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Don Davis, Forum News Service, Published February 05 2012

Minnesota Political Notebook: GOP says that Dayton rejected appointees, too

ST. PAUL - Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton’s stinging criticism of Senate Republicans last Monday, saying they are “not fit to govern,” still hurt as the week ended.

Senate Republicans’ Monday firing of a Dayton appointee drew the governor’s sharp remarks. They said former Sen. Ellen Anderson is too strongly opposed to energy sources such as coal and nuclear to serve as an energy regulator in the Public Utilities Commission chairwoman’s job.

On Friday, Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, rebutted Dayton and released a list of 38 votes then-U.S. Sen. Dayton cast against President George W. Bush’s judicial, Cabinet and other appointments.

Dayton spokeswoman Katharine Tinucci said that while he understands the Senate has the constitutional right to reject his appointments, when Dayton was in the U.S. Senate he always “clearly voiced his objections.”

Only one Minnesota senator argued against Anderson, with another answering some questions a Democrat asked.

Tinucci said Dayton’s main complaint about the Anderson vote remains that her support of clean energy is not extreme, as Republicans claim.

“To not confirm a governor’s appointment is difficult,” Senjem said, predicting senators would approve other commissioners.

But moments later, Senjem said two other Dayton appointees are on a Senate GOP “watch list:” Pollution Control Commissioner Paul Aasen and Health Commissioner Edward Ehlinger.

Even with his rebuke of Dayton’s comments, Senjem said the dust-up should not affect the rest of the legislative session.

“We’ll get over it,” Senjem said. “We have thick skin. ... We are not in a vengeance mode.”

Farmer in D.C.

A Granite Falls-area farmer is back home after representing the National Farmers Union in a Washington, D.C., federal budget discussion.

Yellow Medicine County Farmers Union President Tim Velde met with other general farm and commodity organizations about the budget, appropriations and farm policy.

“Agriculture groups are willing to work with House and Senate staff in order to get the farm bill passed (this year), as well as do our part in deficit reduction,” he said.

Many in agriculture say they fear federal budget talks will result in cuts to various farm programs. The meeting Velde attended was meant to bring most farm groups to the table.

China trade mission

Dayton has rescheduled his China trade mission, postponed last year as he and legislators faced a budget impasse.

Dayton’s Minnesota Trade Office is accepting applications for the June 8-17 trip. The estimated cost is about $8,000 a person.

Those on the trade mission will visit government and business leaders in Shanghai, Beijing and Xian to explore ways to increase trade and investments.

Health cuts coming?

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar said she fears federal budget cuts could hurt rural communities’ health programs.

“Our nation’s strength is anchored in our rural communities, the cities and towns that grow our crops, produce our food and power our homegrown energy supply,” the Minnesota Democrat said. “We cannot afford to balance the budget on the backs of rural communities. ...”

In a speech to the National Rural Health Association Policy Institute, Klobuchar said that she worked to keep funding to rural ambulance services and other programs in earlier short-term bills. Now, she said, they need to retain funding in the next budget.

Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.