State Rep. Diane Loeffler of Minneapolis has died after a battle with cancer at age 66, House Speaker Melissa Hortman said Saturday.

Loeffler, a DFLer first elected to the House in 2004, was a lifelong resident of Northeast Minneapolis.

“She was just a powerhouse. It’s a huge loss for the Legislature,” Hortman said.

The two entered the House the same year.

Hortman said Loeffler chose to specialize in human services to watch out for those most in need. 

“She dedicated her House service to helping the most vulnerable,” Hortman said.

According to Loeffler's website, she was inspired by her aunt Lil, who was born with Down syndrome.

"Lil’s life taught Diane the power of government policies to open doors of opportunity and ignited her passion to use public policy as a way of improving people’s lives," the website states.

Hortman said Loeffler was a bright light in the House, always bringing tulips in for members at the start of spring.

Rep. Nick Zerwas, R-Elk River, called her “truly a force” on human services issues with “an amazing depth of knowledge.”

“Her in-depth knowledge of specific implementations of health care policy was always impressive. You could just tell she poured her whole heart and soul into her work,” he said.

Loeffler was a health care policy analyst for Hennepin County, and was serving her eighth term in the House.

Loeffler was chairperson of the Property and Local Tax Division Committee, and also served on the Health and Human Services Policy Committee among other assignments.

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