About Dick Cohen

Dick Cohen grew up and lives in Highland Park. He attended Homecroft School and Highland Park Junior and Senior High Schools, as well as Northwestern University and William Mitchell College of Law. He is a member of the Mt. Zion Temple and formerly served on the boards of the Merriam Park Community Center, Jewish Family Service, the Tyrone Guthrie Theater, and currently serves on the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra Board. He practices law in the St. Paul area.

Dick is currently serving in the Minnesota Senate. He has served as chair of the Senate Finance Committee – the first St. Paul senator in elected leadership since 1980 – and has also served on the Higher Education Budget Division, the Judiciary Budget Division, the Economic Development and Housing Budget Division, the Rules Committee and the Capital Investment Committee.

Honors

Senator Cohen was named by President Obama in November 2009 to serve as a member of the President’s Committee on Arts and the Humanities.

In 2010, Senator Cohen received the Big Standing Ovation Award from the Minnesota Citizens for the Arts for his lifetime achievements in Minnesota. He also received the 1999 Nonprofit Allies Award from the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits Association, the 1998 U.S. Bank/Ordway Theater Sally Irvine Award for Commitment to the Arts, the 2002 Minnesota Legal Services Coalition Pro Bono Publico Award, and the 2005 University of Minnesota Alumni Association Legislator of the Year among many other awards and honors.

Dick was one of the original inductees into the Highland Park Senior High School Hall of Fame.

Finance Chairman

In 2002, Dick was elected as the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, thereby becoming the first St. Paul Senator in the elected leadership since State Senator Nick Coleman, and I continued this service until the 2010 election.

Legislative Activities

-Organizer, original State Senate Pro-Choice Caucus
-Founder and Organizer, Legislative Arts Caucus
-Former Chair, National Conference on State Legislatures: Arts, Tourism and Cultural Resources Committee
-Former President, National Association of Jewish Legislators
-Former National Policy Board Member, Americans for the Arts
-Former Member; Tax Study Commission, Children’s Trust Fund Developmental Disability Study Commission, Children’s Issue Council

Recent Legislation 2007-Present

Constitutional Amendment- This year Dick introduced a constitutional amendment that would require a two-thirds majority of both bodies of the state legislature to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot.
Unallotment- At the start of the 2010 legislative session, Dick authored legislation correcting and modifying the unallotment authority of the Governor as a response to Governor Pawlenty’s unwarranted use of the allotment statue, which went far beyond the scope of its original legislative intent.
Housing Solutions Act- Dick was the chief author of legislation that sought to provide new resources dedicated to low-income rental assistance, affordable housing rehabilitation and production, and a new local housing incentive fund. This legislation would have decreased the deed tas by .17% to raise revenue for housing and homelessness programs. Dick first introduced this legislation in 2005 and again in 2007, and he was able to pass the bill off the Senate floor.
University of Minnesota- Dick successfully authored the University’s request to secure funding for its biomedical sciences research facilities.
Ordway- Dick authored the previous biennium’s bonding request to renovate the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts.
Stem Cell Legislation- In 2003, 2005, and 2007, Dick offered legislation to give the University of Minnesota state support in their stem cell research. Although this legislation was vetoed by Governor Pawlenty, it stimulated discussion within the legislature regarding the need to support this significant research not only for its potential to save lives but for the enormous economic development potential this research has for our state.
Arts and Environment- Dick co-authored the successful constitutional amendment for dedicated funding for natural and cultural resource purposes. He originated and initiated the arts and culture section of the amendment.
Budget Reform- Dick authored the legislation to include inflation in the state budget revenue forecast, as well as the legislation implementing the reforms of the Budget Trend Study Commission, which he established. This legislation passed the legislature but was vetoed by Governor Pawlenty.
ERA- Dick was the chief author of the State Equal Rights Amendment in 1987, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1995, and 2007.