Minnesota lawmaker stepping down to move with family to Europe

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A Minnesota state representative will be stepping away from the Legislature because he's moving to Europe.

Rep. Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley, announced the decision Thursday.

He and his family will be moving to Brussels, Belgium, after his wife, Jenny, accepted the position as Senior Vice President and General Counsel for Rezidor Hotel Group – a partner of Minnesota-based Carlson Companies.

"We are enthusiastic to be a part of Minnesota’s increasingly important role in the global economy. But taking this step has led me to the difficult decision to step down from the House of Representatives this summer," Winkler said in a statement.

Winkler says he will continue with his current role with Biothera, a Minnesota company that has international operations, and split his time between Minnesota and Belgium.

Winkler, who is in his fifth term, hasn't set a date for his resignation. He is the first lawmaker to resign since the 2014 election, the Pioneer Press notes.

In a statement, Rep. Paul Thissen said the Legislature will miss his "wit and intelligence, but most of all we will miss his impatience with injustice."

Winkler, who was first elected to represent District 46A in 2006, sponsored the legislation that raised minimum wage in Minnesota.

But this may not be the last of the sharp-tongued politician in the Capitol. He told The Associated Press his relocation isn't permanent and he may return to Minnesota politics in the future.

It is unclear if Winkler will still be in his position if lawmakers end up meeting in a special session this summer.

There will be a special election to fill Winkler's seat. A representative from the Secretary of State's Office told BringMeTheNews, once Gov. Mark Dayton receives Winkler's resignation in writing, he will be able to call a special election so that the elected person will be able to fill the vacant seat by March 8, 2016 – when the Legislature reconvenes.

Politicians and Minnesotans shared their reactions to Winkler's decision on Twitter:

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