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Halfway through first term, Franken says he’s worked hard for all Minnesotans

Now halfway through his first term, Sen. Al Franken said in Mankato Tuesday that he’s worked long and hard to prove he represents all Minnesotans.

Franken is now 33 months into his 66-month term; the normal 6-year Senate term was shortened by six months because of the lengthy recount that led to his 312-vote victory over Republican Norm Coleman in 2008.

The Mankato Free Press said Franken, a former comedian, talked about how he has taken a serious road as a politician: 

“I think everybody had a right to be (skeptical) … But I think I’ve shown to them I’m working for them, I’m working for the good of all Minnesotans, I’m working so that they and their kids have a better life.”

Franken met with the Free Press editorial board, where, the paper said, he came across as “serious, issue-focused and mostly nonpartisan.” Other highlights from the meeting:

Franken is pushing hard to promote retrofitting public and commercial buildings to make them more energy efficient. The projects pay for themselves in as little as three years via reduced utility bills and can be financed privately with a little encouragement by government.

The retrofits boost employment in construction trades and manufacturing plants making everything from high-efficiency windows to software systems to reduce lighting costs.

“I said to my staff, ‘We’ve got to figure out how to create jobs with no (government) money,’” Franken said. “… This creates jobs, saves energy and saves money.”

He has an initiative to promote better teaching of science, technology, engineering and math in K-12 schools, saying those skills are crucial to America’s economic future. And he’s been working to connect manufacturers and technical colleges so that jobs in areas such as computerized machine tooling — left vacant by a lack of qualified workers — can be filled through special fast-paced training programs.

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