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Monday, November 17, 2008

What does the election outcome mean for AHA?

Results from the 2008 elections are hot off the presses (pending recounts)! We have some great opportunities with new Minnesota legislators to bring them up to speed on American Heart Association issues, including the importance of heart disease and stroke prevention, reducing smoking, and promoting physical education to reduce childhood obesity.

State Election Outcomes:
The Minnesota House of Representatives will greet 20 new members and one member who won his seat back after a loss in 2006. One of the new House members is the former Secretary of State, Mary Kiffmeyer. The Senate will greet two new members who fill vacant seats due to retirements. The full Senate will be up for election in 2010.

Pending recounts in two House races and one Senate race, the political make-up of the legislature shifted in the House with the DFL majority picking up a total of two seats. If the recount does not change the outcome, the new make-up is 87 DFL and 47 Republican House members. The DFL majority is three votes shy of the 90 votes needed to override a veto by the governor.

In the Senate, one of the vacant seats had been held by a Republican so this pick-up by the DFL means the DFL will increase its majority by one vote. The Senate DFL majority already had a veto-proof majority with 45 seats. This addition will give them a 46 seat majority compared to the 21 seats held by Republicans.

What does this mean for passing our legislation? American Heart Association is nonpartisan so we always seek to have bipartisan leadership and support for our legislation. That being said, power at the legislature does sort according to which parties hold a majority in each body and how they interact with the governor. Had the House DFL majority picked up the seats to constitute a veto-proof majority, the story would be very different. There is not a major shift in power between the parties so there will not be a big impact. However, the greatest influence on our issues this year is unrelated to the election. The State of Minnesota faces a significant budget deficit in the coming years—some estimate the deficit to be between $2-4 billion for the next biennium. Addressing the budget deficit promises to be the primary focal point of the 2009 Legislative Session.

The election presents a great opportunity to educate new legislators about our issues. All told approximately 1/6 of the House are newly elected House members. The new members will have a steep learning curve and this provides the opportunity for constituents like you to get their ear and gain their support for our issues early on. The Legislature convenes January 6, 2009. We need you to contact your legislators and ask them to make American Heart Association issues their priorities for the 2009 Legislative Session! Take action today!

Federal Election Outcomes:
On the federal level, all of Minnesota’s incumbent U.S. House members won their bids for reelection, including Jim Oberstar (D-8th), Colin Peterson (D-7th), Betty McCollum (D-4th), Michele Bachmann (R-6th), Keith Ellison (D-5th), John Kline (R-2nd) and Tim Walz (D-1st). The 3rd congressional district seat was open due to Rep. Ramstad’s retirement. The 3rd district seat was won by Erik Paulsen, former Republican majority leader in the Minnesota House of Representatives. The Senate race between Sen. Coleman and Al Franken is so close that a mandatory recount will be triggered. The recount for the Senate race is expected to be completed in December, but ongoing litigation may draw the process out so final resolution is uncertain at this time.

Click here to learn who your legislator is.

For a full roster of the 2009 House and Senate members, click here.

Analysis provided by:
Rachel Callanan
Senior Advocacy Director

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