Lt. Gov.’s Resignation Deadlocks Minnesota Senate at 33-33

Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota.

ST. PAUL, Minn. (CN) —Minnesota’s Lieutenant Governor Michelle Fischbach resigned from the state Senate Friday and took the oath of office as lieutenant governor, putting an end to the controversy of her holding both offices at the same time.

Fischbach, a longtime Republican lawmaker who was president of the Minnesota Senate, became lieutenant governor after Democratic Governor Mark Dayton appointed then-Lt. Gov. Tina Smith to fill the U.S. Senate seat that belonged to Al Franken, who resigned.

Democrats accused Fischbach of violating the Constitution by holding both offices. In a lawsuit before the Legislature convened, a judge ruled that the suit was premature. Constituent Destiny Dusosky filed a second suit against Fischbach in Ramsey County Court, claiming the Minnesota Constitution prohibits a state senator or representative from holding two offices simultaneously.

Dusosky’s attorney Charlie Nauen did not respond to a request for comment Sunday afternoon, but Minnesota news outlets reported that Dusosky plans to drop her lawsuit.

With Fischbach’s resignation from her St. Cloud-based seat, the state Senate is equally divided, with 33 Republicans and 33 Democrats. The fate of which party controls that chamber will depend on the outcome of a special election in Fischbach’s former district.

Fischbach was the first woman in Minnesota history to become president of the Senate. She also chaired the Senate Higher Education Finance and Policy Committee.

“While I never expected this, I am prepared to take on this challenge and serve Minnesotans to the best of my ability,” Fischbach said in a statement. “My goal over the past five months was to serve the constituents who elected me during this important legislative session. Now that the work of the Legislature has concluded, I will resign my seat in the Senate and focus on my role as Lieutenant Governor. I am honored to continue serving the people of Minnesota, and look forward to working with Governor Dayton.”

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