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Koenen moves from Minn. House to Senate

Minnesota Court of Appeals Judge Randolph Peterson, right, administers the oath of office Wednesday to Sen. Lyle Koenen, DFL-Clara City. Koenen won a special election last week to fulfill the term of the late Sen. Gary Kubly. (Submitted photo by David J. Oakes, Minnesota Senate Photographer)

ST. PAUL -- On Tuesday Rep. Lyle Koenen sat at his desk on the floor of the Minnesota House of Representatives, representing his west central Minnesota constituents from District 20B.

On Wednesday morning, Koenen walked down the hall and took a seat on the Senate floor where he was sworn in as the senator from District 20.

"It's exciting," said the Clara City DFLer in a telephone interview Wednesday, adding that there has been speculation at the Capitol about whether there has ever been a legislator who served in the House one day and the Senate the next day while the session was under way.

The five-term representative was elected last week in a special election to fill the remaining term of the late Sen. Gary Kubly, who died in March from complications from Lou Gehrig's disease.

Following the swearing-in ceremony, Sen. Koenen made a brief speech, thanking voters for "allowing me the honor of completing Senator Kubly's term. That's something that's very special and I do appreciate that."

Koenen also thanked his family for getting him through the whirlwind campaign and election. "Without their help and assistance and tolerance for all this, I wouldn't be here," he said.

The election was just 33 days after Kubly's death.

Koenen said Kubly is someone "nobody can replace" and someone who served as the "perfect example" of how a legislator should conduct himself.

"It's the example I expect to follow," said Koenen, who will spend the rest of the session sitting at Kubly's desk on the Senate floor.

Fellow senators stood and applauded Koenen after he was sworn in, but he quickly got to work and cast his first votes.

Most of the bills coming before the Senate had already been acted on in the House which allowed Koenen to be "pretty much up to speed" on the issues, he said.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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