Top Minnesota Legislator Takes Reins at Labor Department

Rep. Steve Sviggum becomes the new commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry effective July 17, having been appointed last month by Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Sviggum is serving his 15th term in the Minnesota House of Representatives and was Speaker of the House for four terms and House Minority Leader for three terms. In 1985-86, he chaired the Unemployment Insurance and Workers' Compensation Division of the House Labor-Management Relations Committee.

"Minnesota's workers and businesses rely on the Department of Labor and Industry as a trusted resource and regulator," Pawlenty said when he announced the appointment. "Steve is known for his ability to work with and listen to people on all sides of an issue. His philosophy has always revolved around balance, and I know he'll bring that to DLI."

The department oversees the workers' comp system, OSHA consultation, and labor law compliance; certifies and monitors the state registered apprenticeship program; and regulates the state's construction codes and licensing activities. It has about 500 employees. Sviggum and his family are beef and grain farmers in the Kenyon, Minn. area, and he is a senior fellow in the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.

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