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Political notebook: Vietnam vets program planned for June 13

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news Willmar, 56201

Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

ST. PAUL -- On this Memorial Day weekend, the Minnesota Veterans' Affairs Department is beginning to take online registration for a June 13 celebration to honor Vietnam-era veterans.

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Veterans organizations hope to attract people from across the state to the state Capitol grounds to honor Vietnam era veterans.

Registration is optional, but the department asks veterans to sign upat www.mnhonorsvietnamvets.org/registration or call 651-296-2562 by June 10. Veterans who register will receive a lapel pin when checking in on June 13.

The free event, which is open to anyone, will feature a 2 p.m. program, along with flyovers throughout the day, music from the period, Vietnam memorabilia, food and a replica of the National Vietnam Memorial.

Vet medical bill

Veterans returning home could find jobs as paramedics under a bill introduced by U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Mike Enzi, R-Wyo.

The Veterans-to-Paramedics Transition Act would streamline civilian paramedic training for returning vets who obtained some military medical experience.

"When they signed up to serve there wasn't a waiting line and when they come home and need health care or a job, there shouldn't be a waiting line," Klobuchar said. "Today, we have an abundance of returning veterans who have significant medical training and experience. They're an ideal talent pool to relieve the severe shortage of emergency medical personnel in rural communities."

When veterans return to civilian life, their military medical training does not count toward civilian paramedic certification.

Unallotment politics

Gov. Tim Pawlenty has not said whether he will seek a third term in 2010, and Capitol observers wonder whether the governor's plan to cut spending on his own would hurt his chances at the ballot box.

In a meeting with reporters, Pawlenty sounded as though he is confident that Minnesotans agree with his decision to cut spending in a process known as unallotment rather than continue fighting with Democratic lawmakers over the budget in legislative overtime.

"The No. 1 response I get as I've been around Minnesota, at least the last few days, anecdotally is: 'Thank goodness we're not having a stupid special session, thank goodness we're not having a stupid (government) shutdown and thank you, governor, for taking the bull by the horns and getting this thing dealt with.'"

Pawlenty said he expects to catch heat for unilaterally chopping and delaying state spending $2.7 billion.

"Anytime you go out and reduce spending to balance the budget, that's going to be controversial," he said.

But Pawlenty said the unallotment process to be undertaken in the next several weeks will not delay his announcement on whether he will seek another four years as governor.

So is he running for a third term?

"I'll let you know shortly," he said.

Dairy help

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will help dairy farmers suffering from record-low prices.

U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., thanked Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack for the decision to use the Dairy Export Incentive Program to provide payments to dairy exporters.

"Dairy farmers across the country are struggling to survive because of low prices and too much product on the market, and DEIP is an important tool that we can use to manage surplus and support producers," said Peterson, House Agriculture Committee chairman.

DeLaForest joins

Former state Rep. Chris DeLaForest of Andover next month becomes Gov. Tim Pawlenty's director of legislative and Cabinet affairs.

Ironically, DeLaForest was a prime mover behind a bill to allow terminally ill patients to use marijuana to ease their pain. Pawlenty long has opposed the bill and vetoed it late in the week.

In another move, Annie Paruccini, Pawlenty's director of board and commission appointments, will transfer to the state's Washington, D.C., office. She is a University of North Dakota graduate.

Journal on gov.

The Wall Street Journal late in the week gave its take on Gov. Tim Pawlenty's decision to unilaterally cut the state's budget:

"'Minnesota nice" comes in two forms: the first, gracious hospitality; the second, smiling stubbornness. Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty this week delivered his spendthrift Legislature a humiliating taste of the latter. "You betcha."

The Journal reported that Pawlenty "outmaneuvered his Democratic opposition. ... To fill in the hole they'd blown in the upcoming fiscal budget the DFL then proceeded to float every tax hike known to Garrison Keillor."

Bureau smaller

The rough spot in the economy that has forced many newspapers to lay off workers visited the Forum Communications Co. Minnesota Capitol Bureau.

Scott Wente no longer is with the bureau after his job was eliminated for economic reasons.

He has been in the bureau full time only since 2006, but a media blogger recently called him a seasoned veteran.

Wente also covered two legislative sessions for Forum Communications newspapers, in 2005 and 2006, while working for the Red Wing Republican Eagle.

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