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Not an ordinary 'no'; and other state briefs

ST. PAUL - One headline said Gov. Tim Pawlenty "declined" an invitation to meet with current and former governors and legislative leaders. Another said he "rejected" the idea.

It was more like he tore up the invitation into little bits and threw it away. Then burned it. And buried the ashes. Figuratively, at least.

Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller and House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, both Minneapolis Democrats, invited Pawlenty and all former governors, majority leaders and speakers to a summit to discuss economic woes the state faces. Governors other than Pawlenty and Jesse Ventura accepted.

The current governor saw no need for such a meeting.

"The state already has an annual 'Minnesota Leadership Summit,'" Pawlenty wrote to Pogemiller and Kelliher. "It's called the legislative session and it last approximately five months. This past year, rather than taking timely and decisive action to deal with our budget deficit, the Legislature's DFL leadership wasted the first few months of the session. Passage of your final budget bills in the last few minutes before midnight on the final day of the session was indicative of how you managed the situation."

Pawlenty, a Republican, said Democratic-Farmer-Labor legislative leaders should concentrate on "coming up with reasonable solutions, negotiating with my administration, passing bills and having them signed into law."

In setting up the summit, tentatively planned for next month, Pogemiller said it could find solutions to state budget problems and the Legislature next year could use them to adjust the budget.

Pro-nuke group forms

A diverse coalition of organizations has formed a pro-nuclear energy group.

Known as Sensible Energy Solutions for Minnesota, the non-profit group will fight for overturning the state's ban on new nuclear power plants. It draws together business, labor and environmental organizations.

"While states from South Carolina to Maryland are looking forward and considering 21st century designs and other new nuclear power technologies, Minnesota is marching steadily toward a shortage of base-load electricity," said Minnesota Chamber of Commerce President David Olson, who sits on the new group's board. "As we look ahead, we must put nuclear power - the most sensible and carbon-free base-load electricity source in existence - back on the table as an energy option."

Rukavina has plans

Rep. Tom Rukavina, DFL-Virginia, says he still is just exploring running for Minnesota governor, but talk to him about it and it becomes obvious that he is more than just looking into it.

He said he intends to get his party's endorsement at next year's state convention.

"I plan on staying in this race," he said. "I'm still hoping moxy is worth a million bucks."

About a dozen people are in the Democratic race or thinking about getting in.

Fighting lyme

Several Minnesota state lawmakers are promoting legislation designed to fight the sometimes-deadly lyme disease and give doctors the ability to more aggressively great it.

"Right now Minnesota doctors who prescribe long-term treatment for diagnosed chronic lyme disease patients risk being penalized with medical board sanctions," said Rep. John Persell, DFL-Bemidji. "But these treatments work, helping lyme disease patients recover and reclaim a normal life.

Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville, said he supports more research on the disease.

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection caused by the bite of an infected deer tick.

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.