'What an honor and privilege it has been': Marquart delivers heartfelt departing remarks on MN House floor
After 22 years as a state legislator, Rep. Paul Marquart is not seeking reelection. During departing remarks made on the floor of the Minnesota House of Representatives in St. Paul on May 23, he reflected on his early days in the legislature and thanked his colleagues, staff and loved ones for their years of support.
DETROIT LAKES — In keeping with tradition, 21 Minnesota House members who decided not to seek reelection gave impassioned departing speeches on the floor of the Minnesota House of Representatives on May 23, following the closing of the regular legislative session.
One of those members was Rep. Paul Marquart of Dilworth, Minnesota.
"The member from Clay, the best tax chair in the United States of America, Representative Paul Marquart," announced the Minnesota Speaker of the House as the 11-term Marquart stood up with a smile, leading to a rise in cheers, applause, and a series of 'whoots' from his legislative colleagues.
"I first of all want to start out by saying what an honor and privilege it has been to serve 22 years in this Minnesota House of Representatives. It's been such an honor," said Marquart.
Marquart reflected on his first days in the legislature, back when he got his first calendar. His first legislative meeting, he said, was in room 311-SOB and, after traversing the Capitol's third floor, he returned to a colleague and said he couldn't find the room for his appointment — the colleague informed him that 311-SOB was his own office.
"So the first thing I learned was where my office was," said Marquart.
After thanking his legislative and committee staffers for the past 22 years, he said that without their assistance, his office wouldn't have been able to help as many Minnesotans as they did.
"We're so fortunate to have people that support us, they work for us, they make us look good," said Marquart. "It's House research, partisan and non-partisan, media, constituency, the front desk, the sergeant-at-arms — they do such a wonderful job representing the state of Minnesota."
He also highlighted the work of the House Tax Committee, the committee he chaired, saying it was "the best committee in the House."
"Chief Clerk Murphy, please note that in the journal," he said, to laughter and applause from his colleagues.
He praised the tax committee's former chairpersons, from whom, he said, he learned a great deal about tax policy and mentorship.
The retiring legislator also praised the former and current speakers of the Minnesota House of Representatives for trusting him with such an important chairmanship time and time again.
"Margaret Anderson Kelliher, Paul Thissen and Speaker Melissa Hortman; and speaker Hortman, the last two years we've gone through the worst pandemic in 100 years, and a killing that shocked the world, and you kept this institution strong and stable, and you did that with compassion, with strength, and with dignity, and this body, and this institution remained intact and strong because of your leadership," said Marquart. "I want to thank my students at Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton who kept me optimistic for the future."
As the 2022 Minnesota legislative session closed on Sunday, without a tax bill being passed, Marquart jokingly celebrated the historic accomplishment.
"I have to say, my proudest legislative accomplishment was successfully passing the largest tax cut in the hist...oh, no, I'm sorry, I forgot to take that out," said Marquart, to laughter from his colleagues.
He then thanked his family.
Marquart told his colleagues that he learned the value of public service from his parents, who were married in 1935 during the Great Depression.
"They talked a lot about President Roosevelt and they talked about how government can do good and help people," he said. "And a huge 'thank you' to my wife, Colleen, who didn't sign up for this, and my family for their love and support because it just would not be possible without that."
He told his fellow members that his daughter reminded him that when he first entered the state legislature she was entering the fourth grade and now she is completing her eighth year as a teacher, which shows "how time flies."
In a previous interview with the Tribune, Marquart said meeting constituents, helping them with their issues and going door-to-door talking to the residents in his district "kept me grounded and it kept me focused, and it was a constant reminder of who I serve."