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Professional engineer atop MnDOT

Published (5/16/2008)
By Mike Cook
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The prerequisite to be one of the top Department of Transportation officials could be changing.

House approval was given May 12 to a bill that would require the transportation commissioner or a deputy commissioner to be licensed as a professional engineer and serve as a chief engineer.

“This reflects a final agreement we reached with the department,” said Rep. Terry Morrow (DFL-St. Peter), who sponsors HF3090*/SF2925 with Sen. Kathy Saltzman (DFL-Woodbury). It now awaits action by the full Senate.

One of those voting no during the 104-26 vote was Rep. Mark Buesgens (R-Jordan), who said it would put “undue restrictions” on the executive branch. “We don’t mandate that the commissioner of education must have an education license. We don’t require that the commissioner of health or a deputy commissioner be licensed in some health arena.”

“All other 49 states have a chief engineer and/or professional engineer within the upper management,” countered Morrow, who previously said the goal was not to change the commissioner’s role, but ensure an engineer is in the department’s upper echelon. Eleven states require their transportation commissioner be an engineer.

Tom Sorel, who was named transportation commissioner by Gov. Tim Pawlenty April 21, has a degree in civil engineering.

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