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MinnesotaCare program could see federal funding drop of $129 million

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Minnesota could lose some federal funding for its health insurance program for the poor.

"We have worked for over a decade to make sure that people in Minnesota have access to quality, affordable health insurance," Sen. Linda Berglin, DFL-Minneapolis, said. "We know that rising health insurance costs put coverage out of reach for many Minnesota families.

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Having a program that gives families a sense of security and prevents costly trips to the emergency room just makes good moral and economic sense."

The MinnesotaCare funding could be cut by $129 million for the next three years, Berglin said, prompting her to schedule what she called an emergency meeting of her Senate Health and Human Services Budget Committee for Wednesday.

Berglin said the loss of federal money would be disastrous for MinnesotaCare.

Debates sought

Dean Barkley is rallying his supporters to demand plenty of U.S. Senate debates.

His campaign manager, Diane Goldman, wrote to supporters urging them to call fellow Senate candidates Al Franken and Norm Coleman to convince them to agree to debates.

"If we can keep the pressure on Franken and Coleman over the next eight weeks we can do more than just win this election," Goldman wrote.

"We can send Dean to Washington so he can start making the kind of real change America needs."

Barkley is the Independence Party candidate for U.S. Senate from Minnesota who was a short-time senator in late 2002 and early 2003 after Sen. Paul Wellstone died in an airplane crash.

Supporting Pickens

Sen. Tim Mathern, the North Dakota Democratic-NPL candidate for governor, has signed the "Pickens Pledge," backing Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens' energy independence plan.

By signing the pledge, Mathern says he is joining Pickens and Pickens' supporters in calling for a new energy independence plan within the first 100 days of the new presidential administration.

Like Pickens, Mathern has advocated a huge buildup in Great Plains and North Dakota wind power generation.

'Truth Squad' formed

The McCain-Palin campaign is ready to counterattack with a battalion of women, including three Minnesotans.

"The Palin Truth Squad will set the record straight against Internet and liberal smears of Gov. Palin," the McCain-Palin campaign said Friday.

The Minnesotans are U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, state Rep. Laura Brod of New Prague and former state Rep. Barb Sykora of Excelsior.

Endorsements

The Great Plains Tribal Chairman's Association voted Sept. 5 to endorse Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential candidate.

The group is made up of 16 elected chairmen and chairwomen or presidents of sovereign tribes in the region. Nine of them participated in the vote, with all voting to back Obama. The vote was held Sept. 5 during the United Tribes International Powwow in Bismarck.

Their resolution says, in part, "Under an Obama administration, we believe Native Americans will have a voice in the senior White House staff, not just in the BIA, and (that) tribal leaders will meet directly with the president once a year in a White House Tribal G8 summit to develop national Indian policy."

Brian Kalk, the Republican candidate for Public Service Commission, says the AFL-CIO endorsed both him and his opponent, Cheryl Bergian, for election. The news of Bergian's endorsement ran in this space a week ago.

Kalk's father was a longtime member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and Kalk says he has championed increased energy production in the state and better-paying jobs.

Both Kalk and Bergian are from Fargo. It is unusual for the unions to endorse both candidates.

The North Dakota Right to Life Association has endorsed Republican U.S. House candidate Duane Sand.

Ag leaders tour

Representatives from 30 countries toured Minnesota agricultural sites in the past few days.

The 34-member group is hitting places such as the Minneapolis Grain Exchange, a turkey processing plant, an ethanol plant and a dairy. Many of the visits were to western Minnesota.

Minnesota exported $3.6 billion in agricultural products last year, seventh in the country, Agriculture Commissioner Gene Hugoson said.

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