Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.
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ST. PAUL - A Minnesota Republican and a Wisconsin Democrat want a federal law encouraging local ownership of plant-based fuel refineries such as those producing ethanol and biodiesel. Sen.
ST. PAUL - Gov. Tim Pawlenty may face problems from some northeastern Minnesota lawmakers in getting a new park in their area. For instance, the proposed state park on Lake Vermillion received a cool response from House Majority Leader Tony Sertich. The Chisholm Democrat said he would prefer to see dollars invested in the Iron Range area going to job creation. "I've got great state parks all around my district," Sertich said, adding that a new one should not take top priority. Not all area lawmakers object. Sen.
Helping Minnesota employers find qualified workers will be a priority of the new Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system board chairman. That should be no surprise since David Olson is president of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce. "Employers of all types and sizes are increasingly challenged to find qualified workers," Olson said. "Minnesota's higher education system is a valuable resource for employers." "The Minnesota Chamber and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system share similar priorities," Olson said.
FORT McCOY, Wis. - Minnesota's 2,600 National Guard soldiers returning from Iraq faced a full schedule of lectures, medical tests and other tasks preparing for civilian life before being allowed to head home. But of all the experts they heard during the week-plus stay at Fort McCoy, the best advice may have come from their boss, Maj. Gen. Rick Erlandson. "I'm going to ask you, as you go home, to go slow," the general told his troops. "Take it one step at a time. One hour at a time. A week at a time. A month at a time.
ST. PAUL - National Guard soldiers coming home from Iraq receive nation-leading mental and physical care, Minnesota's veterans' affairs commissioner said, but he worries that other soldiers are not as lucky. Clark Dyrud said thousands of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, part of the active military and reserve units, are not getting the same help. And they can feel ignored. "How about the guy who has come back, fought in an infantry unit, and goes home to Ada?" Dyrud asked.
VOLK FIELD, Wis. - Spec. Dustin Isaak left no doubt what he thought about spending 22 months away from home: "It is too long to be away from your family." The Thief River Falls National Guard soldier's feeling is like many who have arrived lately from Iraq at a western Wisconsin airfield. "There were some days sitting there in the heat thinking, 'I should be home with my family,'" Isaak added. The commander of units from Bemidji and Detroit Lakes, Capt. Adam Gilbertson, said if he knew then what he knows know, his feelings about deployment might have been different back in 2005 when Gov.
VOLK FIELD, Wis. - Sgt. Mark Hilleren admitted to being emotional when the DC-10 landed Tuesday at a western Wisconsin air base. "It's good to finally be home, to touch down in the states, to see trees, grass and everything else," the Duluth soldier said. And next up for Hilleren?
Arizona Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign is struggling, and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty admits there are problems. "Obviously, it has not gone as well as he had hoped," McCain's national co-chairman said on WDAY radio's "Hot Talk." Pawlenty said he still thinks McCain would be a good president and offered hope that he can "restart" the campaign. The governor may have a big title, but Pawlenty said his co-chairmanship "is really a ceremonial job." His only role has been to fill in when McCain cannot speak at an event, about once a month, Pawlenty added.
The prospects for a Minnesota special legislative session this year are dim. "Everybody agrees we're not going to have one unless all the caucus leaders and all the caucuses agree, and they don't," Gov. Tim Pawlenty told reporters. The GOP governor said he has met with legislative leaders and individual lawmakers, but there is not consensus on what issues would be addressed if he called a special session.
A new blog boasts accomplishments of Minnesota's Republican governor, Tim Pawlenty. The blog, www.partyofpawlenty.com , touts "one of the conservative movement and Republican Party's most significant new voices," said one of its authors, Chris Tiedeman. If you visit, expect rhetoric like this Tiedeman comment: "Some say great leaders are defined by their time; by a particular moment in history. Others say great leaders transcend their time. Tim Pawlenty does both." Pawlenty often is mentioned as a national candidate in 2008 or 2012.