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MINNESOTA POLITICS: Pols all a-Twitter about tweeting .. more

Pols all a-Twitter about tweeting ST. PAUL -- The Twitter short-message electronic networking system is becoming popular among politicians, many of whom now send tweets. A message from House Majority Leader Tony Sertich, DFL-Chisholm, tweaked pol...

Pols all a-Twitter about tweeting

ST. PAUL -- The Twitter short-message electronic networking system is becoming popular among politicians, many of whom now send tweets.

A message from House Majority Leader Tony Sertich, DFL-Chisholm, tweaked politicians who visit Iowa for presidential support.

"A MN politician in Iowa for all the right reasons ... visiting family," he wrote while seeing his wife's family.

Then, there was Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who may soon send tweets from Iowa himself while running for president: "Wrenched back playing hockey. Thankful for chiropractor. Getting old, but in the spirit of season of Lord Stanley's Cup, will play hurt."

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Rep. Paul Gardner, DFL-Shoreview, isn't Twittering anymore. During debate on the House floor near the end of the session he used Twitter to question speeches by Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Delano: "Emmer seems to belittle his female colleagues (rage, sarcasm) on the floor more than the men."

And he went after Rep. Mark Buesgens, R-Jordan, who was wearing sunglasses in the House chamber: "Black eye?"

The House Ethics Committee ordered Gardner to apologize to the pair on the House floor.

House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, DFL-Minneapolis, has tweeted while on duty, but also while away from the Capitol. Just hours after a long last day of session, she wrote: "Just finished Barton School Spring Concert -- and stayed awake."

MnDOT goals

The Minnesota Department of Transportation reports it is meeting most of its goals, such as reducing traffic fatalities, improving bridges and reducing Twin Cities congestion. But better roads continues to be a priority, MnDOT said in a new report.

"Upgrading state highway pavement condition remains both a priority and a challenge," the report says. "It may be boosted somewhat by the influx of federal economic stimulus dollars from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act."

Another issue that needs to be addressed, the report adds, is better bus service to communities outside the Twin Cities.

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"Service increased from 2000 to 2007, but at 1.03 million hours, it remains well short of the target of 1.4 million hours to meet 80 percent of need in 2010," the report said about greater Minnesota bus service.

Overall, the state transportation commissioner was happy. "Setting goals and measuring results will help us build a better transportation system for Minnesota," Tom Sorel said. "This performance report is one important step in meeting Minnesotans' expectations of transparency and accountability."

The report is at www.dot.state.mn.us/measures/performancereports.html .

Charter reform?

Minnesota legislators likely will look at bills increasing the accountability of charter schools.

Recent reports of a Minneapolis charter school worker stealing $1 million will increase the efforts, said Rep. John Lesch, DFL-St. Paul.

"In these challenging economic times, with public schools across the state facing tighter budgets, we owe it to the taxpayers of Minnesota to make sure public education dollars are being spent to educate our kids," Lesch said. "The troubling news ... confirms that under current law, this isn't happening."

Lesch failed to persuade fellow lawmakers this year to change charter school laws, so he will return with proposals next year to tighten regulations.

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Attention, wonks

For anyone who did not get enough of the 2009 Minnesota Legislature already, the House Public Information Office has a treat.

The year's final edition of Session Weekly looks back at the session. It is available on line at www.house.leg.state.mn.us/sessionweekly .

Environment views

A coalition of environmental groups in Minnesota is asking candidates for governor what they would do to protect the environment.

The Minnesota Environmental Partnership is holding the candidate forum early on in the race -- voters won't head to the polls to choose a replacement for Gov. Tim Pawlenty until November 2010.

It's only been a week since the Republican announced he won't seek a third term, so most of those expected to attend the forum are Democrats. They include House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner, former legislators Matt Entenza and Steve Kelley, and legislators John Marty and Paul Thissen.

Labor and Industry Commissioner Steve Sviggum, a Republican, has told organizers he will attend.

Davis reports for Forum Communications Co., which owns the Herald. The last item came from The Associated Press.

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