- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 16, 2014

MANKATO, Minn. (AP) - Freshman legislators heading to St. Paul next month will be jumping into a complicated world with lots to learn about process and protocol.

Fortunately for them, training retreats offer tips that range from how to speak to other members to learning not to take debate personally. Earlier this month, a group of 25 freshmen legislators attended a three-day retreat co-organized by Rep. Kathy Brynaert of Mankato.

The training not only helps incoming lawmakers learn how a bill becomes law, but also eases the transition from candidate to lawmaker, Brynaert said. It allows the freshmen legislators to replace the election mentality with one of mutual respect and civility, she said.

Brynaert has been a part of the four-person team that helps prep the freshmen legislators for session since 2008, The (Mankato) Free Press (https://bit.ly/1DGu6Pn ) reported.

Freshman legislators begin their training a few days after election with a one-day orientation. Family members are also encouraged to attend so they can see firsthand where their relatives will spend much of the session.

In early December, the lawmakers-elect head to the retreat at a Chaska hotel, where they bunk together and spend three days immersed in their new lives as legislators. The retreat organizers try to pair members of opposing parties to encourage a sense of camaraderie.

Throughout the retreat, the freshman legislators participate in classroom-type lectures, panel discussions, interactive lessons and ice-breakers to help them get better acquainted.

Mankato Rep.-elect Jack Considine, who will be taking Brynaert’s seat, said the training retreat is an effective way to help prepare incoming lawmakers for what’s to come.

“A freshman legislator coming in without some of the guidance they’ve been providing would be lost,” he said.

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Information from: The Free Press, https://www.mankatofreepress.com


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