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Proposal would restrict insider trading

Aiming to crackdown on political corruption, 1st District Rep. Tim Walz is cosponsoring a bill that would make it illegal for members of Congress to engage in insider trading.

Under current law, nothing prevents a member of Congress from trading securities and commodities based on nonpublic information they receive, Walz said while visiting Rochester last week. If a member abuses this by selling stocks based on insider knowledge, it can also be a way to alert friends to sell to avoid losing money.

"The idea of this is just outrageous," the Mankato Democrat said.

So far, Walz has had a tough time finding other members of Congress willing to sign on to the bill. There are two other sponsors — fellow Democrats Rep. Brian Baird from Washington state and Rep. Louise Slaughter of New York.

Walz said the bill "isn’t about trying to point a finger." Rather, the Democrat said it is an effort to bring transparency to Congress.

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Kline cosponsors pay freeze

Second District Rep. John Kline is cosponsoring legislation to freeze congressional salaries by halting the scheduled cost-of-living pay increase for 2010.

"Men and women across Minnesota — like many Americans — are struggling to make ends meet and learning how to do more with less," Kline said in a release. "With our nation facing economic distress, freezing congressional salaries is simply the right thing to do."

He’s joined by DFLers Walz and Minnesota 7th District Rep. Collin Peterson in cosponsoring in the legislation.

Norton to play national role

in health care reform

Rochester Rep. Kim Norton has been appointed to serve on two national health care committees by Minnesota House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher. The local Democrat will be a member of the National Conference of State Legislatures Health Committee. She will also be part of the conference’s project called Health Information Technology Champions, or HITCH. This project is part of a national effort to establish and develop state legislative policy expertise on health information technology.

"If we want to see comprehensive health care reform implemented in this country, we need to get the work done together," she said. "Minnesota has established some national leading reforms, and we can gain from examining what other states are doing as well."

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At the state level, Norton serves on the House’s Health Care and Human Services Policy and Oversight committee.

Big honor for Winona lawmaker

Rep. Gene Pelowski last week became the first legislator in Minnesota history to receive the Distinguished Service to Journalism Award from the Minnesota Newspaper Association.

The Winona Democrat received the award "for his significant contributions during the 2008 legislative session to promote the freedom of the press, freedom of speech, open meetings and freedom of information," according to a news release. Pelowski was presented with the award on Jan. 29 as part of the association’s annual convention in Bloomington, Minn.

During last session, Pelowski wrote an amendment maintaining a six-week period for foreclosure notices in newspapers. He also wrote and passed the data privacy bill, which closed a loophole that allowed publicly elected bodies to meet behind closed doors.

"As a legislator and public servant I have always strived to strengthen and preserve the freedom of the press and speech," Pelowski said. "It’s a great honor to receive an award for the advancement of some of the guiding principles of our country and state."

Weigh in on the governor’s budget proposal

Minnesota Democrats are taking the governor’s budget proposal on the road, hosting town hall meetings across the state. They are scheduled to visit Rochester on Feb. 19.

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Democrats have been critical of the governor’s budget proposal, which includes steep cuts to health care, local government aid and higher education. Republicans are calling on Democrats to release their budget proposal.

Heather J. Carlson covers politics for the Post-Bulletin. Her Political Notebook column runs every Monday with items concerning political issues affecting

southeastern Minnesota. She can be reached at hcarlson@postbulletin.com.

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