When former Gov. Wendell Anderson died last week, every obituary mentioned his famous appearance on the cover of Time magazine.

The picture from a 1973 issue showed a beaming, flannel-shirted Anderson holding up a northern pike. And the headline to the story inside has entered state lore, remaining a source of great and justifiable pride to Minnesotans to this day:

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“Minnesota - A state that works.”

Is Minnesota still “a state that works”?

We’d argue that yes, in many ways it is.

But that’s not the point of this editorial.

Instead, the point of this editorial is to note that Time magazine more recently has lavished great praise on another upper Midwestern state. On July 11, Time singled out North Dakota, claiming that the low-key and neighborly nature of the Legislature sets it apart from those in the other 49 state capitols and gives North Dakotans - as the headline put it - “a government Jefferson could love.”

Hmm - not a bad headline, that.OK that.OK, so it’s not as sweeping as “a state that works,” and it’s true that neither Gov. Jack Dalrymple nor any other North Dakotan is pictured on the cover (or anywhere else).

And it’s also true that the North Dakota Legislature is just one of Time’s “240 reasons to celebrate America right now.” That was the headline on the cover, which means that to find the item about North Dakota, you had to turn to page 62.

But trust us, North Dakotans: the nearly two-page-long article is flattering nonetheless. That’s especially true because it highlights a feature of state life - the Legislature - that North Dakotans take for granted. Which will serve to remind residents of the other aspects of North Dakota life that also tend to be taken for granted, including Lake Wobegon traits such as safe streets, good schools and strong families.

Hey, maybe there’s competition for the “state that works” moniker after all.

“In many states, the Legislature is a model of dysfunction, generating frustration, jokes and the occasional indictment,” Time reports.

“Here it’s a source of quiet pride. In terms of approval ratings for state governments, ‘a really good score is 25 percent or 30 percent,’ says Karl Kurtz, formerly of the National Conference of State Legislatures. The most recent rating for North Dakota: 69 percent.”

Among the reasons for that popularity:

North Dakota’s is a citizen Legislature, one that convenes only for four months every two years, and also one that pays only a very modest wage. So, “every single legislator has got another life, they’ve got another job,” says Dalrymple in the story.

“It’s a wonderful cross section of society. It’s exactly what Jefferson had in mind.”

Here’s another telling item: “North Dakota may be the only state that guarantees every bill a floor vote, even if it lost in committee,” Time reports.

“The rule means that Ray Holmberg, who as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee holds a title that would demonstrate awesome clout nearly anywhere else in the U.S., can say with a straight face, ‘I have no power.’

“Bills cannot be stuffed into drawers or held hostage. The (skyscraper) capitol without a rotunda also eschews procedural filigrees that keep the public in the dark. And citizens know it. ‘If we tried to change that,’ says Republican Sen. Ron Carlisle, first elected in 1991, ‘you might as well jump off the dock, ‘cause it’s over.’”

All in all, it’s a fine portrait, one that should make North Dakotans proud. And it sure beats the publicity of years past, when residents were told their state should become a Buffalo Commons.