At Issue: Dec. 17 - Lt. Gov. Tina Smith Appointed to U.S. Senate; Rep. Erik Paulsen Discusses GOP Tax Bill

December 17, 2017 09:47 PM

Lt. Gov. Tina Smith Appointed to U.S. Senate Seat Being Vacated by Sen. Al Franken

Gov. Mark Dayton has chosen his lieutenant governor, Tina Smith, to take over the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Al Franken. Franken plans to resign in early January amid sexual misconduct allegations from at least eight women. 

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Smith will not only take over the seat, but she also plans to run for it again in a November 2018 special election. Democrats in Washington not only see this as a chance to keep both Minnesota's U.S. Senate seats in their control, but also as a chance to take control of the full Senate. 

While Smith is well-known among political insiders in Minnesota, she's not well-known to most regular Minnesotans. She became lieutenant governor after running with Dayton in 2014. Before that, she was Dayton's chief of staff. She also served as chief of staff to former Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak and has worked in key roles with some of Minnesota's best-known politicians. 

Dayton's choice of Smith also creates an unusual situation at the State Capitol. The Minnesota constitution says if there's a vacancy in the lieutenant governor's office, the Senate president becomes lieutenant governor. In this case, that would be Republican Sen. Michelle Fischbach of Paynesville. She has said she wants to do both jobs, but Dayton doesn't believe that's allowed under the Constitution. The two had lunch Friday to discuss their objectives and goals for the final months Dayton is in office. Dayton has also asked Attorney General Lori Swanson for a formal opinion on whether or not Fischbach can, constitutionally, hold both roles. 

Congressman Erik Paulsen in Studio, Discusses GOP Tax Bill

This week, Republicans in the U.S. House and Senate came to an agreement on a final version of a sweeping tax reform bill. Their goal is to vote on it the week before Christmas and send it to President Trump's desk. 

Congressman Erik Paulsen (R-MN 3rd District) was one of the key lawmakers involved in crafting the bill. He joined Tom Hauser in studio to discuss what is and is not in the bill and how it could impact Minnesotans, how much they pay in taxes, and how much money they get to keep. 

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Amanda Theisen

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