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State books full of facts, free to public

Two books that tell Minnesotans more about their state than they ever knew are available - and for free.

The secretary of state's office introduced the new Minnesota Legislative Manual, better known as the Blue Book, and its student edition version. Each comes out every two years.

The two are sesquicentennial editions, celebrating the 150th birthday of the state next May.

"It is an important historical record, and the legislative manuals going back to the beginning of the state tell a great story," Secretary of State Mark Ritchie said.

The blue book includes items ranging from the state constitution to photos and information about legislators and other policymakers. It also includes information on local government and historical documents.

The student edition is slimmer than the blue book, and even includes a section on flag etiquette.

The blue book is available at Ritchie's office in St. Paul or by sending a self-addressed padded envelope (Jiffy #4 or #5) stamped with $2.81 in postage to: Office of the Secretary of State, Attn: Shaun Denham, 180 State Office Building, St. Paul MN 55155.

The student edition is available in bulk to classrooms or may be downloaded from the secretary of state Web site.

Not alone

Property tax increases bother many Minnesotans, but the National Conference of State Legislatures says they are not alone.

At least 21 states this year considered or are still considering property tax relief of some sort, the conference reports. But there is no single solution to the problem.

That problem may not be as Minnesota specific as Gopher state residents think.

Minnesota's per-person property tax payments are the 28th highest in the country, putting the state far lower on the list than many other taxes. New Jersey is the most-taxed state when it comes to property, collecting more than twice as much per person than Minnesota.

New name

The Minnesota Trial Lawyers Association has changed its name to something more attractive to the public -- Minnesota Association for Justice.

"The new name is a reflection that what we do is more important than who we are," organization President Chris Messerly said.

One of the group's jobs is to "educate lawmakers," a news release from the organization indicates.

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.