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Don Davis, Forum News Service, Published September 28 2013

Minnesota political notebook: Voter registration available online

Minnesotans now may register to vote online.

“We join many states that have already demonstrated that online registration is secure and that it saves taxpayers money,” Secretary of State Mark Ritchie said.

Ritchie said the online process is more convenient for voters, reduces errors in voter rosters and delivers significant cost- and time-savings for local election officials. It also could speed lines at polls, where voters may register on election days.

The secretary of state also announced that his office will make absentee ballot applications available online. Last year, 10,506 Minnesotans voted absentee, going through a paperwork intensive process.

“This is a great improvement in voting absentee for our men and women overseas or at U.S. military bases far from home,” said retired Lt. Col. John Kingrey, judge advocate general officer of the Army Reserve. “Those defending our freedoms should be able to exercise their right to vote in a simple, straightforward manner.”

Paper absentee registration forms still will be available.

Who deserves credit?

Everyone takes credit for good news, but bad news is an orphan.

An example is news that Minnesota’s business climate appears to be getting better.

Right after the release of the “Forbes 2013 List of the Best States for Business,” Democrats and Republicans took credit for Minnesota jumping 12 spots to eighth place.

Democrats said their changes in the state budget this year did the trick. Republicans hinted, or said outright, that the budget beginning July 1 has not been around long enough to influence such a turnaround, so the budget that they mostly wrote two years ago is the reason for the improvement.

Forbes looked at costs, labor supply, regulatory environment, current economic climate, growth prospects and quality of life to draw up its list. Virginia ranked first, followed by North Dakota, Utah, North Carolina, Colorado, Nebraska, Texas and Minnesota.

The state most Minnesota politicians consider a top competitor, Wisconsin, ranked 41st. Neighboring South Dakota ranked 11th and Iowa 12th.

“The Forbes magazine study is fantastic recognition of our state’s strong economic climate and thriving business community,” said Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

Forbes pointed out that 92.5 percent of Minnesotans have high school degrees, the country’s second-best figure, and mentioned state’s good schools and quality of life.

Dahlberg ‘another name'

It does not appear the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party considers St. Louis County Commissioner Chris Dahlberg a serious U.S. Senate candidate.

“There are now six Republicans competing to see who will be more extreme in the contested primary for U.S. Senate,” DFL Chairman Ken Martin said. “Dahlberg is just another name on a growing list.”

The DFL has sent out several emails attacking Mike McFadden, a wealthy businessman who could finance his own campaign against incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken.

One of the latest attacks was McFadden’s absence from a GOP Senate candidate forum so he could attend a fundraiser and coach his son’s football game. The DFL frequently has written about what it perceives as McFadden’s lack of public appearances.

No tax reciprocity

It appears the Tuesday deadline will pass for Minnesota and Wisconsin to reach a deal allowing people living in one state and working in the other to pay taxes in just one state.

The “tax reciprocity” agreement that expired a few years ago was supposed to be rewritten this fall, but that has not happened and at last report no meetings were scheduled before Tuesday’s deadline.