State thrived under GOP policies? Hardly.


It is difficult to believe that state Sen. David Hann and state Rep. Kurt Daudt could produce their Jan. 16 commentary "With fiscal discipline, state thrives" with a straight face.

Two years ago, their party shut down state government (actually wasting tens of millions), then relied on additional borrowing from schools and tobacco money, along with other gimmickry, to balance the budget. The party actually raised property taxes by a convoluted formula that, last fall, even its candidates had great difficulty grasping.

Where did the GOP take its stand? In refusing to raise taxes on Minnesota filers with annual taxable income over $1 million.

These honorable public servants need to get out more and see what has happened to tuition since former Gov. Tim Pawlenty's inauguration, along with the abysmal condition of much of our state and municipal infrastructure and the overlooked needs of the public schools.

Minnesota needs to spend and, if necessary, raise taxes in a progressive manner.


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Advocates must bring Republicans on board


James Lenfestey is right ("The environment cries for Obama's leadership," Jan. 14), but that's just part of the solution. Theda Skocpol, a Harvard scholar, just released a report for an upcoming symposium "The Politics of America's Fight Against Global Warming." Her paper, "Naming the Problem," blames environmental groups for legislative inaction on climate change because they have not found the arguments to persuade Republicans and members of the Tea Party movement to act. She suggests that without the support of conservatives, the chance of getting carbon solutions through Congress will be doomed.

A bit harsh, but I think she's right. Can we get unstuck? To do that, we need to name the problem and have a national conversation. It will take concerned citizens from each of their congressional districts to get the ball rolling by writing to their delegates. They can start discussions on the likes of a carbon tax or fee and dividend legislation. The representatives will listen. Minnesota can lead the way and get its Republican delegation on board.


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Require supermajority of voters as well


It was with great pleasure that I read the Jan. 16 editorial on the effort to make the state's constitutional-amendment process more reflective of the purpose of the Constitution ("Constitution needs partisanship shield"). I would ask that any new process also require a two-thirds majority of all voters once an amendment has been brought forth.

Constitutional amendments should not be taken lightly, and this additional hurdle will help assure that any changes to the state Constitution will truly reflect the will of most, if not all, Minnesotans.


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Performance-enhancing drugs: Rules are rules


The Jan. 16 Letter of the Day ("Put performance-enhancing drugs in historical perspective") neglected one important point -- the rules.

Lifting weights or specializing in one sport to increase performance is perfectly legal. Taking a legal stimulant to extend studying time is also legal. But using illegal drugs in violation of a sport's rules and laws is breaking those rules. There is a difference.


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She continues to neglect her district


Michele Bachmann, the congresswoman from my district, has introduced a bill to end the Affordable Care Act, or, as she calls it, "Obamacare." She has yet to find a cosponsor for her bill. It seems that our representative once again won't be active or responsive to her constituents in the Sixth District. We are lacking representation because of her Tea Party leadership and support, so it will be another quiet and unresponsive two years for businesses and individuals in the district.


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Russia's actions may bring needed scrutiny


While many are distressed by Russia's abrupt termination of international adoptions, a silver lining is that such adoptions are coming under increased scrutiny. For too long, babies have been treated as commodities by adoption agencies, their rights as eventual adults abridged without the consent of impartial, uncoerced advocates, their best interests trumped by entitlement (wealthy/white couples "deserve" babies) and cultural bigotry (a child is "always" better off growing up in a heterosexual/wealthy/married/religious/American/white home).

Adoption agencies join with churches and desperate childless parents to suppress the rights of adults who were adopted as children, making it easier for agencies to engage in shady practices such as stolen infants. As a result, adult adoptees (like me) and our children face greater risks from inherited disease due to a lack of medical background.

To protect children, governmental oversight and complete transparency must be insisted upon. And adults who were adopted as children ought to have all rights to their backgrounds, for they can't be bound by a third-party contract signed when they were infants.

Russia's abrupt actions are a symptom: The illness is shady dealings in the international adoption trade, such as those following the Haiti earthquake, and French abuses in Chad.

Full disclosure: I am one of the founders of Bastard Nation, one of the nation's largest and oldest adoption-rights organizations.