ST. PAUL -- Incoming Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk has announced who will lead committees for the next four years. Rod Skoe of Clearbrook, representing District 2, has been appointed chair of the Tax Committee. Tom Saxhaug of Grand Rapids, representing District 5, has been appointed chair of the State Departments and Veterans Affairs Finance.
Democrats regain control when senators return Jan. 8 for the 2012 session and lots of familiar Democratic senators will be chairmen.
The decision comes unexpectedly early since last week Bakk said the committee structure and chairmen would not be decided until early December.
Presumptive House Speaker Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, has not announced who will lead committees in his chamber.
Besides naming chairmen, Bakk appointed Sen. Jeff Hayden, DFL-Minneapolis, as deputy majority leader. That gives Senate DFLers leadership from urban, rural and suburban areas in Hayden, Bakk and Assistant Majority Leader Katie Sieben, DFL-Cottage Grove.
Like leadership, the 17 Senate committee chairmen are a mix of urban, suburban and rural. Six are from northern Minnesota.
The full Senate DFL caucus elected taxes and finance chairmen; leaders appointed the rest.
Here is a look at Senate committees and their chairmen, all Democrats:
-- Rules and Administration, Bakk.
-- Elections, Sieben.
-- Capitol Investment, LeRoy Stumpf of Plummer.
-- Taxes, Rod Skoe of Clearbrook.
-- Finance, Richard Cohen of St. Paul.
-- Education Finance, Chuck Wiger of Maplewood.
-- Environment, Economic Development and Agriculture finance, David Tomassoni of Chisholm.
-- Health and Human Services Finance, Tony Lourey of Kerrick.
-- Higher Education and Workforce Development Finance, Terri Bonoff of Minnetonka.
-- State Departments and Veterans Affairs Finance, Tom Saxhaug of Grand Rapids.
-- Commerce, Jim Metzen of South St. Paul.
-- Education, Patricia Torres Ray of Minneapolis.
-- Environment and Energy, John Marty of Roseville.
-- Health, Human Services and Housings, Kathy Sheran of Mankato.
-- Jobs, Agriculture and Rural Development, Dan Sparks of Austin.
-- Judiciary, Ron Latz of St. Louis Park.
-- State and Local Government, Sandy Pappas of St. Paul.
The Senate committee schedule shows work beginning at 8:30 a.m. Mondays, sometimes a day when no morning meetings are scheduled to give lawmakers from long distances time to drive to St. Paul. However, no regular meetings are scheduled after 11 a.m. Fridays.