Karen Minnis
  • Legislative Assistant, 1986-1998.
  • Oregon State Representative, 1998-2001.
  • House Majority Leader, 2001-2003.
  • Speaker of the House, 2003-2007.

About Speaker Minnis

Karen Minnis grew up in Portland and attended Clark Community College. She had no aspirations to become an elected official, but her husband John Minnis did. In 1986, she went to work in Salem as his legislative assistant, learning the ropes of that job as well as how to be a legislator’s wife.

In 1998, Republican Party leaders approached Karen to run for office when John, and many others, were restricted by term limits. She ran and won, becoming the representative from District 49, which includes Troutdale, Wood Village and a portion of east Multnomah County. Her election allowed her to continue projects begun with John and to work on issues important to her.

Leadership roles—House Majority Leader (2001) and Speaker of the House (2003-2005)—gave Minnis the ability to shape the legislative agenda. However, those were dire economic years across Oregon. She recalls that the state budget, “was the prevailing issue at that period of time. You didn’t have as much time to work on policy because we were so caught up in just trying to manage the budget.”

Following her final term in office in 2007, Minnis became a lobbyist, giving her one additional perspective on the legislative process. She believes strongly that: “Legislators have sacrificed to serve….and your family is part of that. Families of legislators are not appreciated enough, because it’s just not just that member that makes that sacrifice.”

– Interview recorded January 15, 2019