2016 Legislator of the Year
Representative Lyle Koenen
There aren’t many legislators who have milked a cow for pay, and we don’t believe there is anyone else who has driven a milk truck as an occupation. But, there is one in our friend, Senator Lyle Koenen.
Lyle represented the area around his residence near Clara City, as a Representative from 2003 through 2012. In 2012, the death of Senator Gary Kubly forced a special election for the Senate seat, which Koenen won and put him into the Senate for the last four years. Unfortunately, Senator Lyle Koenen lost his election earlier this month. However, we encourage him to stay involved in Minnesota agricultural policy.
Before Senator Koenen’s 14 years in the legislature, he grew up near Maynard and went on to what was then Willmar Technical College earning his degree in agriculture. Koenen worked as a dairy farmer, bus driver, and milk truck driver, and has been active in the Chippewa County Farmers Union.
In the legislature, Koenen served as chair of the House Agriculture, Rural Economies, and Veterans Affairs subcommittee. In the halls of the legislature, words used about Koenen were “practical,” “honest,” and “straight-shooter,” which can be refreshing in that body.
To show this practicality, some bills Koenen has chief authored over the years include prohibiting the tampering of farm tractor clock-hour meters, stopping the transportation commissioner from requiring computerized certificates for highway construction contracts, and holding retailers harmless for not collecting sales tax on grain bins.
Along the way he has championed bills that many Minnesota Milk priorities like help for beginning farmers, value-added agriculture through AURI – the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute, and streamlining property taxes.
For dairy farmers in 2016, Koenen deserves a huge thank you for his understanding and compromise to continue allowing us to use a safe, efficient, and environmentally friendly way to continue pumping manure. Working with Minnesota Milk and other livestock groups in Minnesota, Senator Koenen put aside politics in favor of practicality. Due to Lyle’s knowledge of manure hoses, we passed a streamlined permitting and rule mechanism compared to what was proposed for allowing manure to be pumped through ditches and other right of ways.