Henry Kalis

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Henry J. Kalis
Member of the Minnesota House of Representatives
from the 30A, 29B, 26B district
In office
January 7, 1975 – January 6, 2003
Preceded by Dale Erdahl
Succeeded by Tony Cornish
Personal details
Born March 2, 1937
Walters, Minnesota
Political party Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party
Spouse(s) Violet
Children 4
Residence Walters, Minnesota
Occupation farmer, legislator, veteran
Religion Catholic

Henry J. Kalis (born March 2, 1937) was a Minnesota politician and is a former member of the Minnesota House of Representatives from southern Minnesota. First elected in 1974, Kalis was re-elected every two years until he opted not to seek re-election in 2002. A Democrat, he represented the old Districts 30A and 29B and, later, 26B, which included all or portions of Blue Earth, Faribault, Freeborn, Martin and Waseca counties, changing somewhat through redistricting in 1980 and 1990. He was, along with senators Dennis Frederickson, Earl Renneke and Jim Vickerman, and representatives Gilbert Esau and Wendell Erickson, one of the longest-serving legislators from southern Minnesota in the state's history.[1]

Background[edit]

From the town of Walters, Kalis was a farmer by profession. He served in the United States Army and in the Minnesota National Guard (Company A, 147th Division) before becoming active locally as a town treasurer and a township board member. He later served as a commissioner on the Faribault County Board before opting to run for the Minnesota House in 1974.

Legislative experience and leadership[edit]

While in the legislature, Kalis earned a reputation as a conservative Democrat,[2] and was a champion for farmers and agricultural issues, and for transportation issues. He served on the House Agriculture, Appropriations, Capital Investment, Economic Development, Education, Environment & Natural Resources, Financial Institutions & Insurance, Health & Human Services, Judiciary, Local & Urban Affairs, Regulated Industries, Transportation, and Ways & Means committees, and on various other committee incarnations and subcommittees.

Kalis was chair of the House Transportation Committee from 1987–1992, and of the House Capital Investment Committee from 1993-1998. He also served as chair of numerous subcommittees through the years (Agriculture Subcommittee: Soil and Water Resources ; Appropriations Subcommittee: Agriculture, Transportation & Semi-State Division; Appropriations Subcommittee: Joint Claims; Local and Urban Affairs Subcommittee: Governmental Administration; and Transportation Subcommittee: Trunk Highways).[1]

Kalis earned the distinction of being the first legislative candidate to file for office each year that he ran, often arriving at the Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office in Saint Paul early the morning of or even later in the day before the opening date for filing. His reason for doing this was, simply: “I enjoy this job and I think when you like something you should show people you like it.”[2][3]

Retirement[edit]

In 2002, Kalis opted to retire from the House, feeling that the time was right, but adding that it was “hardest decision” he has made.[2] He had served his constituents for 28 years, and had been first in line at the Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office 14 times. In retirement of sorts, he continues to farm near Walters.

References[edit]

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