Key Minnesota legislator on tax issues to resign

Published 10:20 am Tuesday, November 17, 2015

ST. PAUL (AP) — A power player at Minnesota’s Capitol announced Monday she’ll resign her House seat soon to take a job at a lobbying firm, where she’ll keep a focus on tax and local government policy.

Democratic Rep. Ann Lenczewski of Bloomington said she will leave the Legislature next month and join Lockridge Grindal Nauen P.L.L.P. Her decision will result in a special election for a suburban seat she has held and handily won since 1999, but in a district that could be competitive in a low-turnout race.

When Democrats held the majority, Lenczewski was the chairwoman of the House Tax Committee and has been the lead House Democrat on that panel for many more years.

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In an interview, the 55-year-old Lenczewski said she’s ready for a new career challenge now that the youngest of her four children is off to college. Before coming to the Legislature, she served on the Bloomington city council and was a member of the city’s chamber of commerce board.

Minnesota has no cooling off period for lawmakers before they enter lobbying, and there are several ex-legislators working to sway their former colleagues. Lenczewski defended her quick transition.

“When you are no longer a legislator, you have the right to work wherever you want to,” she told The Associated Press.

One of the firm’s partners, Ted Grindal, hailed the hire.

“Ann has earned a reputation as a smart, deeply knowledgeable, and effective leader in her many roles in state and local government, and she will certainly be a tremendous asset to our clients,” Grindal said.

House Minority Leader Paul Thissen said her departure “leaves a huge hole in the Legislature.”

“There is no one at the Capitol — indeed, few in the entire state — who knew and cared as much about taxes. She leaves behind a fairer, structurally sound tax system for all Minnesotans,” Thissen said.

House Tax Chairman Greg Davids, R-Preston, said he’ll miss having his sometimes adversary, sometimes ally around.

“She has forgotten more about taxes than I will ever know,” Davids said. “On both sides of the aisle she had earned something that everyone strives for in the Legislature — and that’s respect.”