What changes today in Minnesota politics

New year, new faces.
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2018 is starting off with a bang in Minnesota politics, with the first working day of the new year seeing a flurry of momentous departures and arrivals.

To get you up to speed, here are a few of the key moves taking place today.

Al Franken resigns

Arguably the most significant development of the day, Al Franken will resign as a Minnesota senator.

The second-term senator announced his decision to step down last month, after 30 of his fellow Democratic senators called on him to do so after several allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior.

His resignation comes despite calls from many of his supporters in Minnesota for him to stay.

A poll taken 2 days after Christmas found Minnesotans are 50-42 in favor of him staying on as senator, the Daily Beast reports, while they were 76-12 in favor of Minnesotans deciding his fate, not his fellow, non-Minnesotan senators.

He will be replaced by Minnesota's Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith, who is expected to take up her role on Wednesday. 

Continued uncertainty over Smith's replacement

The ascendance of Lt. Gov. Smith to Franken's Senate seat has sparked a bit of a crisis in the Minnesota legislature.

That's because under state laws, Smith should technically be replaced by the president of the Minnesota Senate, which is currently Republican Sen. Michelle Fischbach.

The problem for Republicans is that Fischbach leaving the Senate would give Democrats the opportunity to end the GOP Party's majority, which currently stands at 34-32 with one seat vacant, during special elections in February.

As the Star Tribune reports, House leader Kurt Daudt and Senate leader Paul Gazelka have written to Gov. Mark Dayton asking for a special session of the legislature to meet on Wednesday.

The idea is that a new Senate president, a Democrat, would be elected at the session, and they would then become the Lieutenant Governor under Dayton.

This would allow Fischbach to resume her role as Senate president and keep the GOP majority intact. Fischbach had hoped to carry out both roles, but Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson has said that's probably unconstitutional.

New Twin Cities mayors

The November elections brought new mayors to both Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Jacob Frey triumphed over Betsy Hodges in Minneapolis, and he will be sworn-in at a private ceremony on Tuesday, ahead of a public inauguration next Monday.

He is expected to highlight his administration policies after the private ceremony, which will include increasing affordable housing access, strengthening police/community relations, and fueling economic growth "through inclusion," his office said.

In St. Paul, Melvin Carter has already been having an impact before assuming office, getting input from 100 community leaders before deciding on who will fill 10 director roles in his administration.

He will be inaugurated at his alma mater, Central High School, on Tuesday, and the Pioneer Press has put together a list of 10 issues facing him during his first year – including the citywide $15 minimum wage and paid sick leave ordinances.

History made in Minneapolis

The November elections also brought in new faces to city councils across the state.

But in Minneapolis, there was history made as not one, but two successful candidates became the first transgender people to win a council seat in a major American city.

Andrea Jenkins will serve Ward 8, covering neighborhoods in south Minneapolis, while Phillipe Cunningham won in Ward 4, in north Minneapolis.

Cunningham's win means Tuesday will also see the city say goodbye to long-serving city council president Barb Johnson.

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