ST. PAUL -- Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton leaves today on a South Korea trip, via Japan, to promote trade.
The Democratic governor said he hopes to help "open the door" to increased trade. Twenty-four business, agriculture and academic leaders will accompany Dayton.
Dayton told reporters Thursday that he wanted to keep the trade mission small since it is his first as governor. It also is the first Minnesota mission to Korea.
During his meeting with reporters Thursday, Dayton answered questions on a variety of issues, and announced he is getting a second puppy. His answers touched on issues ranging from a new Vikings stadium to the Legislature holding informational hearings.
Before visiting the Korean peninsula, Dayton speaks at the Midwest U.S.-Japan Association conference in Tokyo. He is fulfilling a tradition of the leader next hosting the conference (it will be in Minnesota next year) to deliver a speech to the current convention.
While in Japan, Dayton also will visit Kyota and Osaka and attend a sumo wrestling tournament.
Dayton said that earlier this year U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told him that South Korea, Singapore and Vietnam are good opportunities for American farmers, so when he accepted the Japan speaking engagement he decided to add Korea to the agenda.
Dayton has a series of meetings scheduled with Japanese and Korean government and business leaders. He also will host a wreath-laying ceremony to honor Minnesota soldiers who died in Korea and has invited Minnesota troops stationed in Seoul to lunch.
Dayton returns to Minnesota on Oct. 1.
House Majority Leader Matt Dean, R-Dellwood, said that he supports the Democratic governor's trade mission. Opening export markets is a good thing, he said.
The governor began his news conference with: "I have breaking news for all of you. I'm getting a new puppy."
The black German shepherd will join Mingo, born earlier this year. A name-the-puppy contest begins Monday on Mingo's Facebook page.
Dayton said the contest winner will go to dinner with him at his son's Minneapolis restaurant.
The governor added that Mingo offered a bit of advice: "If you don't want dinner with my dad, don't enter the contest."
The puppy, a male, was born Aug. 16 in Pine City.
Dayton turned serious and criticized Senate Republicans for holding what they called an "informational hearing" Thursday night on the possibility of unionizing child-care workers.
It is a subject he broached when wondering if he could approve unionization by executive order. Republicans who control the Legislature, however, said such an action would take a law change.
Dayton said that the state Constitution only allows lawmakers to meet 120 days, which have expired, "and then they are required to go home."
"Those who profess to be lovers of the private sector should get a job," he said, jabbing Republicans who favor better tax and other laws for businesses.
On the stadium issue, Dayton said that answers may come after an Oct. 15 deadline for the Metropolitan Council to report back on plans being discussed to build a new Vikings football facility.
"We put this on the fast track," Dayton said of the review, something he said usually would take years.
Media reports in recent days have indicated that Minneapolis may demand $30 million if the Vikings leave the city and that a vote to raise Ramsey County taxes to support a stadium could kill the effort.
Dayton predicted the Vikings will kick in more money than they now suggest, but also said the stadium likely would end up costing more than the currently planned $1.1 billion.
Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.