Another legislative session is about to come to an end. As we approach the constitutionally mandated May 21 adjournment date, let’s hope we don’t see some of the terrible tactics in which a bill is voted on before legislators have time to read and digest it.
There have been some pretty shameful activities in past sessions as the clock winds down. Just this past week we saw an ag, environment, jobs, health garbage bill that the House debated. A sampling of topics included gerrymandering, pollinators, junkets, chronic wasting disease, attorney fees, water quality, unemployment benefits, energy storage, building codes, wage inequity and electromagnetic pulse attacks.
Some of these kitchen-sink bills, also known as omnibus bills, are pretty nauseating. Especially in light of our own Minnesota Constitution (Article IV, Section 17), which states a single-subject rule: “No law shall embrace more than one subject, which shall be expressed in its title.”
So now is the time to demand a government of the people, by the people and for the people.
Terry R. Houle, Bloomington
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The public will soon be demanding that the Legislature and governor compromise on the budget. Those elected officials apparently need help. I’ll try now. You can, too.
Following are suggested talking points for a compromise. Lower the bottom tax rate from 5.35 to 5.1 percent, as passed by the Senate. Lower the second-lowest rate from 7.05 to 6.90. The House wants 6.75. Restore the inflationary increase on cigarette taxes. Add at least $100 million of Gov. Mark Dayton’s emergency funding for public schools. Split the difference between his request for infrastructure bonding and the Legislature’s plan. Keep estate taxes, deductions and business taxes as they are now. Eliminate federal taxable income as the basis for state income taxes.
Jim Bartos, Brooklyn Park
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Regarding the May 6 Hot Dish Politics item “Two weeks left and long to-do list”:
Not a word about the distracted-driving bill. This must be a lost cause!
The governor and Legislature haven’t said much about it lately. Apparently, it’s not a priority.
Dick Ries, Shakopee
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In his May 4 column (“Hey, R U driving? Illegal texting up”), Tim Harlow says that about 300 agencies participated in an enforcement campaign against texting and driving, giving out 1,576 citations. I’m shocked that it wasn’t many times that. I see it every day at most intersections. One would have thought that with this many agencies “cracking down” over two weeks that each would average more than the one citation every three days that this works out to.
Mark Destache, St. Paul
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Sometime back in the 1970s my wife and I took a vacation to Canada. As we drove the highways, we were immediately impressed by how free of litter (certainly compared with the U.S.) the roads were. The reason became clear as soon as we passed a road sign that said there was a $1,000 fine for littering. It now occurs to me that we might be overthinking the possible solutions and penalties for texting while driving. Saving people’s lives compared with penalizing someone for throwing a pop can out of a car window seems like a no-brainer to me. Make texting while driving a $1,000 violation, and let us see how fast people put down their phones.
Bob Mitchell, Shakopee
Letter writer identifies right problem, wrong answer on drugs
A May 6 letter writer asks: “Why is it such a mystery that one way to control drugs, crime and crippling social welfare starts with … .” In the spirit of accepting societal responsibility, the sentence should have finished with “Americans curbing their use of illicit drugs.” Predictably, though, the writer put the blame on immigrants and the need for tighter border patrol.
As long as the demand for illegal substances is off the charts, drugs will be procured. If they can’t be obtained from across the border, users will cook, grow, forge or smuggle them. That is not to say we shouldn’t pursue the cartels, but walls and patrols are not the easy fix some may believe. In fact, border patrols have been known to turn a blind eye to the wall-jumper with a bulging backpack of contraband because they’ve already been paid off, rounding up instead the true refugees. It is well-documented that between 2006 and 2016, 200 employees and contract workers of the Department of Homeland Security took nearly $15 million in bribes while being paid to protect the nation’s borders and enforce immigration laws (“Bribery is a problem inside U.S. border agency,” Dec. 29, 2016).
Who knew the drug, crime and social welfare problem was so complicated?
Kathleen Wedl, Edina
OLIVER NORTH TO BE NRA PRESIDENT
Such optics on this one …
I always hoped to have my own personal missile but could never find one for sale. But now I have a chance.
Oliver North has just been appointed president of the NRA. Yippee! Yes, he’s the guy who clandestinely orchestrated the sale and shipment of arms, including some 2,000 missiles, to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s Iran. This is the country that President Donald Trump claims is “a terrorist nation like few others” and that CIA Director Mike Pompeo on April 29 called “the greatest sponsor of terrorism in the world.” Apparently, North believes the Second Amendment includes the right of Trump-labeled terrorists to bear arms, including missiles. Give him some slack: After all, guns, missiles and nuclear weapons don’t kill people; people kill people.
And, certainly, Americans are entitled to equal treatment. I can’t wait to shop for my own missile at the next NRA convention!
Brad Engdahl, Minneapolis
A theoretical decision for you
This is a simple thought experiment on ethics for the upcoming election cycle. Given the current national unrest, who would be the best candidate for national office — an evangelical Christian who promises to support the current president, or an American Muslim who commits to uphold the Constitution of the United States?
Steve Watson, Minneapolis
Like, nearly perfect
When I travel the Midwest for my job and say I am from Minnesota, I expect questions about the 10,000 lakes, Prince or how cold it is in January. But all I get are questions about the Metropolitan Council.
Is it really the coolest regional governing body in America, better than Portland or Seattle? How do its members work so well together? Is it because they take mass transit to work each day? How do you get such quality members, and are they as nice in private as their public personas?
To get through this questioning as quickly as possible, I say the Met Council is to regional governing bodies what Julia Roberts is to Hollywood. Their response is an immediate: Ahhh! Then skepticism sets in, because after all, we are talking about government. So when pressed for even the smallest imperfection, and after pondering for some time, I respond: “Well, they could stagger terms?”
Dave Conklin, Victoria