Dayton, Legislature deal blow to progress

The June 30 story on broadband illuminated the critical role that connectivity plays in our economy ("New sales tax hurts rural broadband, proponents say"). It is this century's version of the interstate highway system. A community, no matter what other advantages it offers, cannot expect to thrive without full access to its services. Members of the business community depend on it, but so do consumers, patients, students, voters and many more. It's hard to think of any aspect of daily life that has not been transformed by high-speed access to the Internet.

Given broadband's importance, it's puzzling why the Legislature and Gov. Mark Dayton chose last session to make investing in it more expensive and less attractive. By repealing the sales tax exemption on telecommunications equipment, they are costing us jobs, making us less competitive and moving in the opposite direction from most other states.

The St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce is adding its voice to a growing chorus from cities and counties, businesses and farmers, young people and seniors, who are urging the Legislature to reconsider this tax increase in its next session.


The writer is director of public affairs for the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce.


Yes, we do need a national turning point

While I agree with the Star Tribune editorial that President Obama's speech on climate change needed to be "a turning point," we won't see congressional critics proposing "something better," partly because over half of conservatives in Congress are climate-change deniers ("A key turning point on climate change," June 30). The earth's temperature and CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere have already reached dangerous levels. Fortunately, the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication showed in April 2013 that nearly two in three Americans believe global warming is happening. Still, inaction is a huge problem, not just among our congressional leaders who are beholden to their fossil-fuel corporation donors, but also among the public, which is not voting for leaders who will act courageously on climate change or pressuring current officials to decisive action. An apt example is the defeat in 2010 of South Carolina Rep. Bob Inglis.

It is time to stop talking about the right and the left and recognize that the turning point we need is for all of us to act on our recognition of the climate crisis.

I support some form of a carbon tax, and President Obama's plan has the potential to make significant changes in carbon emissions until we are able to enact the more substantive national policy that is necessary. Inaction is no longer an option if we are going to preserve our planet.



Golf course could have been saved in Eagan

The article about how Twin Cities golf courses are being converted to housing missed a great many important details regarding Parkview Golf Course in Eagan, and erroneously suggested that the conversion beginning there is routine ("Housing developers tee up for Twin Cities courses," June 30). In fact, Parkview has been in business as a golf course for decades. Although its previous owners complained about the declining number of rounds played, it was actually a viable business that served a unique niche in Eagan and the area by catering especially to youths and seniors. There was even a willing and able buyer who wanted to continue it as a golf course. Support for denying the zoning amendment was high, and definitely not limited to the neighbors, although those neighbors had legitimate claims that were ignored by the City Council. Four of the five council members listened politely, then completely ignored their own Comprehensive Plan, and the welfare of Eagan residents, in approving the zoning change. Of course a course owner can make more selling to a developer, but it's not the owner's choice to change the zoning.



First step in tax reform should be a repeal

On Monday, Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., and House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., will be in Minnesota on their nationwide tax reform tour. Their efforts are critical to growing our nation's economy and competing globally. In Minnesota and across the nation, repeal of the medical device tax is a critical first step in this process.

Minnesota's medical device community, which boasts more than 35,000 direct jobs and 100,000 supporting jobs, is under great duress. Thankfully, our congressional leaders are working hard on this issue.

Minnesota Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken led the recent passage of a strongly bipartisan budget resolution supporting repeal of this onerous $30 billion tax. Minnesota congressman Erik Paulsen has been driving repeal of the tax in the House with similar bipartisan support.

This issue is personal for our companies. Both ACIST Medical Systems and Heart Leaflet Technologies Inc. are R&D intensive businesses with highly-skilled workforces in Minnesota and California. The medical device tax has already caused us to reduce both R&D spending and hiring. Our ability to remain a great U.S. and Minnesota success story is at risk today as a result of the device tax.


The writer is president and chief operating officer of ACIST Medical Systems and Heart Leaflet Technologies.