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Ventura the Lobbyist
by Mark Zdechlik
February 29, 2000
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Governor Jesse Ventura has wrapped up his National Governors Association trip to Washington. Last night the governor co-hosted a Minneapolis Convention and Visitors Bureau dinner with Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton. Today he met with Minnesota's congressional delegation. Ventura also lobbied for federal legislation to help Hmong refugees who helped the United States during the Vietnam War.
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LAST NIGHT Governor Ventura lent his popularity to the Minneapolis Convention and Visitors Bureau; wining and dining a group city officials say has the collective ability to bring over $2 million of convention business to Minneapolis over the next several years.
Ventura: How safe is downtown? I'm the governor. We don't stand for nothing else.
Today the governor shifts his focus to a congressional effort that would make it easier for Hmong refugees, who aided the U.S. in southeast Asia to attain citizenship.

The Hmong Naturalization and Citizenship Bill would waive naturalization requirements, including elements of the naturalization test so older southeast Asians living in the U.S. can more easily become citizens.

The executive director of the state Council on Asian-Pacific Minnesotans, Eileen Her, says if passed, the bill could help thousands of people living in Minnesota - currently unable to become citizens because of language barriers.
Her: He will bring attention to this issue; we've been working on this for the last two sessions now. So this is the second time this has been introduced. We're hoping the governor bringing attention to this, people will look at this and that they will be able to pass the bill.
Ventura will also meet with the Minnesota congressional delegation. Yesterday, the Governor unveiled federal priorities of his so-called Big Plan. Ventura will ask Minnesota's representatives and senators to pick up on the plan's initiatives by pushing for greater access to global markets, reducing federal control over states and ensuring federal mandates on states are accompanied by federal funds.
Ventura: That's exactly what our message is today. We desire your support. We want you on the same page with us, so as we carry Minnesota government forward, you can likewise carry our initiatives forward at the federal level. Isn't that their job? They are there to represent the state of Minnesota.
Ventura will leave Washington as an emerging spokesman for free trade. He talked to President Clinton about the importance of expanding trade with China, and at the invitation of the administration, Ventura met with the nation's top trade official, who's hoping he can help sway sentiment in favor of normalized relations with China.

Standing outside the White House, Ventura said he told the president the U.S. should also be working to restore trade with Cuba.
Ventura: I did speak with him very clearly on the bit of hypocrisy with trade when we want to open the doors to China, and yet we seem to want to turn our back on Cuba, and I wanted more clearer message on why China and not Cuba?
Ventura says the answers the president gave him regarding Cuba "didn't hold water." But he offered no more specificity.

Minnesota's governor, who seems to enjoy his job most when he's out of state, also began working on a trade mission to Mexico. He met with the Mexican ambassador yesterday to talk about a trip south, possibly as early as this fall.

He's also planning a trip to Europe at the conclusion of his first term.