,000 for dairy investment grants, among a number of things that would have benefited rural Minnesota, she said.