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Daily Glean: Congress to Pawlenty: Dump your health cuts

The feds could withhold $2 billion if eligibility rules are changed. Also: born-again ballpark stink.

The PiPress’ Jason Hoppin says the state could lose $2 billion in stimulus money, should it cut off current beneficiaries — and Gov. Pawlenty wants to do just that. No word on how much money at the state level would have to be re-found to balance the budget. The guv’s office is taking the stick seriously but hopes the U.S. Senate removes the House-approved provision.

Jim Oberstar says the stimulus will create 12,000 Minnesota road-construction jobs by June, according to the PiPress’ Bill Salisbury. The Strib’s Jim Foti and Jim Adams cite highways 610 and 169 as likely beneficiaries. Out of $706 million overall, $105 million would go to rail and bus capital projects. The state has a $519 million list ready to go within 90 days. Strib editorialists deem the stimulus bill wrong-headed for devoting only 8 percent to infrastructure.

Related: GOP State Sen. Dick Day rips the stimulus job claims, calling them “foo foo dust,” MPR’s Tom Scheck reports. Stimulus opponent Collin Peterson defended his “no” vote, saying the last stimulus — President Bush’s early ’08 tax rebates — didn’t work. Of course, the stimulus is more than tax cuts, but Peterson objects to borrowing money for it. State Sen. Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller came away from a meeting with congressfolk downplaying expectations the stimulus will solve the state budget problems.

Gov. Pawlenty makes his clearest statement he’ll seek a third term to KSTP’s Tom Hauser: “We’re in challenging times. I think I have a lot energy and a lot of ideas for this position. I’m interested in continuing in this position,” adding “I enjoy it, and we’re doing everything to get ready to prepare to run for 2010, but I haven’t made a final decision on that.”

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Today’s talker is clearly Mary Jane Smetanka’s Strib scoop that Hennepin County officials want to spend $500,000 to destinkify the Twins ballpark. This, after subsidy-seekers swore no garbage burner smell wafts over there. Apparently an elevated promenade changed everything, but you’re forgiven for being skeptical. The dough would move burner doors to divert smelly trucks, and another $1.8 million would landscape the place to make it nicer for potential development.

Related: Minnesota Independent’s Chris Steller provides the value-added by naming a ballpark truth-teller: none other than perennial gubernatorial candidate and garbage-burner opponent Leslie Davis. Steller provides richly ironic quotes from the ballpark’s original Environmental Impact Statement. He also notes Davis was in court Wednesday to complain about commissioners having him arrested during the ballpark debate.

Hmm: turns out the ex-KMOJ DJ Tasered to death by Minneapolis cops had been Tasered before … by the same cop, the Strib’s Abby Simons and Lora Pabst report. (The officer was part of a team in both instances.) The victim, Quincy Smith, was acquitted of obstruction of justice in the 2005 case; he resisted arrest outside a Minneapolis nightclub but claimed he was an innocent bystander.

Election contest minute: Norm Coleman, a fixture at the trial, tweaks Al Franken for not being accessible to the press, the Strib’s Mike Kaszuba notes. Norm’s every courthouse move is taped by a Franken campaign worker. Hey, folks — election’s over! Coleman dropped a claim against 177 Maplewood ballots found after Election Day, the PiPress’ Rachel Stassen-Berger reports. Talking Points Memo’s Eric Kleefeld has a bit of sport with a cherrypicked Coleman absentee voter who went a bit overboard with computer imaging.

Catholic values: State Rep. and DFL gubernatorial candidate Paul Thissen, a proud Holy Angels alum, had a school honor jerked away because he supports abortion rights, the Strib’s Mark Brunswick reports. The award is for alums who “through their citizenship and achievements, have brought honor to themselves, their school and the community.” But Thissen, a former class vice-president, athlete, and crusader for kids’ health care and low-income social services, was undone by a single position. No, not the death penalty.

No shocker here, just a data point: Event bookings at local hotels are down 10 percent this year, the Business Journal’s John Vomhof Jr. reports. I’m surprised it’s not more, but it just adds to losses from reduced business and leisure travel.

North Dakota, land of promise! MPR’s Tom Robertson says Minnesotans are migrating in increasing numbers to the Peace Garden State, where oil drilling jobs still exist despite cratering prices. No firm stats, but a job board is flooded with Gophers looking to be ex-pats. As for those who have jobs, 5 percent of the nation’s employers cut worker pay last year and 11 percent are considering it this year, MPR’s Nikki Tundel notes.

Nort Spews: The Gopher men bucketeers slam Illinois 59-36; that ends a 20-game losing streak to the Illini and gives Minnesota third place in the Big Ten. Sore Losers here and here.