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Political notebook: Pomeroy holds out for better INS bill

Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., was one of nine members of the U.S. House who voted April 26 against the bill to break up the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., was one of nine members of the U.S. House who voted April 26 against the bill to break up the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

According to spokeswoman Julianne Fisher, "Earl agrees reform is necessary, and there is a bill being crafted in the Senate that should take care of the problem by giving greater power to the coordinating director. The House bill created two bureaus under one agency head, but it inadvertently created a huge loophole that could make an agency in distress even more unlikely to accomplish its goals."

Two Wellstones

Two Paul Wellstones showed up at the Minnesota DFL state convention Friday.

The one most people saw was the one they know from previous conventions -- a fiery orator who can get delegates fired up like no one else. He stood on a stage, not behind a podium, flailing his arms to make point after point, usually about how connected he is with Minnesotans.

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The first Wellstone barely needed a microphone.

When he came down off the stage, however, the second Wellstone emerged. Reporters crowded around him as the convention adjourned for the day, and his voice was so weak it could barely be heard.

Instead of the high-volume speech delegates just heard, the senator spoke quietly about what makes him different from Republican candidate Norm Coleman. Reporters leaned in and strained to hear.

Before leaving the Minneapolis Convention Center, Wellstone said he would not return the next day, when three DFLers were to battle for the party's gubernatorial endorsement. At least he wouldn't return until a victor emerged. He said he learned long ago to avoid such controversial events.

He's their champ

Pomeroy will receive an award Wednesday from the Small Business Council of America for his efforts to improve the qualified retirement benefit plans for small business. He is one of four members of Congress to receive the group's Congressional Award.

Another Moe?

A flier from the Roger Moe for governor campaign brought a smile to many a face during the weekend state DFL convention in Minneapolis.

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"Come loosen up with Roger Moe," the flier told delegates.

The smile came because Moe was the most dour of the candidates. Many DFLers have never seen him in anything but a smartly starched white shirt and suit.

Loosening up

Security measures at the state Capitol in Bismarck after Sept. 11 have been eased substantially in the past two weeks. As a result, the visiting public has fewer obstacles and sees fewer guards.

The Capitol's west door, which leads to the largest parking lot, has been reopened for use by all. Since last fall, it had been accessible only by workers via a card key system.

A bulky hallway security kiosk from which bored Highway Patrol or private security officers watched the north and south entries has been dismantled and put back into storage, and a security officer's station inside the Judicial Wing's entry has also disappeared.

But you still can't drive through the tunnel under the steps to access the west parking lot or drop off passengers. And the new shorter public hours of 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. remain. Before Sept. 11, it was 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Capitol officials say there are still more Highway Patrol troopers watching the Capitol complex than before Sept. 11.

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Larson honored

Sen. Cal Larson, R-Fergus Falls, has received the "Friend of the Taxpayer" award from the conservative Taxpayers League of Minnesota.

The award goes to legislators who vote the way the league likes on tax-related issues. The league supports tax cuts and reducing the size of government.

The league's president, Linda Runbeck, recently upset many rural lawmakers when she said the Legislature should wait until next year to pass a transportation funding package because Twin Cities legislators will have more power after new legislative district lines were drawn.

Metabo-Kent

"Heard on the Hill," a feature of the Washington, D.C., political publication Roll Call ( www.rollcall.com ), found North Dakota Sen. Kent Conrad's appetite extraordinary when it looked at Democratic senators' lunching habits a couple of weeks ago.

In a piece that went on for more than 500 words, the columnist described the lunch orders of 33 senators and found virtually all seemed to be ascetically spare and calorie-conscious. Diet Coke and dry tuna on lettuce dominates and in fact is what Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., had. But Conrad had tuna salad on toasted wheat with lettuce and Swiss cheese, soup, salad, apple pie and regular Coke.

The trim Conrad is always a big eater, spokeswoman Laurie Boeder tells us, noting that road trips to North Dakota include lots of stops to eat. She attributes his big appetite to a high metabolism.

Judge named

Gov. Jesse Ventura picked Assistant Attorney General Natalie Hudson of the Twin Cities as new judge for the Minnesota Appeals Court.

At the same time, he announced he was taking applications until May 13 for two vacancies on the Supreme Court.

Ventura looked decidedly unjudicial while making the announcements, wearing an open-collared shirt and athletic shoes with his sports coat.

Off limits

During first lady Mikey Hoeven's announcement last week of her campaign to curb underage drinking, she was asked how old she was when she first drank.

"This isn't about me," she said.

But among the materials she handed out was a booklet for parents containing advice about the "highly likely" question from kids -- "Mom, Dad, did you drink when you were a kid?"

The booklet advises that parents can choose not to answer the question, as Hoeven did, or admit you did do some drinking as a teen-ager but that it was a mistake.

"Give your teen an example of an embarrassing or painful moment that occurred because of your drinking. This approach may help your child better understand that youthful alcohol use does have negative consequences," it says.

Spotlighted

Sen. Joel Heitkamp, D-Hankinson, is the subject of a long profile article in the April issue of Stateline Midwest, a newsletter of the Midwestern Office of the Council of State Governments. The Senate's assistant minority leader attributes his and his siblings' early activity in politics to his grandmother's loyal service to the Democratic-NPL.

Farm bill on the Web

North Dakota farmers can look a the details of the new farm bill on Sen. Byron Dorgan's Web site (dorgan.senate.gov). It contains a complete text of the bill and a summary of the legislation.

Readers can reach Forum Capitol Correspondents Janell Cole at (701) 224-0830 and Don Davis at (651) 290-0707

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