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Opinion: Cheers to moderates in office

Cheers to NextMinnesota, a new organization designed to help centrist candidates in all political parties.

Detroit Lakes’ own Stephen Imholte teamed with Tom Horner, the Independence Party candidate for governor in 2010, to create the organization, which is focusing on the Minnesota Legislature.

While there are all sorts of forces pulling parties, and candidates, to the extremes, there are few counterbalancing forces.

NextMinnesota aims to provide that counterbalance, both through campaign contributions to moderate candidates and through boots-on-the-ground assistance during caucuses and primaries, when a little help can go a long way.

It’s an idea whose time has come, and we hope people support it both with cash and by getting involved in the political process.

The organization’s policy ideas on education, healthcare and taxes can be found online at

If it is successful, perhaps it can be replicated in other states and can make a difference in Congress — where the loss of centrist members can be seen in the latest political dysfunction, the government shutdown.

Jeers to the Detroit Lakes City liquor store for sometimes closing a few minutes earlier than its stated closing time of 10 p.m.

There’s no surer way to annoy customers than to close early, especially on a weekend evening.

We hope the instances we have heard of (and experienced) are a fluke and not standard practice in an otherwise well-run operation that saves city taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.

Cheers to MNsure, Minnesota’s health insurance exchange, which was one of only a few in the nation that did not crash under high traffic volumes when the Affordable Care Act exchanges launched Tuesday.

The site has been tweaked to minimize compatibility issues with the federal system: Users now have six chances before getting locked out (up from the previous three) and will get a second try within 24 hours (instead of a week).

As of Thursday, more than 4,200 individual and small-business accounts had been created, according to the Star Tribune newspaper.

Upgrades to the website continue, including the addition of a growing list of state-certified assisters and brokers that consumers may seek to help them sign up. The list included more than 1,100 organizations and 10 assister organizations.

Brokers get paid by insurance companies for enrolling consumers and businesses in their plans. Assisters and navigators are neutral resources, paid by the state, who can answer questions about the MNsure website and about various insurance options.

They are barred by state law from guiding consumers to one company or another. Both brokers and assister groups have been trained by the state and have passed background checks.

In Becker County, Markuson-Baer Insurance and Schiller Insurance are both listed on the MNsure site. Becker County Human Services is also gearing up to handle additional healthcare cases.