As part of their proposal to abolish local government mandates, some state legislators are trying to repeal the Local Government Pay Equity Act (LGPEA), which has been on the books since 1984.
LGPEA is still necessary to ensure that Minnesota women are paid fairly for their work.
Research by the Women's Foundation of Minnesota, in partnership with the University of Minnesota's Center on Women & Public Policy, found that women in our state are still earning less than their male counterparts.
A 2010 report showed that white women earn only 76 cents for every dollar earned by a white male, while Native American, African-American and Hispanic women earn far less.
Clearly, pay discrimination is not a thing of the past. I urge all Minnesotans to speak out against the repeal attempt.
SHANNON DRURY, MINNEAPOLIS
The writer is president of the Minnesota Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW).
GOP legislators want to pass laws establishing English as the official language of Minnesota ("GOP lawmakers push for 'English-only'," Feb. 1).
I'm fairly certain this nation dissolved its association with all things English in 1776. During the intervening period, the language we know today became a rich mixture of many languages, representing dozens of immigrants' nationalities.
Minnesota's official state seal is written in French! So there's really no sense in stepping back 235 years and reverting to a language few of us use.
D. KINGSLEY HAHN, ARDEN HILLS
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Republicans' English-only bill is misguided. For years I've worked with immigrant families. They want to learn English, but many times the parents are just too busy to take classes because they work more than one job to support their families.
Perhaps a "living wage" law would afford them the time and opportunity to take language classes.
Let's find a way to help the adults learn English and not put up roadblocks.
SEAN FLEMING, ST. PAUL
I want to thank Robert Reich for his commentary in support of public employees and working people ("It's easy to natter about public workers, but they don't have it as good as you think," Jan. 30).
Republicans have attacked everything of value for those in the middle- and lower-income brackets, including Social Security, Medicare, cost-effective health insurance, pensions, etc.
It's time for working Americans to stand together against this attack.
TERRY TRAVER, Brooklyn Park
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The commentaries by Mark Haveman and Robert Reich about public-sector workers couldn't have been more instructive ("A matter of public concern," Jan. 30).
Haveman emphasizes public-sector productivity. Reich says the issue is really all about "the current Republican attack on public-sector workers."
These contrasting perspectives both document the political divide and illustrate the urgency of the public sector's predicament. A day of reckoning is now upon many state legislatures.
Political posturing can no longer preempt consequential action.
GENE DELAUNE, NEW BRIGHTON
It's important to keep in mind that the integrity of an election rests in its ability to fairly provide the fundamental right of an American citizen to vote. This is, after all, a representative republic.
I agree that fair, transparent elections are imperative.
But requiring government-issued photo identification at the polls will inevitably exclude some voters who have legally voted in past elections ("Voter ID bill: Solution in search of a problem?" Jan. 31).
It's not unusual for the poor and elderly to lack an identification card. While identity cards are free, they don't come easy. A birth certificate in Minnesota costs $26 and must be notarized. It can take four to six weeks to obtain one.
How is this fair? The real conversation should be about how many Minnesotans will lose out if this bill becomes law.
PETTER ERIKSMOEN, MINNEAPOLIS
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As an election judge in a rural precinct, I feel the "voter ID" bill is a poor use of taxpayer dollars.
The Legislature's Republican majority promised to address the state's dire economic problems.
Instead, it wants to increase the cost of government by buying expensive new equipment and adding regulations to our election procedures.
Where is the money going to come from? Will this increase our property taxes yet again?
How is this going to affect voting for average Minnesotans? How much longer will it take to vote? Is there proof that this regulation will stop voter fraud?
For that matter, do we even have a voter fraud problem?
KRISTINE PERSSON, BUFFALO
As the owner of a small business, I would like to provide my workers with health insurance. Instead, the state mandates that I must buy expensive worker's compensation insurance, even though I've only used it twice in two decades of owning a business. It's time to give people the insurance they really need.
CHRIS HAGE, DELANO, MINN.
In their commentary, state Republican legislators Jim Abeler and Steve Gottwalt said that decisions over where money is best spent should be made at the local level ("Important funding must be sustainable," Feb. 3).
Yet Republicans have bills calling for a statewide freeze in teacher salaries -- a decision normally made by local school districts and teachers. Funny how they fail to see the obvious conflict in the ideas they're promoting.
JASON ETTEN, Roseville