Growing ethical concerns about campaign contributions have prompted states around the country to tighten their debt issuance practices. One of the most common responses has been to require competitive bids, so that the implied connection between contributions and bond business is severed. In 1991, Florida made changes on when negotiated sales can be used, and New Jersey followed suit earlier this year. Most recently, Massachusetts announced plans to ban most negotiated debt by its state and authorities.

As a state that has traditionally issued nearly all of its debt competitively, Minnesota has received numerous inquiries about how to develop appropriate guidelines and procedures. Many calls have concerned our practices for handling refundings -- bonds that conventional wisdom has always dictated must be negotiated because of those proverbial "windows of opportunity."

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