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Local legislators appointed to a variety of committees

BEMIDJI--State GOP leaders appointed the Bemidji area's newly-elected legislators to a variety of committees at the capital ahead of the 2017 legislative session, which convenes next week.

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BEMIDJI-State GOP leaders appointed the Bemidji area's newly-elected legislators to a variety of committees at the capital ahead of the 2017 legislative session, which convenes next week.

The Republican house and senate caucuses appointed District 2 and 5 Senators-Elect Paul Utke and Justin Eichorn as well as District 2A and 5A Representatives-Elect Matt Grossell and Matt Bliss to more than a dozen legislative committees last week.

In the House of Representatives, Bliss, R-Pennington, has been appointed to the following committees:

• The Veterans Affairs Division as vice chair, chaired by District 39A Rep. Bob Dettmer, R-Forest Lake.

• The Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee, chaired by District 1A Rep. Dan Fabian, R-Roseau.

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• The Government Operations and Elections Committee, chaired by District 13B Rep. Tim O'Driscoll, R-Sartell.

• The Mining, Forestry and Tourism Committee, chaired by District 16A Rep. Chris Swedzinski, R-Ghent.

"That veterans affairs committee assignment was one I really was hoping to get, and then to be named vice chairman, it's all the more exciting," Bliss said in a press release. "Scotty Allison from Beltrami County Veterans Services, Beltrami County Commissioner Joe Vene and other members of the task force are doing a great job to help bring a new veterans facility to Bemidji and I look forward to doing my part at the Capitol to make this important project a reality."

The importance of the committees related to the environment and mining were also highlighted by Bliss, who said, "serving on those two committees will allow me to be at the forefront of decisions that could bring huge benefits to northern Minnesota at a time we really could use a lift. We are at something of a crossroads and the choices we make now will have long-lasting impacts."

Grossell, R-Clearbrook, meanwhile, has been appointed to three committees:

• The Capital Investment Committee, chaired by District 18A Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Grove City.

• The Education Innovation Policy Committee, chaired by District 15A Rep. Sondra Erickson, R-Princeton.

• The Public Safety and Security Policy and Finance Committee, chaired by District 23B Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Vernon Center.

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In the upper chamber, Utke, R-Park Rapids, has been selected for four committees, including:

• The Human Services Reform Finance and Policy Committee as vice chair, chaired by District 35 Sen. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka.

• The Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee, chaired by District 16 Sen. Gary Dahms, R-Redwood Falls.

• The E-12 Education Policy Committee, chaired by District 55 Sen. Eric Pratt, R-Prior Lake.

• The Jobs and Economic Growth Finance and Policy Committee, chaired by District 28 Sen. Jeremy Miller, R-Winona.

"Human services is such a big chunk of the state budget, it's an easy target for fraud, abuse and waste," Utke said in a press release. "It will be our mission to get rid of that waste while continuing our nation-leading commitment to our most vulnerable citizens. I am honored to have the opportunity."

Eichorn, R-Grand Rapids, was also selected as a vice chair, as he was appointed to the position in the E-12 Education Policy Committee.

Other appointments for Eichorn were:

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• The E-12 Education Finance Committee, chaired by District 26 Sen. Carla Nelson, R-Rochester.

• The Environment and Natural Resources Finance Committee, chaired by District 8 Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria.

• The Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Legacy Finance Committee, chaired by District 10 Sen. Carrie Ruud, R-Breezy Point.

• The Capital Investments Committee, chaired by District 25 Sen. David Senjem, R-Rochester.

The four legislators will assume their roles after they are sworn in on Jan. 3.

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