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Smith won't be in Willmar today; schedule change likely linked to Franken's Senate seat vacancy

WILLMAR -- Lt. Gov. Tina Smith won't be at a previously scheduled meeting today in Willmar to discuss MinnesotaCare, but will instead be meeting with Gov. Mark Dayton.

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WILLMAR - Lt. Gov. Tina Smith won't be at a previously scheduled meeting today in Willmar to discuss MinnesotaCare, but will instead be meeting with Gov. Mark Dayton.

The change in Smith's schedule adds fuel to speculation that Smith may be named to replace Sen. Al Franken, who announced yesterday on the Senate floor that he will resign following allegations by several women of inappropriate behavior.

Smith was scheduled to accompany Human Services Commissioner Emily Piper at an 11 a.m. meeting today at the Willmar Public Library to discuss a "MinnesotaCare Buy-In" proposal that would allow Minnesotans who purchase their health coverage on the individual market to buy into MinnesotaCare.

The meeting will still take place, but apparently not with Smith.

Late Thursday night Smith's office sent a notice that she will meet with Governor Mark Dayton, commissioners and staff 'throughout the day.'

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The notice said these meetings are closed to the press.

Published reports have indicated Smith may be a top contender for Dayton to appoint to fill Franken's seat until a special election is held in November. Sen. Amy Klobuchar is also up for election next fall.

If Smith is appointed to fill Franken's seat, Senate President Michelle Fischbach, a Republican from Paynesville, would move into Smith's seat and serve as lieutenant governor alongside Dayton - a Democrat.

If Dayton was unable to finish his term, Fischbach would be named governor.

Dayton said in a press release yesterday that he would make a decision on who to appoint in the next couple of days.

Related Topics: HEALTHTINA SMITH
Carolyn Lange is a features writer at the West Central Tribune. She can be reached at clange@wctrib.com or 320-894-9750
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