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Group takes tax hikes to task

ST. PAUL - Minnesota's biggest anti-tax group bought billboard space to promote its cause to people headed to Minnesota's biggest get-together.

The Taxpayers League of Minnesota bought billboards along streets leading to the state fairgrounds.

"Our first billboards highlight Minnesota Speaker of the House Margaret Anderson-Kelliher and her efforts to raise taxes by $1.5 billion dollars," league President Phil Krinkie said.

The billboards proclaim: "She thinks you're not paying enough in taxes." It refers to bills that would have raised taxes $1.5 billion.

"The Minnesota State Fair is usually considered a time to kick off political discussions in the state and we wanted to take advantage of that by helping to educate Minnesota voters on the tax and spending habits of state legislators," Krinkie said.

Busy candidates

Two Minnesota representatives who want to be governor will be in the official Minnesota House booth at the State Fair more than anyone else.

House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, DFL-Minneapolis, plans four shifts, mostly during the visitor-heavy weekends. Rep. Marty Seifert, R-Marshall, has three shifts scheduled.

Many lawmakers take a two-hour shift at the fair booth to give the public a chance to discuss issues with elected officials. The House and Senate have separate booths next to each other.

Seifert is the only governor candidate with his own campaign booth at the fair. Most serious candidates have fair booths in an election year, but such booths are rare more than a year before an election.

Voting aid available

Better voting access for the disabled is supposed to be the result of a new federal grant, Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie said.

Ritchie's office will receive $365,000 to distribute to local governments to improve polling place accessibility.

"Anyone who is eligible to vote should not have to confront accessibility hurdles at the polls to participate in their democracy," Ritchie said.

Senators tour

A Minnesota Senate committee Tuesday begins its every-other-year state tour of proposed public works projects.

The Senate Capitol Investment Committee, chaired by Sen. Keith Langseth of Glyndon, heads to places such as Hastings, Red Wing, Rochester, Austin, Albert Lea and Faribault for a three-day tour. Three other tours will take in other parts of the state this fall.

Langseth said he expects about $3 million in requests to fund public works projects by the time the next legislative session begins Feb. 4.

Earlier this year, the Legislature approved nearly $300 million in public works project funding, but a couple of recent sessions appropriated nearly $1 billion.

The money to fund the projects is borrowed and repaid over a series of years.

Senate leader travels

Minnesota Senate President Jim Metzen is part of a week-long trip leaving Friday for Taiwan.

The South St. Paul Democrat and his wife were invited by the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, along with other Midwestern legislators.

"This is an exciting opportunity to explore the way Taiwan's democracy operates and to explore trade opportunities between their nation and Minnesota," Metzen said. "As chair of the Senate's Business, Industry and Jobs Committee, I understand the need for Minnesota to be a factor in our growing global economy. Opportunities like this to reach out and explore potential new markets for our goods and services means Minnesota jobs in the long run, are very valuable."

American legislators will meet with Taiwanese government and business leaders.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.