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Editorial: By the 'bi'

How long has it been since the spirit of bipartisanship and compromise was practiced in state and national politics?

Extreme politics now rule the day. Who can forget Rush Limbaugh's much repeated, four-word declaration at the time of President Obama's inauguration: "I hope he fails."

Lawmakers of both political persuasions, left and right, regard each other like aliens: Us vs. Them. There's little pretense of civility and no possibility of getting the people's business done.

However, we see glimmers of hope in our region. Last July governors Doyle and Pawlenty, Wisconsin and Minnesota, Democrat and Republican, met in Hudson and promised to continue efforts to prevent contaminating runoff from flowing into the St. Croix River.

Unfortunately, the cooperation failed to close the gap in the dispute over tax reciprocity, which Pawlenty arbitrarily ended, much to the dismay of tens of thousands of border-crossing commuters.

Yet we now have state Sen. Sheila Harsdorf (R-River Falls) picking up the scraps of the deal that the two governors left littered in the water.

Reaching across the border and to the opposite party, Harsdorf worked with Minnesota Sen. Kathy Saltzman, a Democrat, to arrange a meeting in Woodbury this week. The goal is to restore the tax reciprocity deal and keep alive the spirit of interstate cooperation to serve residents of both states.

Harsdorf is also partnering with a Democrat in Wisconsin, Rep. Ann Hraychuck, to push for a state law that requires DNA samples from suspects arrested for a felony. "Just as law enforcement collects fingerprints and mug shots at the time of arrest, we should take a DNA sample," Harsdorf says.

The idea is to make it easier for law enforcement to track serious serial offenders. Hraychuck said a DNA data bank would prevent some crimes, save money by speeding up costly criminal investigations and exonerate those falsely accused.

Several local law enforcement officials support the Harsdorf/Hraychuck bill, saying it will help solve crimes.

Our point is that this type of legislation makes sense to the average person. Ditto for restoring tax reciprocity for Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Which is apparently why Harsdorf and Hraychuck, and Harsdorf and Saltzman, have come together, minus the political sideshow, to work something out. Bravo!

Isn't that why we elect them to represent us? Get down to business, get some stuff done.

Sure, some of us are more conservative, some more liberal. So what? Work through your differences, give ground, find common ground, then finish the business at hand.

Dare we suggest that such an approach can be used at budget time? Of course we can!

Just ask your school board, town board, county board and city council. Those local folks get more done and posture less because they operate without these damning labels: Democrat, Republican.