March 10 - BAKK SHEPHERDS TOMASSONI'S ALS BILL - PASSING 67-0
A flyer with the likeness of Sen. David Tomassoni was taped to a panel in the Senate’s retiring room and handwritten at the bottom it says, “The Famous Tomassoni”. It was left there after the Senate adjourned the 2015 session and the restoration of the Capitol building would begin. Several years later Sen. Tomassoni was diagnosed with ALS - Lou Gerhig’s disease. In the 2022 session Sen. Tomassoni authored SF3372 that would provide $20 million in funding for ALS research and $5 million to aid the caregiving efforts for families. His friend and the other member of the Independent Caucus, Sen. Tom Bakk would shepherd the bill through the legislative process to get it passed.
Sen. Tom Bakk listened as members told of their encounters with Sen. Tomassoni as a House and Senate member over the years before a vote on the bill. One member told of going to Sen. Tomassoni’s office and admiring the coffee mug on his desk that said, “President of the Senate”. Without skipping a beat Sen. Tomassoni reached down into a box and gave the visiting senator one of the mugs saying, “I have hundreds of the these. Have one.” Sen. Tomassoni is the only minority member in the history of Minnesota to be elected President of the Senate.
Sen. Bakk most of the time rested a hand on the arm of Sen. Tomassoni’s chamber desk chair as if touching the arm of his good friend and fellow member of the Independent Caucus to reassure him that he would get his bill passed.
When it came time for final words about Sen. Tomassoni’s bill, Sen. Bakk presented the bill on Sen. Tomassoni’s behalf telling members, “This isn’t a vote for Sen. Tomassoni. This is a vote for people we don’t know.”
Sen. Bakk watched as the Senate voted on the bill holding the arm of Sen. Tomassoni’s chamber chair.
Sen. Bakk made the sixty-seventh vote by request of Sen Tomassoni. The Senate unanimously passed the Tomassoni ALS Research Funding bill 67-0.
During a brief recess to show their respect for Sen. Tomassoni, senators gave a standing ovation and recognized the son of Sen. Tomassoni, Dante, in the gallery.
Dante Tomassoni standing in the gallery acknowledged the senators’ ovation and the passage of the bill.
Sen. Bakk and Dante Tomassoni share a light moment looking at some memorabilia collected by Sen Tomassoni over the years. One was a newspaper front page photo of both Bakk and Tomassoni where the two inch high headline reads “Bakk Leads DFL Caucus” and in the sub headline underneath it reads, “Tomassoni Could Follow.”