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Hamilton promoted in GOP

Rep. Rod Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake, earlier this year listens to testimony about a 2008 law change that affects farmers who sell land for other types of development. He has been named an assistant minority leader for 2009. File photo by Don Davis - Minn. State Capitol Bureau

ST. PAUL - A southwestern Minnesota legislator who delivered some memorable speeches this year will be an assistant House minority leader.

Rep. Rod Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake, was named to that position by new Minority Leader Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove. Zellers has made no other changes in the leadership team he inherited.

"I am honored to have been asked and appointed to serve as an assistant minority leader," Hamilton said. "Rep. Zellers will work hard to balance the interests of rural and suburban Minnesota, and I look forward to helping him accomplish this goal."

A year ago, the story was different for Hamilton. He was on the outs with the person who then led House Republicans, Marty Seifert of Marshall. Seifert removed Hamilton from authority positions in 2008 after he voted to override a Gov. Tim Pawlenty veto of a transportation bill that included a gasoline tax increase. Hamilton was one of six Republicans to vote for the override.

This year, however, Hamilton earned kudos from both parties when he delivered speeches defending the rights of rural Minnesotans.

In one of his most memorable speeches, he complained that not enough money was spent on a veterans and agriculture bill.

"We are willing to fund dog parks and trails and hockey arenas," Hamilton said. "Where is our priority?"

In past sessions, Hamilton had been quiet, but this year he delivered several passionate speeches to the full House.

He was first elected in 2004 and specializes in rural issues such as agriculture, nursing homes and school funding.

"This upcoming legislative session promises to be challenging, as many Capitol insiders predict lawmakers will need to solve another budget deficit during the 2010 session," Hamilton said. "While this new leadership position brings added responsibilities, I look forward to continuing to advocate for the interests of my constituents, and encourage them to contact me if they have questions or concerns."

Zellers took over as minority leader last week after Seifert left the post to run for governor. Zellers grew up on a Devils Lake, N.D., farm, but now l lives in Maple Grove, a northwest Twin Cities suburb.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.