From left to right, Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan, Representative Alicia Kozlowski, Senator Mary Kunesh, Representative Jamie Becker-Finn, and Representative Heather Keeler pose for a portrait in the Minnesota State Capitol on January 3, 2023. Credit: Jaida Grey Eagle | Sahan Journal

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The 2023 Minnesota Legislature was sworn in Tuesday, sweeping in the state’s most diverse set of lawmakers ever.

The House and Senate convened at 12 p.m., swearing in many new legislators who were elected last November. At least 35 out of 201 legislators identify as people of color, according to a Sahan Journal count verified by DFL and Republican party leaders. There were 27 lawmakers of color in the 2022 session.

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The Senate also made history by swearing in its first Black women senators. Democrats Erin Maye Quade, Zaynab Mohamed, and Clare Oumou Verbeten won their elections last November by easy margins, becoming the first Black women elected to the Minnesota Senate in 164 years of statehood.

LGBTQ representation also expanded this year. According to the LGBTQ Victory Fund, a national organization that works to elect LGBTQ lawmakers, at least 12* of this year’s state lawmakers belong to the LGBTQ community—a record that will more than double that representation in the Legislature.

https://sahanjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/IMG_6861-1.mov
Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan, Representative Alicia Kozlowski, Senator Mary Kunesh, Representative Jamie Becker-Finn, Representative Heather Keeler, and Representative María Isa Pérez-Vega participate in a round dance in the Minnesota State Capitol rotunda on January 3, 2023. Credit: Jaida Grey Eagle | Sahan Journal

Alicia Kozlowski, the state’s first non-binary lawmaker, and Leigh Finke, the state’s first openly transgender lawmaker, were sworn into the House Tuesday. Kozlowski is also Mexican and Ojibwe.

*UPDATE: This story has been updated to show that the number of LGBTQ lawmakers in the 2023 Minnesota Legislature has increased due to new information.

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Jaida Grey EaglePhotojournalist

Jaida Grey Eagle is an enrolled member of the Oglala Lakota tribe originally from Pine Ridge, South Dakota. She is a photojournalist, producer, beadwork artist, and writer. She is a member of the Women’s...

Becky Z. Dernbach is the education reporter for Sahan Journal. Becky graduated from Carleton College in 2008, just in time for the economy to crash. She worked many jobs before going into journalism, including...

Hibah Ansari is a reporter for Sahan Journal and corps member with Report For America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. She was named the 2022 Young Journalist of...