Capitol Catchall: Earmarks, road trips and a recount curriculum

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Minneapolis’ Phygen Coatings is getting some help from Reps. Keith Ellison and Betty McCollum, City Pages reports. The company’s research into plasma sterilization could get $7.8 million in appropriations backed by the Democratic duo. The company’s CEO, David Bell donated $2,500 total to the legislators’ campaigns, according to reporter Bradley Campbell.

Rep. Tim Walz is requesting around $105 million in earmarks for the 1st Congressional District, the Mankato Free Press reports. The funds would cover a range of projects, from new interchanges on Highway 14 to a new National Guard maintenance facility. Said Walz, “I’m confident based on a thorough review of the applications that the projects I am requesting will produce a return on the investment made by the taxpayers of southern Minnesota.”

Like Rep. Michele Bachmann, Rep. John Kline, the 2nd District Republican, has requested no earmarks, his third year opting out. “The fatal flaw in the earmarking process is that projects are still being prioritized by a member’s seniority and party affiliation rather than allowing them to compete on their own merit,” said Kline spokesman Troy Young. “Minnesota families would never prioritize their spending this way, Washington shouldn’t either.”

The ongoing U.S. Senate contest in Minnesota is heading to back to school. Key figures in the election recount and contest between Al Franken and Norm Coleman will be part of an Apr. 22 course by the Minnesota State Bar Association. Entitled, “The Future of Voting Rights in Minnesota: Lessons of the 2008 Election,” the two-credit class will include all-star presenters including Secretary of State Mark Ritchie and Ramsey County Elections Manager Joe Mansky, among others.

Michael Sneed at the Chicago Sun-Times offers a cryptic tidbit today:

Former GOP veep contender Tim Pawlenty is sending out feelers to top Illinois GOPers about a potential 2012 presidential candidacy. Ask state Rep. Jim Durkin, who handled McCain’s Illinois campaign.

At MinnPost, Cynthia Dizikes notes that Minnesota leaders are racking up frequent flyer miles this week: Sen. Amy Klobuchar is in Asia; Rep. Keith Ellison headed to Saudi Arabia; and Rep. John Kline went with a delegation to Pakistan.

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