With a new governor comes a change in the leadership of our state’s agencies. Governor Dayton recently completed his final cabinet appointments, thus ushering in a new administration to lead our state forward. His selections have been widely praised for their expertise. A few of the new commissioners are highlighted below.
Agriculture: Dave Frederickson
It's been 15 years since we've had a new Commissioner of Agriculture as the former commissioner (Gene Hugoson) served in that position under the Carlson, Ventura, and Pawlenty administrations. Commissioner Dave Frederickson brings a strong background in agriculture and public policy to this position. A farmer from Murdock, Minnesota, he was elected to the Minnesota Senate in 1986 representing Swift, Yellow Medicine, Lac Qui Parle, Chippewa, and Redwood Counties. He chaired the Agriculture and Rural Development Subcommittee on Agriculture Resources for two sessions.
From 1991 to 2002, Frederickson served as president of the Minnesota Farmers Union. He then went on to serve as president of the National Farmers Union from 2002 to 2006. Most recently, Frederickson worked as agricultural outreach director for U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar.
The Department of Agriculture is tasked with protection services such as food safety, pesticide and fertilizer management, plant protection and laboratory services, agricultural marketing including export and promotional programs.
Commerce: Michael Rothman
The mission of the Department of Commerce is "to ensure equitable commercial and financial transactions and reliable utility services by: regulating and licensing business activity in more than 20 industries; investigating and resolving consumer complaints; advocating the public's interest before the Public Utilities Commission; and, administering various state programs."
The 20 industries include banks, real estate, energy, securities, insurance and collections. As Commerce Commissioner, Mike Rothman is the state's chief insurance regulator and, as such, he is in charge of implementing the federal health care law requiring Minnesota to create a health insurance exchange.
Commissioner Rothman brings to the position many years of experience in dealing with the insurance industry, having most recently worked at as an attorney at Winthrop & Weinstine, P.A., where he was co-chair of their Insurance & Financial Services practice group. From 1988 to 1992, Rothman was a staff member for the Minnesota Senate where he worked on a legislative project to overhaul Minnesota's insurance laws.
Human Services: Lucinda Jesson
Human Services Commissioner Lucinda brings a varied background and depth of legal knowledge to this position having spent time as an attorney in both the public and private sectors.
Early in her career she served as Deputy Attorney General where she represented the Department of Human Services and other health-related agencies on a broad range of issues. Later, Jesson served as Chief Deputy Hennepin County Attorney where she worked on child support, child protection and juvenile justice issues. On the private side, Jesson was previously a partner and of counsel to Oppenheimer Wolff and Donnelly, as well as the founder of her own law firm in St. Paul, Jesson & Pust P.A. Jesson is the founding director of the Health Law Institute at Hamline University.
The Department of Human Services is the largest state agency, and its programs include Medical Assistance (MA), General Assistance Medical Care (GAMC), MinnesotaCare, Minnesota Family Investment Program (Minnesota's version of the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program), General Assistance (GA), child protection, child support enforcement, child welfare services, and services for people who are mentally ill, chemically dependent or have physical or developmental disabilities.
As commissioner, Jesson will be in charge of implementing an early expansion of Medicaid in Minnesota as part of the federal health care law.
Minnesota Management and Budget: Jim Schowalter
Governor Mark Dayton didn't have to look far to find the new Commissioner of Management and Budget; Jim Schowalter was already serving as deputy commissioner. Viewed by many as a non-partisan budget expert, his past experience with the agency will prove useful as he approaches a multi-billion dollar deficit forecast for the next biennium.
As deputy commissioner at Minnesota Management and Budget, he coordinated the agency's financial, debt management, human resources, and labor activities. Previous roles at Minnesota Management and Budget included assistant commissioner and state budget director.
A Wisconsin native, Schowalter worked as regional economist at the Boston regional office of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and as budget officer at the U.S. Office of Management and Budget.
Pollution Control Agency: Paul Aasen
Commissioner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Paul Aasen comes to this position from the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, where he served as its advocacy director beginning in 2007.
Past experience includes director of government relations and policy for Governor Jesse Ventura, executive vice president at Global Volunteers, Department of Public Safety assistant commissioner, Division of Emergency Management director, and Minnesota Emergency Response Commission executive director. Aasen was also an environmental scientist at the Metropolitan Waste Control Commission.
Aasen has stated that his top priorities include cleaning up state rivers and lakes and improving air quality in the metro area.