In a stunning move, Sen. Linda Berglin announced today that she’s resigning from the Minnesota State Senate effective Aug. 15:
State Sen. Linda Berglin, who served in the Minnesota Legislature for nearly 40 years, has announced she’s retiring from the Senate next month.
Berglin, DFL-Minneapolis, has been influential in setting health care policy. She helped create MinnesotaCare, a state-subsidized health insurance program for low- and middle-income Minnesotans.
Berglin said the fact that Democrats no longer hold the majority in the Legislature was a factor in her decision, as were a decade of budget cuts to Health and Human Services programs.
“During the last six months, I felt that my talents and skills have been underutilized in the Minnesota Senate,” said Berglin. “As I see so much of what I have worked on over the years being chipped away or repealed entirely, I worry that our state is moving away from the community spirit that has made us such a great place.”
Berglin is taking a position with Hennepin County. Her retirement will be effective on Aug. 15. Gov. Dayton will have to call a special election to fill her seat.
Frankly, it’s been a tumultuous session for Sen. Berglin. Her goal seemingly was to keep the programs she’d passed in place. I’d heard rumors that there was a growing rift between Sen. Berglin and Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson. Whether this alleged rift was personal or profession wasn’t known but the rumors weren’t singular. They’d been heard 2-3 times.
When she says that “so much of what I have worked on over the years being chipped away or repealed entirely,” she’s likely referring to Steve Gottwalt’s Healthy Minnesota Contribution Program legislation, which does change the direction of taxpayer-subsidized health care.
It isn’t difficult to picture Gov. Dayton’s signing Rep. Gottwalt’s legislation into law as being the final straw that led to Sen. Berglin’s resignation. That might’ve been the final straw for Sen. Berglin but the first straw likely was her not being included as a conferee to the HHS conference committee.
This isn’t insignificant in that Sen. Berglin likely saw that as tarnishing her legacy and her reputation. It’s apparent from her statement that Sen. Berglin was bitter about the role she’d been delegated to. Any politician who’d wielded that much authority for that long is likely to have a healthy ego.
In the end, Sen. Berglin will be remembered for her work on health care issues. Still, it’ll be interesting to see how the debate shifts without her in the legislature.