Yeah, no. Whats the hidden agenda? “I’m stepping down for now” is a key quote in her agenda.

Carly Melin won’t seek re-election to Legislature
By John Myers Today at 2:59 p.m.
melin,carly
State Rep. Carly Melin of Hibbing, who became the first Iron Range woman elected to the Legislature in two decades, announced Thursday that she won’t seek re-election this year.

Melin, 30, said she wants to spend more time developing her legal career and her young family — with one toddler, Leonard, in diapers and another child on the way.

The DFLer first took office in a special election in early 2011 to fill the vacancy opened when Tony Sertich left the House to become head of the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board.

She was re-elected in 2012 and 2014 by huge margins and was expected to easily win again this year.

“It’s a long distance to try to handle a family in Hibbing and a job in St. Paul. It’s a problem for a lot of us in Greater Minnesota,’’ Melin told the News Tribune Thursday. “And I want to develop my career outside the Legislature.’’

Melin, who represents District 6B, is an attorney for the Prebich law firm in Hibbing.

“This is going to be my sixth session coming up, which is actually about average for the House,’’ Melin noted, but hinted she may not be done with public service.

“I’m stepping out for now. But I’m still pretty young and I’m not ruling out coming back into public office some day,” she said. “It has been a privilege to serve in the Legislature and a true honor to represent the citizens of my district at the Capitol.’’

State Rep. Tom Anzelc of Balsam Township, a fellow DFLer who represents the neighboring district, said the loss of Melin’s efforts in St. Paul will be felt across the Iron Range.

“I feel bad in terms of the delegation and the people we represent across the Iron Range. She represented young families and new ideas, and we needed that. She’s going to be missed,’’ Anzelc said. “I give her credit for figuring out that, for her, trying to balance that public life and travel to St. Paul just didn’t square up with her family life. A lot of people (in the Legislature) never figured that out.”

State Sen. Dave Tomassoni, DFL-Chisholm, agreed.

“She’s been a very, very good legislator. Very focused. The Iron Range is going to miss having her in St. Paul,’’ he said. “But she’s doing it for all the right reasons.”

Melin developed a high profile statewide in recent years for her efforts to pass a state law allowing access to medical marijuana for people with extreme illnesses. The law passed in 2014 and took effect last year.

She also championed efforts for a new law that expunges distant past youth criminal history for people who have become good public citizens later in life. And she’s been a tireless champion of Iron Range causes like the current plight of the region’s taconite iron ore industry and its workers, many of whom are laid off. She said that crisis will be the focus of her efforts in the 2016 session that starts in March.

“I am proud of my work as a legislator, including increasing investment in Iron Range K-12 schools, securing funding for various infrastructure and community projects across the region, advocating for the less fortunate, and fighting for working and middle-class Minnesota families,’’ Melin noted.

Melin said she made the announcement early in the year to allow prospective candidates time to consider the open seat.

As usual with an open Iron Range seat, it’s expected several DFL candidates will emerge. Melin was one of five DFLers who vied for the seat in 2011. Melin said she has not heard of any potential candidates as yet.

Nashwauk Mayor Benjamin DeNucci and Hibbing’s Dan Hill, a laid-off United Taconite worker who has emerged as a spokesman for the troubled Range, have been mentioned as possible candidates.

District 6B covers all of southwestern St. Louis County, including HIbbing, Chisholm and Floodwood, but also stretches well into Itasca County, including Nashwauk, Keewatin, Marble, Bigfork and Effie.

Melin had been rumored as a replacement for Steve Raukar, who is retiring this year after three decades on the St. Louis County board. While that office pays better than state lawmaker, and would allow her to stay at home, Melin said Thursday that filing for county commissioner this year “is not my plan at this time.”

Melin attended Hibbing High School, graduated magna cum laude from Bemidji State University and received her law degree from Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul. She’s married to Zeb Norenberg, also a Hibbing native.

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