Readers Write: (May 30): Legislature, cigarette tax, ranked-choice voting, Bud Grant, Michele Bachmann

  • Updated: May 29, 2013 - 9:32 PM

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Another thought: How about fewer members?

The May 29 editorial asks: “Should commission set pay for legislators?” I think there should be another question: Should a commission set the size of the Legislature?

For more than 50 years, people have been advocating a reduction in the size of the Legislature. Although there are many valid reasons, it never happens, because the current Legislature has sole discretion to do this by law. No one wants to vote themselves out of a job.

Minnesota has the largest Senate (67) and 10th-largest House of Representatives (134), a total of 201. Compare this with Wisconsin (132), Iowa (150), Ohio (132) and California (120). A few years ago, there was an attempt to change the Legislature to a unicameral body. This would have reduced the size to 135 members. I favor a bicameral body, but I think approximately 100 people could do the job.

We have more legislators in St Paul (12) then we have City Council members (seven). Outstate counties like to have their own legislators, but this is not needed in the days of electronic communication.

Since we are able to watch the Legislature on TV, it’s easy to see that a good percentage of our legislators are freeloaders. Although there are many brilliant people there, many times you see authors who don’t know or can’t explain what’s in their bills.

I’m all for more pay for the legislators, but not with the current bloated size of the Legislature.

Lyle Nelson, St. Paul

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Consumers have other, better things to buy

As a small-business owner, I am tired of hearing people complain that convenience stores will lose money because people will quit smoking. If you have a business plan that is based on selling a product that eventually kills 50 percent of its users, you’re in a losing battle and should find a better business model.

Further, money spent currently on cigarette sales will not disappear if smoking declines; people will simply buy other stuff — and this shifted money will actually stay in our state, generating new jobs.

This tax is a good thing no matter what angle you look at it from. It will save almost 50,000 Minnesotan kids from ever starting smoking, save health care costs in the state and shift the purchase of these deadly products to other products in our local stores. This is certainly a policy I can get behind.

Dana Hoenigschmidt, Ramsey

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