Ranum to step down at end of 2006 legislative session

State Sen. Jane Ranum, who represents a portion of Southwest, has decided not to seek reelection to the State Legislature.

Ranum, a DFLer, has served in the State Senate since 1990, representing District 63 that includes the city's far southwestern corner, Richfield and east Bloomington.

In a Jan. 25 letter to constituents, Ranum, 58, said she has decided to leave politics at the end of the 2006 legislative session to spend more time with her family. Her husband, Jim, has been diagnosed with a degenerative brain disease that requires ongoing professional care.

She said she's leaving the Senate on an upbeat note, however, citing the DFL's gain of 13 House seats in 2004.

&#8220First, I am optimistic about the Minnesota political climate change and this new generation of DFL legislators,” she wrote. &#8220Here in Senate District 63 we have many talented, committed and progressive Democrats. I am eager to give them an opportunity to use their skills and energy for public service.”

Ranum points to legislation she championed in 1994 that overhauled the state's juvenile justice system as one of her most significant accomplishments while in office.

The reform legislation, recognized by the New York Times in 1999 for being an innovative model in juvenile justice, implemented blended sentencing for youths convicted of crimes. Teens 16 and older convicted of serious crimes, such as murder or rape, faced adult penalties while youths 14 and older convicted of felonies faced the possibility of adult sentences.

She also said she's proud of her work on the state's CriMNet, an information-sharing network for law enforcement agencies, probation officers and judicial officials, among others.

Ranum plans to return to her job as a Hennepin County prosecutor at the end of the session.

&#8220I will begin to clarify what the next stage of my career will be,” she wrote. &#8220I am very eager to begin that part of the journey.”

A number of DFLers have expressed interesting in running for Ranum's Senate seat, including state Rep. Dan Larson of Bloomington and Mark Fiddler, a Minneapolis attorney and party activist, said David Weinlick, the district's DFL chair.