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Fenton takes leadership role in legislature

State Rep. Kelly Fenton said she will use her new role as one of the Minnesota House's six assistant majority leaders to further causes that benefit Woodbury residents and taxpayers.

On Nov. 30 the Woodbury Republican was placed to a leadership role for the first time, during her second term in office. Earlier in the month, she was re-elected as the House expanded its majority in the House on election day, on the back of a large projected increase in healthcare premiums.

Fenton said Gov. Mark Dayton said it well when he stated that the Affordable Care Act wasn't affordable for Minnesotans anymore. Dayton backpedaled from the statement, but Republicans like Fenton think the admission of a need for change to MNsure could be a bridge between parties.

Fenton said her bipartisan bent won't change despite Republicans' control of the House and the Senate in the 2017-18 legislative session.

"My intent is to still work with the other side," Fenton said.

Meaningful legislation — specifically in the areas of tax relief, education and transportation — was passed by the House last year, she added.

Fenton said being in a leadership role could give her a stage for more work on the 94/494/694 interchange.

"It's an excellent opportunity to bring Woodbury priorities to leadership. I started it," she said of a bill to study the safety on the interstates through Woodbury, "and I want to see it through. It's a top priority. We don't want money to be spent on a Band-Aid solution that pushes it down the road. We want a study of what it'll cost to do it right."

While Fenton said she is hopeful a proposed special session will result in health care reform and tax relief solutions, Republicans have to improve their relationships with Dayton to avoid vetoes — and issue in 2016 — and get on with improving student learning in the state, a long-term fix for MNsure, and other initiatives.

"I'm hoping we can get that done and start afresh with the new session," Fenton said.

Other Republican House assistant majority leaders include Rep.-elect Randy Jessup of Shoreview and reps. Jim Nash of Waconia, Marion O'Neill of Maple Lake, Roz Peterson of Lakeville, and Dan Fabian of Roseau. Rep. Ron Kresha of Little Falls serves as majority whip, and Rep. Tony Albright of Prior Lake serves as speaker pro tempore. Kurt Daudt of Crown returns as speaker of the House and Joyce Peppin of Rogers is the House majority leader.