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It took state Sen. Gen Olson, 70, more than 44 years, 1 month and 12 days to get her ideas to the State Capitol. Talk about a long wait.

But with the Minnetrista Republican's help, two bright-eyed 11-year-olds from Minnetonka could have a bill designating ice hockey as the official state sport on the books in St. Paul this spring.

Hannah Ehresmann and Brendan Broviak, both sixth-graders at Minnetonka Middle School East, stood alongside Olson on Wednesday as members of the Senate's State and Local Government Operations and Oversight Committee listened to testimony on the bill.

"One of the best reasons hockey should be our state sport is because Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes and they all freeze up to make great hockey rinks," Brendan told the senators. "I believe Gov. [Tim] Pawlenty plays some hockey of his own."

The room erupted with appreciative laughter.

Afterward Olson and other adults, including State Sen. David Tomassoni, DFL-Chisholm, and Mark Jorgensen of the Minnesota Hockey Association spoke in support of the bill. It has garnered bipartisan support in both houses of the Legislature.

Hannah was more laid back in her arguments, but no less formidable than Brendan. They spent months collecting more than 600 signatures in support of the proposal.

"I would definitely encourage other kids to try this," Hannah said.

After the hearing Wednesday, the committee voted unanimously to send the bill to the Senate floor. Olson said she is committed to turning it into a law and will keep her eye on the proposal as it progresses through both houses.

Patrice Relerford • 612-673-4395