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Paynesville Press - January 21, 2004

Dean Johnson elected majority leader in Senate

By Michael Jacobson

Senator Dean JohnsonSenator Dean E. Johnson (DFL-Willmar) was elected to lead the Senate DFL Caucus last week, making the seven-term senator the new leader of the majority caucus in the Minnesota Senate.

Sen. Dean Johnson (DFL-Willmar) was elected to lead the Senate DFL Caucus last week and will serve as the Senate majority leader in the 2004 legislative session.

Johnson represents District 13 in the Senate, including Kandiyohi and Pope counties and the western half of Stearns County. His district includes, in the Paynesville area, Irving, Lake Henry, Roseville, and Spring Hill townships.

Johnson said he will continue to focus the DFL agenda on quality education, a safer Minnesota, affordable health care, and building an atmosphere which produces good paying jobs. "It's a privilege and honor to serve the state of Minnesota in this capacity," he said. "I look forward to guiding the caucus during the upcoming session, and ensuring people in every corner of Minnesota have a voice in state government."

Johnson also praised outgoing Senate majority leader John Hottinger's dignified manner during the caucus and stated that Hottinger would continue to play an important role in the upcoming 2004 Legislative Session, which begins on Monday, Feb. 1.

Senator Ann Rest (DFL-New Hope) will retain her position as assistant majority leader.

Johnson's election to majority leader also creates a vacancy in the chair of the Transportation and Public Safety Committee, which Johnson held previously. The new chair will be named in the near future.

"While we have a lot of challenges ahead of us, the Senate DFL Caucus is united to speak out for all the citizens of Minnesota. We will take the lead and challenge the governor and the House Republicans when they're wrong," said Johnson.

In addition to leading the caucus, the majority leader's duties include directing the business of the Senate, guiding daily floor sessions, and chairing the Senate Rules and Administration Committee.

Johnson - a pastor at Calvary Lutheran Church in Willmar and the special assistant to the Chief of Chaplains, National Guard Bureau, Washington D.C., holding the rank of brigadier general - was first elected to the Minnesota House in 1978 and was re-elected in 1980. He was first elected to the Minnesota Senate in 1982 as a Republican and served as an assistant minority leader with that party before switching to the DFL Party in January 2000.

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