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Special session triggers doubts

Clouds of doubt are floating under the Capitol dome in St. Paul when discussions arise about a Minnesota special legislative session. Some quietly wonder whether political enemies such as Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Democratic Senate Majorit...

Clouds of doubt are floating under the Capitol dome in St. Paul when discussions arise about a Minnesota special legislative session.

Some quietly wonder whether political enemies such as Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Democratic Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller of Minneapolis can agree on a transportation funding package, which would be the focal point if a special session were held.

Others, such as House GOP leader Marty Seifert of Marshall, are not so quiet. Seifert says he expects an influx of money - or at least thinks there is a possibility of one - when economic experts take a close look at state revenues in November.

Pawlenty is considering calling a special session to increase transportation funding. The safety of the state's roads and bridges has become a major discussion topic and many say Minnesota needs to spend $1.7 billion more a year on transportation.

Deadline missed


Forty-nine of 662 lobbyists registered with North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger's office for 2006-07 owe a $25 penalty after missing an Aug. 1 deadline for submitting an annual spending report.

If they haven't sent a report and paid the fee by Oct. 1, the penalty rises to $50 and their lobbying registration is revoked. The report must be filed even if there are no reportable expenditures.

No favorite

Of states with U.S. Senate elections next year, Congressional Quarterly puts Minnesota in the category of "no clear favorite" with just one other state -- and Colorado's Senate seat will have no incumbent.

U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., has said his reelection race will be tough, and the well-known magazine agrees.

"The Democratic candidacy of comedian Al Franken guarantees this race national attention, but the decisive factor may be voters' views of Coleman's positions on President Bush and the Iraq War, both highly unpopular in the state," the magazine reports on its Web site. "Franken has shown campaign and fundraising skills, but faces some competition for the Democratic nod."

Coming up this week

Meeting Tuesday in Bismarck are two legislative committees: the Correctional Facility Review Committee, which will entertain potential consultants to decide what to do about replacing or remodeling the State Penitentiary, and the interim Employee Benefits Programs Committee, which will look at state employee retirement programs and other issues.


Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., has asked Northwest Airline officials to meet with him, representatives of North Dakota cities and other leaders on Wednesday.

Those at the meeting - which is at 1 p.m. in the Pioneer Room at the state Capitol - will discuss "recent flight delay, cancellation and operational problems, as well as other changes in service," according to Dorgan's office.

Times times two

Times newspapers from the coasts last week took in-depth looks at political spats surrounding rebuilding the Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis.

The New York Times story began: "It took all of two weeks for the political unity brought on by a deadly bridge collapse here to fall apart."

The Los Angeles Times reported: "An accelerated schedule for replacing the Interstate 35W bridge through Minneapolis has led state lawmakers and residents to question how plans for a new bridge can move forward before it is clear why the old one fell down."

Not living it down

The publicity about U.S. Rep. Earl Pomeroy's recent notoriety for calling President Bush a "clown" has spread far and wide.


According to a humor blurb published in the Tucson (Ariz.) Citizen, Argus Hamilton, host of the Comedy Store in Hollywood, Calif., joked that Pomeroy "was caught on video calling President Bush a clown. It's very unfair. Ronald McDonald and Bozo would never have been so goofy and zany as to think they could bring democracy to the Middle East."

And one person in the audience at the Blue Flint Energy grand opening event near Underwood, N.D., said last week that she'd considered wearing a clown suit in honor of Pomeroy's gaffe.

Conrad's new aide

A former Bank of North Dakota vice president from the Gov. George Sinner administration is Sen. Kent Conrad's new economic development staffer at Conrad's Bismarck office.

Tim Moore of Bismarck replaces Mylo Candee, who recently retired after 20 years in the position.

Moore has worked for the past 10 years at Eide Bailly as its director of corporate finance, which involved overseeing the accounting firm's division that handles mergers and acquisitions. Before that he was president of The Management Group Inc., which followed his work at the Bank of North Dakota under former President Joe Lamb.

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