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State Capitol: Vietnam veterans program coming

ST. PAUL -- On this Memorial Day weekend, the Minnesota Veterans' Affairs Department is beginning to take online registration for a June 13 Vietnam era veterans' celebration.

Veterans' organizations hope to attract people from across the state to the State Capitol grounds to honor Vietnam era veterans.

Registration is optional, but the department asks veterans to sign up at or call (651) 296-2562 by June 10. Veterans who register will receive a lapel pin when checking in on June 13.

The free event, which is open to anyone, will feature a 2 p.m. program. along with flyovers throughout the day, music from the period, Vietnam memorabilia, food and a replica of the National Vietnam Memorial.

Vet medical bill

Veterans returning home could find jobs as paramedics under a bill introduced by U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar, DFL-Minn., and Mike Enzi, R-Wyo.

The Veterans-to-Paramedics Transition Act would streamline civilian paramedic training for returning vets who obtained some military medical experience.

"When they signed up to serve there wasn't a waiting line and when they come home and need health care or a job, there shouldn't be a waiting line," Klobuchar said. "Today, we have an abundance of returning veterans who have significant medical training and experience. They're an ideal talent pool to relieve the severe shortage of emergency medical personnel in rural communities."

When veterans return to civilian life, their military medical training does not count toward civilian paramedic certification.

Unallotment politics

Gov. Tim Pawlenty has not said whether he will seek a third term in 2010, and Capitol observers wonder whether the governor's plan to cut spending on his own would hurt his chances at the ballot box.

In a meeting with reporters, Pawlenty sounded as though he is confident that Minnesotans agree with his decision to cut spending in a process known as unallotment rather than continue fighting with Democratic lawmakers over the budget in legislative overtime.

"The No. 1 response I get as I've been around Minnesota, at least the last few days, anecdotally is: 'Thank goodness we're not having a stupid special session, thank goodness we're not having a stupid (government) shutdown and thank you, governor, for taking the bull by the horns and getting this thing dealt with.'"

Pawlenty said he expects to catch heat for unilaterally chopping and delaying state spending $2.7 billion.

"Anytime you go out and reduce spending to balance the budget that's going to be controversial," he said.

But Pawlenty said the unallotment process to be undertaken in the next several weeks will not delay his announcement on whether he will seek another four years as governor.

So is he running for a third term?

"I'll let you know shortly," he said.

Bureau smaller

The rough spot in the economy that has forced many newspapers to lay off workers visited the Forum Communications Co. Minnesota Capitol Bureau.

Scott Wente no longer is with the bureau after his job was eliminated for economic reasons.

He only has been in the bureau full time since 2006, but a media blogger recently called him a seasoned veteran.

Wente also covered two legislative sessions for Forum Communications newspapers, in 2005 and 2006, while working for the Red Wing Republican Eagle.

Don Davis works for Forum Communications Co., which owns the Bemidji Pioneer.