That was a quick run. After gaining control of the state House and Senate in 2010, Republicans on Tuesday night lost both chambers, leaving Minnesota with Democratic rule in the House, Senate, and Governor’s office.
Many of the names we’ve come to associate with outdoors and natural resources issues retained their seats, but we’ll have new chairs for the environment committees. The guess here is that Rep. Rick Hansen, DFL-South St. Paul, or Rep. David Dill, DFL-Crane Lake, will receive strong consideration for leading environment and natural resources spots. And Jean Wagenius, DFL-Minneapolis, too. When democrats controlled the House in the past, they had one main environment committee, and several subcommittees, of which both Hansen and Dill were chairs.
The likeliest Senate candidate to lead that chamber’s environment committee would seem to be Sen. Tom Saxhaug, DFL-Grand Rapids. But Kent Eken, DFL-Twin Valley, was victorious and his race and – as a former chair of the House environment committee – could receive consideration.
It’s hard to say at this point what, if any, changes in policy will take place in the outdoors arena. You can be sure there will be attention on the Sustainable Forestry Incentives Act and, specifically, the Molpus lands in the northeast. Both Dill and Sen. Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook – likely the next Senate majority leader – promised that company the Legislature would discuss the topic next session. If you remember, Molpus had planned to block access to its nearly 130,000 acres in the northeastern part of the state that aren’t covered by easements. It opted against doing so just before the hunting season.
Could the wolf hunt be in play? It seems doubtful, but there are a lot of DFLers (and Republicans, too, to be fair) who were opposed to it. It’s not impossible to envision a scenario in which a bill to eliminate the wolf season could get traction. On the other hand, both Dill and Bakk were supporters of the season, and both will have clout in such matters.
The flip of the state houses means both of the former environment committee chairmen – Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, and Rep. Denny McNamara, R-Hastings – find themselves in the minority party. But both likely still will play important roles on the outdoors front.
I arrived home Tuesday, just before the election, after four days of deer hunting. I saw two deer, but couldn’t get a shot at either of them.
Given the mild winter last year and the projections of a strong fawn crop, I expected to see a whole bunch of deer. But that simply wasn’t the case for me, or anyone with whom I hunted.
As of Thursday morning just before 10, a total of 74 wolves had been harvested. The east central zone, of course, is closed (hunters there shot eight wolves). Hunters have killed 34 animals in the northwest zone and 32 in the northeast zone.