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Sterner has a good first day at capitol

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Phil Sterner had a pretty good first day at the capitol. As the newly elected 37B member of the House of Representatives he was sworn in with 22 others and then conducted some routine business. Then he held an open house.

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Going into his first day on the job the former Rosemount city council member said he didn't really experience any butterflies and everything pretty much went as he expected.

"I felt pretty comfortable there. It was exciting," said Sterner Tuesday night as the first day of the legislative session started to wind down. "I had family here and everything went really well."

District 37B includes Rosemount and part of Apple Valley. Sterner lives in Rosemount and owns an insurance agency in Apple Valley.

The first day didn't add up to much. Sterner, a Democrat, said as a group they conducted some routine business and got ready for a session that promises to be turbulent. Of the 134 elected House members, 87 are DFLers and 47 are Republicans.

"Budget, budget, budget that's the biggest thing we have to work on," said Sterner.

The biggest hurdle in front of state legislators is the states $4.8 billion budget shortfall.

"While the next few months will require some tough decisions, I also believe that we have an opportunity to emerge stronger than ever."

For the 2009-2010 legislative session Sterner will serve on several committees, including as vice-chair of the Local Government Division. Additionally he will serve on the Environment Policy and Oversight committee and the State and Local Government Operations Reform, Technology and Elections committee.

"It's sort of like getting Christmas presents when you don't get the ones you necessarily wanted but the ones that are best for you. That's sort of how I felt," said Sterner of his committee assignments.

Despite maybe a little disappointment Sterner said he thinks his assignments are a "good fit" for him.

"Based on my experience I should be able to do some good things," said Sterner.

Specifically, he said serving on the Rosemount City Council prepared him for his work on the Local Government committees.

"I think we will be able to look at ways to make local and state governments work more efficiently," he said.

In the coming days Sterner will complete some paper work and get to know his office staff. In addition, he will meet with various constituents and attend meetings to get a handle on what needs to be done.

Going into the next two years Sterner said he will strive to enact legislation that will benefit the people of 37B and Minnesota.

"Every two years they have the power to hire or fire you," said Sterner. "I'm just going to do my best serve them."

Sterner replaces longtime 37B representative Dennis Ozment in the house. Ozment announced his plans to retire in January of 2008. He served in the house for 24 years.

In the general election, held Nov. 4, Sterner beat Republican candidate Judy Lindsay and write-in candidate Kurt Hansen for the seat.

Residents of House District 37B can contact Phil Sterner at 651-296-4306, by mail at 523 State Office Building, St. Paul MN 55155 or via e-mail at rep.phil.sterner@house.mn.

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