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Don Davis, Published September 14 2009

Political notebook: Minnesota public works projects aim to boost jobs

ST. PAUL – The Minnesota House Capitol Investment Committee has started its tour of potential public works projects.

A similar Senate committee also is making such a tour, looking over an expected $3 billion in requests to fund items ranging from new passenger rail lines to fixing college buildings’ roofs.

The House committee chairwoman said such public works projects, funded by the state selling bonds, will help create jobs.

“Jump-starting Minnesota’s economy remains our highest priority in both the short and long term,” Rep. Alice Hausman, DFL-St. Paul, said. “While it’s encouraging that 10,000 jobs were created in Minnesota last month – the most in over a year and many as a result of the bonding bill we passed this spring – we still have a long way to go for Minnesota to regain a firm footing in this weakened economy.”

On Wednesday, the committee met in the Twin Cities to discuss rail and transit. It heads to northeastern Minnesota on Oct. 6-8, the southeast Oct. 15-16, central and southwestern Minnesota Oct. 20-22 and the Twin Cities area Nov. 9-10. Committee members already visited the northwest to discuss flood prevention needs.

Good pork news

Federal food programs will spend $30 million to buy additional pork for school lunch and other uses, which drew applause from farm-state politicians representing pork producers who are struggling financially.

“Through no fault of their own, hog farmers across my state and the country are facing some of the lowest prices in years,” Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., said. “This announced purchase is going to deliver safe and nutritious pork to needy families. The government is getting a good value for our money, and families are going to get much needed protein in their diet.”

Franken said the federal purchase will not cure pork problems, but said it is a good first step.

The senator said he will encourage China to resume importing Minnesota pork.

Women vet summit

Women with military connections will gather Oct. 16 and 17.

The Minnesota Veterans Affairs Department is sponsoring the event for female military veterans, military spouses and others in the community connected with the military.

“For some it’s not always easy to reach out for support or a helping hand,” the department’s announcement said, and Military Women’s Summit at the Ramada Inn Mall of America is designed to provide some help.

Speakers include a home-loan expert and state and federal veterans affairs representatives.

The event is free, but registration is required at www.mdva.state.mn.us/

women/summit2009.htm or (651) 296-2562.

Hunger solutions

Governor candidates hungry for votes will be part of the Hunger Solutions Minnesota summit next month.

Candidates Marty Seifert, David Hann, Tom Emmer, John Marty, Mark Dayton, Tom Bakk, Paul Thissen and Margaret Anderson Kelliher have agreed to attend the Oct. 14 meeting that will feature well-known Washington journalist Cokie Roberts speaking on the importance of fighting hunger.

The candidate forum will follow Roberts’ lunch talk.

The fundraising event will be at the River Centre Ballroom in downtown St. Paul.

More information is available at www.hungersolutions.org or (651) 789-9843.

Davis works for Forum Communications Co., which owns The Forum. He can be reached at (651) 290-0707 or ddavis@forumcomm.com