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Regional lawmakers get call

With the Republican takeover of the Minnesota House of Representatives and Senate, other area lawmakers have ascended to committee chairmanships.

District 14 Sen. Michelle Fischbach, of Paynesville, is set to chair the Higher Education Budget & Policy Committee.

District 11 Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, of Alexandria, will chair the Senate Environmental and Natural Resources Budget and Policy Committee.

District 11A Rep. Torrey Westrom, of Elbow Lake, will chair the House Civil Law Committee.

Ingebrigtsen said in a statement Wednesday that he understands that a balance must be reached between preservation of resources and not placing undue restrictions on access to those resources. He also stated that job creation and tourism involving hunting and fishing will be a priority.

"All Minnesotans have a stake in assuring our environment and natural resources are cared for, and I encourage their active participation," Ingebrigtsen said.

Westrom has served on the Civil Law Committee for several terms but as a minority member. He does have experience chairing a committee when he led what was then the Regulated Industries Committee from 2003 to 2006.

The Civil Law Committee, which had been called the Civil Justice Committee under former chair Joe Mullery, deals with regulation and reforms, Westrom said.

"It's everything on the civil side of statutes," said Westrom, a lawyer who earlier this month won re-election to an eighth two-year term. "Legal rights, due process, tort reform, photo ID, same-sex marriage and many other things."

Fischbach was traveling Wednesday and could not be reached for comment.

Reporting by Tom Larson of the Morris Sun-Tribune.