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Walz sponsors wind energy legislation

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First District Congressman Tim Walz is sponsoring two bills aimed at boosting wind energy production.

Walz joined fellow Minnesota Democrat and House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson in sponsoring the two bills. The first is the "Wind Energy Promotion Act," which would make it easier for farms and small-business owners to invest in wind energy. The bill would broaden who is eligible for the Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit, opening it up not only to investors but also farmers and entrepreneurs.

"Raising capital for wind energy projects is difficult because many residents of rural America do not qualify for the Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit, which is one of the major incentives to promote wind energy production," said Walz. "The Wind Energy Promotion Act will expand renewable energy production by leveling the playing field for individuals in rural America who are looking to enter the industry. 

The second bill, called the Renewable Energy Project Grant Extension, would temporarily extend a grant program included in the stimulus package until 2012. The grant money would cover 30 percent of the construction costs for qualified projects, like the construction of wind turbines or wind energy farms. The grant would be in lieu of the tax credits they would normally receive.

The bills are receiving support from area builders and farm organizations. The South Eastern Minnesota, Building and Construction Trades Council and the Minnesota Farmers Union were among the organization writing in support of the wind energy proposals.

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Pawlenty vs. Obama poll

While the 2012 presidential race is still a long ways off, polling has already been done to see how Minnesota’s governor would fare in a face-off with President Obama.

Public Policy Polling last week released a poll finding that while Obama’s approval rating in Minnesota has dropped six points since April, he would have the advantage in a race against Tim Pawlenty. The poll found that in a hypothetical presidential race, Obama led Pawlenty 51-40 — a margin that would exceed his margin against Sen. John McCain in the state last fall. But Pawlenty did better than Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin when it came to winning Minnesota votes. The poll found Obama leading Palin by a margin of 56-35.

Public Policy Polling is based in Raleigh, N.C., and mostly does polling for Democrats. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percent.

Mobile Franken office

coming to Rochester

As DFL Sen. Al Franken continues to settle into his new Capitol Hill office, his staff is hitting the road to visit with constituents. Representatives from Franken’s office will be in Rochester from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday at Rochester City Hall.

Rochester lawmaker

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awarded scholarship

Rep. Kim Norton, DFL-Rochester, has been awarded a scholarship from the Bowhay Institute for Legislative Leadership Development. The program helps newer legislators improve their leadership skills and policy-making abilities. Each year, 36 lawmakers from the 11 member states of the Midwestern Legislative Conference and its affiliate member, the provinces of Manitoba, Ontario and Saskatchewan, are awarded fellowship on a competitive, nonpartisan basis.

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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