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Dem, GOP duo unite over oil measure

A bipartisan duo backing North Dakota's Measure 1, the oil trust fund measure, have made a video for YouTube. Sen. Connie Triplett, D-Grand Forks, and Rep. Dave Weiler, R-Bismarck, appear in the two-minute video, recorded on the Capitol lawn this...

A bipartisan duo backing North Dakota's Measure 1, the oil trust fund measure, have made a video for YouTube.

Sen. Connie Triplett, D-Grand Forks, and Rep. Dave Weiler, R-Bismarck, appear in the two-minute video, recorded on the Capitol lawn this past summer.

Weiler was a sponsor of the resolution during the session and is chairman of the committee campaigning for its passage.

If voters approve it Nov. 4, the state constitution will put most of the Permanent Oil Tax Trust Fund off-limits to routine state spending. Sponsors, who call the measure a "permanent promise," say it will ensure the state won't be caught short when the oil boom ends.

A link to the video and supporters' other information is at www.measure1nd.com , or go directly to the video at www.youtube.com/watch?v5BcBbyl9OGY .

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Measure 1 opponent "Partners to Protect North Dakota's Future" has a similarly named Web site, www.ndmeasures2008.com , and will announce its media campaign today. The same group opposes the income tax cut issue, Measure 2.

Pessimistic attitude

Minnesota businesses are like those elsewhere in the country: pessimistic and eagerly awaiting federal action.

The attitude is bound to affect Minnesota politics, a Minnesota Chamber of Commerce survey of business owners and managers shows.

Chamber President David Olson said the survey indicates the 2009 state legislative session, in which lawmakers will write a two-year state budget, likely will be contentious.

"The 2009 session already looms important, especially if the economic downturn continues and there is pressure to raise taxes," Olson said. "We are likely to see numerous proposals to raise taxes on business, and they could not come at a worse time."

A state budget deficit of between $1 billion and

$2 billion can be expected, the chamber predicted.

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More than half the chamber Business Barometer poll's respondents said higher taxes are the biggest problem their companies face when it comes to trying to create jobs. A year earlier, high taxes were listed as the No. 1 problem by one-third of those taking the poll.

Must-do event

One of the most important events of this year's (or any year's) North Dakota political campaigns is Wednesday: Sauerkraut Day in Wishek.

Held every second Wednesday in October, it's now in its 83rd year.

For many politicians and candidates, it's an event that can't be missed.

The free meal of sauerkraut, wieners and mashed potatoes is put on by the Wishek Association of Commerce to celebrate the area's Germans-from-Russia heritage.

By at least one account, it drew an estimated 1,100 or more people last year, pretty good for a midday, midweek celebration.

West shut out

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The western-most Minnesota U.S. Senate debate will be in Minneapolis.

Sunday's Rochester debate will be followed by one in Minneapolis on Saturday, with a Duluth encounter on Oct. 16 and two in St. Paul on Oct. 24 and Nov. 2. The three major candidates will be in each debate.

Asked and answered

The Bismarck-Mandan Chamber of Commerce recently demanded an explanation from Barack Obama's campaign about a remark Obama's running mate is heard making in a video posted on YouTube - www.youtube.com/watch ?

v7rXyTRT-NZg.

Sen. Joe Biden seems to be speaking against coal plants and clean coal technology, chamber President Kelvin Hullet said.

Noting that 75 percent of the Upper Midwest's electricity is coal-fired and the coal and power-plant industry is an important one for the state's economy and budget, Hullet called on North Dakota's congressional delegation - all Democrats - to clarify Obama's stance.

He received his answer on Thursday, when Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., sent a statement saying he talked to Obama, who "reaffirmed his support for clean coal as part of his overall energy plan."

No AIG worries

Minnesota's commerce commissioner says despite insurance giant AIG's financial problems, policyholders in the state are not in danger.

"The AIG insurance companies are separately regulated by state insurance regulators and do not have the financial stress that AIG Holdings Inc. is experiencing," Commissioner Glenn Wilson said.

"They are meeting all their financial obligations to their policyholders. Consumers who feel pressured to replace annuities or property-casualty insurance policies because of claims that AIG is under financial stress are encouraged to contact the Minnesota Department of Commerce."

Ruling questioned

The group sponsoring Measure 2, the North Dakota income tax cut on the Nov. 4 ballot, is questioning Al Jaeger's recent ruling on absentee ballot applications.

The state Republican Party mailed absentee ballot applications to party faithful missing blanks for voters' dates of birth and driver's license numbers, which are now required by state election law.

But Jaeger asked county auditors to accept the applications anyway.

Dustin Gawrylow of Americans for Prosperity says Jaeger is being inconsistent by deciding to let that legal irregularity slide. A few weeks ago, Jaeger told Gawrylow's group that he had to stick to the letter of the law and describe its income tax measure on the ballot in a way that points out mistakes in the measure that sponsors consider mere typos.

But Jaeger says there is a consistency in his actions - the well-being of voters.

They need to be told that irregularities in the tax measure's wording could affect some of them differently, and in the case of the ballot applications, he didn't want to see voters punished for something that wasn't their fault.

Barkley 'shock wave'

Dean Barkley kicked off his air campaign with help from Jesse the Voice.

The two radio commercials feature former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, who appointed Barkley to the Senate for a two-month stint after Sen. Paul Wellstone died in a 2002 plane crash.

One spot has Ventura urging voters to pass over Republican Sen. Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken and instead pick Barkley.

"Ten years ago we gave the state a wake-up call; now send a shock wave that Congress can't ignore."

In the other commercial, Ventura and Barkley banter back and forth about the financial crisis and how neither major party is willing to address the growing federal deficit. That's a key issue in Barkley's campaign.

Big ag names

The Minnesota Agri-Growth Council is attracting a couple of the country's biggest names in agriculture.

Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer, a former North Dakota governor, highlights the group's Oct. 30 meeting in St. Paul. Also on the agenda is U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., who is chairman of the House Agriculture Committee. Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty rounds out the big-name list, although several other agriculture leaders also will talk to the organization that advocates for the state's food and agriculture industry.

Don't expect Peterson to tell the council that he hopes to be agriculture secretary if fellow Democrat Barack Obama is elected.

He recently said, again, there is "no way" he would take the job if offered.

"I am not interested."

Cole and Davis work for Forum Communications Co., which owns The Forum. Cole can be reached at (701) 224-0830 or forumcap@btinet.net and Davis at (651) 290-0707 or ddavis@forumcomm.com

Related Topics: AGRIBUSINESSAGRICULTURE
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