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Ingebrigtsen, Westrom named to lead committees

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Two legislators representing Douglas County were handed key positions in the Legislature Wednesday.

District 11 Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, was named chairman of the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Budget and Policy Committee.

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Ingebrigtsen, who is serving his second term in the Senate, was delighted to receive the assignment.

"As a lifelong Minnesotan and sportsman, I am aware of the balance that must be met between preservation of our state's many resources for future generations, while at the same time using a common-sense approach regarding restrictions and access to our resources," he said. "I also aim to create jobs and encourage tourism surrounding hunting and fishing."

Ingebrigtsen added that all Minnesotans have a stake in assuring the state's environment and natural resources are cared for.

"I encourage their active participation," he said. "I look forward to the challenges that this chairmanship will bring, and I will make sure all citizens are treated fairly and have their voices heard in this committee."

District 11A Representative Torrey Westrom, R-Elbow Lake, was appointed to chair the House Civil Law Committee, which addresses regulation and reforms regarding everything from legal rights to due process, tort reform, photo ID, preserving traditional marriage and more.

Westrom served on the committee for a number of years as a minority member. He now will chair the panel after Republicans gained majorities in both the House and Senate earlier this month.

Westrom, who practices law out of his hometown office, said he is eager to begin his new role in the House.

"I am honored to chair this committee and am grateful for this opportunity to help improve the way our state functions," Westrom said.

One key focus of the committee, he said, will be to listen and make changes to laws that cause red tape for small businesses.

"We've got to focus on bringing back a strong jobs environment in our state and this is one way to help," said Westrom, who was elected to his eighth term in the House. "I will continue to have an open-door policy and welcome suggestions from local citizens, job providers and beyond as we focus on doing what's best for Minnesota."

Westrom said he will ensure that legislation that grew out of an incident four years ago in which 2-year-old Emily Johnson was killed at her Fergus Falls daycare will "get better treatment" in the committee now that he is chairman.

In that case, the teenage son of the provider was found responsible but never served time for the crime because he was 13, and Johnson's family has been working to spur legislation that would toughen penalties for extreme juvenile crime.

Westrom said he expects a strenuous workload but that he knows from experience how valuable it can be to sit on the Civil Law Committee.

The Senate and House appointments were announced soon after the new Republican majority announced it was streamlining committee structure in both bodies of the Legislature.

The number of standing committees in the Senate was reduced from 25 to 16 while the number of House committees was chopped from 38 to 24.

Republican leaders said they made the change to reduce costs and make the legislative process more open and transparent for citizens.

Other committee assignments are expected to be announced prior to the January 4 start of the legislative session.

To contact Ingebrigtsen, call his office at (651) 297-8063 or e-mail sen.bill.ingebrigtsen@senate.mn.

Westrom can be reached at the Capitol by calling (651) 296-4929 or 1-800-711-2620, and by e-mail at rep.torrey.westrom@house.mn.

Tom Larson, editor of the Morris Sun Tribune, contributed to this story.

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Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
(320) 763-1236
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