St. Paul, MN (NNCNOW.com) - It was a sea of fresh faces at the Capitol on Tuesday.
199 lawmakers with both the house and senate were sworn in on the first day of the session in St. Paul.
Among them, new District 7B Representative, Assistant Duluth Fire Chief Erik Simonson. Simonson takes the spot once held by embattled Representative Kerry Gauthier and says he's ready to get to work.
"It's pretty amazing the challenge we have before us, but with any challenge comes a unique opportunity," Rep. Simonson said. Our caucus here is focused to finally fix Minnesota's perpetual budget problems."
Representative Jason Mesta (DFL - Dist. 6B), also a new face at the capitol, fills the shoes of long time Iron Range Representative Tom Rukavina.
"I'll be on the jobs and economic committee and I think we really need to get our educators paid and one of the other things I'd like to see is our state employees have a contract," he said.
The first order of business for both representatives along with their colleagues in the Senate on Tuesday was casting votes for house speaker, which went to Representative Paul Thissen (DFL - Dist. 61B)
The Senate welcomed Tom Bakk (DFL - Dist. 3) as the majority leader and Carly Melin (DFL - Dist. 6A) as the assistant majority leader.
Governor Mark Dayton, who continues to recover from surgery, is expected to deliver his biennium budget proposal at the end of January.
The first legislation is expected to be introduced at the Capitol on Thursday.