This month, Minnesota House of Representatives researcher Jim Cleary will retire from his position after nearly 36 years of service to the State of Minnesota. I met Jim during my first term in the Minnesota Legislature in 2007 working on veteran’s issues, but some of my colleagues have known him for much longer. All who have worked with Jim agree he is a smart, dedicated patriot who always sought to bring clarity and depth to our discussions as lawmakers.
Jim Cleary was hired by the Minnesota House Research Department in April 1978 to provide statistical rigor to the policy analysis provided to the Legislature. Over the years, Jim has worked on numerous analytical projects and surveys dealing with highway speeds, motorcycle helmet use, rural hospitals, property assessment sales ratios, DWI, criminal sentencing, and local government joint powers, as well as aiding in the early development of House Research computer modeling capabilities, including working on the property tax, LGA and income tax models.
Beginning in 1991, Jim shifted his focus to providing more direct analysis to legislators, first through staffing the Veterans Affairs committee which he brought personal experience to as a Vietnam veteran. Later, he joined the judiciary team where he became a recognized expert on the subjects of DWI and firearms law.
Jim has provided expertise to members and, at their behest, various interest groups in developing many of the veterans bills that passed the Legislature and were signed into law during the last seven sessions, helping Minnesota to become a more veteran-friendly state. Jim has continued to produce numerous memos and publications in his subject areas over the years, including the report, “Firearms Laws in Minnesota: A Guide for Legislators,” which won a 2013 notable document award from the National Council of State Legislatures.
More personally, Jim has shared his love of the outdoors and hunting with his colleagues through stories about camping, encounters with bears, getting lost in the mountains; hunting trips with other legislative staff; and an endless and appreciated supply of venison meatballs at office functions.
After 36 years of hard work on various legislative topics, Jim is taking a well deserved retirement to spend time with Trish, his wife of 43 years, and their children and grandchildren and traveling. Thank you, Jim, and God Bless.