Minnesota state Senator Julianne Ortman (R-Chanhassen) co-authored legislation today to limit the sale of ammunition in Minnesota. She joined Sens. Ron Latz, Scott Dibble and Bobby Joe Champion, all Democrats from the Minneapolis area.
When Republicans held a legislative majority from 2011 to 2013, Sen. Ortman was the party's deputy majority leader in the Senate. When Republicans returned to the minority, Ortman became the ranking minority member on the Senate Taxes Committee. Membership on the Tax Committee is highly valued and reserved for leadership's favorite members. It positions legislators who want to hand out pork to do so with zest.
Given Ortman's status in the Senate's hierarchy, her actions could be considered an indicator of how Senate Republican leadership wants to deal with the gun issue. If leadership decides to strip Ortman of her plum committee assignment, it will indicate that her defection was not sanctioned by her party.
On the other hand, if Democrats pass gun control legislation with Ortman as the sole Republican vote, it will still be sufficient to declare the legislation bipartisan. Using Ortman as a tool to that end may be just what Republicans want, and it seems like the more plausible scenario.