Freshman lawmakers at the Minnesota State Capitol don’t often make an impact. Historically, they are counseled to be seen, but not often heard. But that wasn’t the case with Dr. Scott Jensen, a Republican senator from Carver County on the edge of the Twin Cities metro area. Senator Jensen developed a reputation for seeking bipartisan solutions and bucking his party from time to time. For example, he advocated legalization for marijuana and supported a ban on LGBTQ conversion therapy during the last legislative session. Along with three other physician lawmakers, he thought creatively about ways to improve health care in our state.
Recently, Jensen announced that he won’t seek re-election when his legislative term ends next year. In making the announcement on social media, Jensen said that he didn’t run for office “to go along and get along.” The senator cited his desire to spend more time with family and with his medical practice. But it was also clear that frustration with the legislative process was a factor in his decision.
During an interview with Almanac hosts Cathy Wurzer and Eric Eskola, Senator Jensen talked about what has changed with politics today. “We used to be able to disagree with one another and oftentimes the question that would come out of our mouths would be, ‘That’s not the way I see it. Why do you think that?’ Today when we disagree, we go just straight to contempt. We don’t just get angry at the other person, we despise them.”
The bottom line for Scott Jensen? The capitol, he says, “is not a healthy environment.” We hope to hear more from Senator Jensen in the remaining time of his term. And don’t be surprised if Almanac viewers see him down the road as part of our former lawmaker panel.
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Earlier this year, several new “freshman” lawmakers attended their first legislative session. Mary Lahammer checked in with many of them to learn more about the issues they championed along the way.
Discover what happened when several MN House majority leaders broke bread together in an effort to discuss how to bridge increasingly partisan divides in state politics. Hint: There were even red and blue boxing gloves as centerpieces.