St. Paul lawmaker Erin Murphy named Minnesota Senate Majority Leader

Longtime St. Paul lawmaker Sen. Erin Murphy will be the leader of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor majority in the Minnesota Senate.

DFL senators elected Murphy as majority leader on Tuesday, a little less than a week before the 2024 legislative session begins. Murphy replaces Majority Leader Kari Dziedzic, who had been the top Senate Democrat since their party won a 34-33 majority over Republicans in the 2022 election.

Dziedzic announced last week she had to step down after learning her cancer had returned after she underwent surgery to remove a tumor during the legislative session last year. The five-term Minneapolis senator will remain in office but announced she would vacate the leadership role last Friday.

“I am honored by the vote of my Senate colleagues, and I’m committed to working with all the members of the diverse DFL Caucus to serve the people of Minnesota wherever they live,” Murphy said in a statement. “In the coming months, following the example set by leader (Dziedzic), we will continue our work building on what we accomplished in the 2023 legislative session to meet Minnesotans where they are at, and to improve their lives.”

Murphy reportedly did not answer any questions at a Senate DFL caucus news conference Tuesday outside the Senate Chambers at the Capitol.

Murphy is a registered nurse and represents Senate District 64, which covers southwestern St. Paul and includes Highland Park, Macalester-Groveland, Summit Hill and Union Park. Before she was elected to the Senate in 2020, she served six terms in the House after being elected in 2006. She is the former executive director of the Minnesota Nurses Association.

In 2018 she won the DFL endorsement for governor but lost in the primary to Gov. Tim Walz, who went on to defeat GOP gubernatorial nominee Jeff Johnson in the general election. Murphy had chaired the Senate State and Local Government and Veterans Committee.

The DFL holds a narrow 34-33 majority in the Senate.

During last year’s legislative session, Democrats in control of state government passed paid family and medical leave, and universal school meals and created protections for abortion access in state law.

The 2024 session begins on Feb. 12.

This year’s agenda is likely to be far less sweeping, with lawmakers and Walz signaling interest in implementing last year’s agenda and passing a bonding bill to finance public infrastructure projects.

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