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Capitol Chatter: Klobuchar wants tax credits extended

ST. PAUL -- U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., wants to extend tax credits for biofuels such as ethanol and other alternative source.

"From biofuels to wind power to solar energy, alternative energy industries are creating good jobs and boosting local economies across Minnesota," Klobuchar said. "Extending these critical tax credits will help strengthen our state's clean energy businesses so they can continue to grow and thrive."

Klobuchar and others wrote a letter to Senate leaders asking that the tax credits be prevented from expiring.

Small businesses

Small Minnesota businesses may get financial and technical help under a new program that focuses on aiding firms to increase foreign sales.

More than $450,000 is available, the Department of Employment and Economic Development says.

The Minnesota Trade Office and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture will use the money to prepare companies that are not now exporting their products to get into foreign markets.

"The revenue and jobs that exports create here at home are extremely important to Minnesota's economic health and well-being," said DEED Commissioner Mark Phillips. "Last year, state exports of manufactured goods, agricultural commodities and services totaled $31 billion and were responsible for an estimated 115,000 jobs."

In coming months, state officials plan to lead trade missions to India, China, Germany, Russia and Canada. The big trip is to be a Gov. Mark Dayton-led China trade mission in the spring or summer, making up for one he canceled due to this year's budget dispute.

No insider trading

A Minnesota lawmaker wants to stop Minnesota legislators from using any inside knowledge to gain money.

Rep. Joe Atkins, DFL-Inver Grove Heights, said he plans to introduce legislation to prohibit state insider trading.

While a similar debate rages in Congress, Atkins said he has heard of no problem in Minnesota but wants to make sure.

"I think our constituents would be shocked to find out we can take confidential information gained at the Capitol and use it to make money in the stock market or on land deals if we want to," Atkins said. "Right now, it is perfectly legal under Minnesota law, and there is nothing in our ethics rules to prevent it either."

Senators can joke

Sen. Doug Magnus was in front of the Capitol press corps praising the state's new-found status of being free of bovine tuberculosis when he decided he needed to explain that he understands cattle.

"I fed cattle all my life until I had a temporary loss of senses and ran for office," the Slayton Republican said.

That followed by a day Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, telling a Senate committee: "It was a little tough getting out of the deer stand and come down here."

Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.

Don Davis
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.