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Sviggum earns praise from Senate Democrats

A Republican known as a fierce partisan when in the House earned praise from Senate Democrats Monday, giving every indication full Senate approval is likely as Gov. Tim Pawlenty's labor and industry commissioner.

"I'm one who is personally satisfied with the job you have done," Senate President James Metzen, DFL-South St. Paul, told Steve Sviggum.

The former House speaker, a Kenyon Republican, earned voice vote approval by Metzen's Business, Industry and Jobs Committee.

"There were some people going in afraid that there could be some partisanship," Metzen told Sviggum. "I can tell you what I have seen is you have become a very good regulator."

Sviggum, a long-time House member, said his commissioner post gave him "an opportunity to have a new beginning in public service."

He said that in his seven months as interim commissioner he has reached out to those affected by his department to find out what is needed.

The department regulates workers' compensation, safety and minimum wage laws, among others.