Need space? Simply shrink the Legislature

There is no need to build a new Senate office building (“The case for a new state Senate building,” Feb. 27). Amend the state Constitution to eliminate the House of Representatives and bring the size of the Legislature in line with other states. The Senate can then occupy the space vacated by the House.

BARRY WAHLBERG, Alexandria, Minn.



Not needed; schools are already on the case

Regarding (“Antibullying bill ‘safe’? Check the hidden agenda,” Opinion Exchange, Feb. 27): The bully pulpit is all that is needed here — we don’t need another jobs bill for lawyers. If Democrats were more confident in their leadership skills, the strength of their reasoning and the good intentions of most people, they would not have to bully everyone with even more compliance paperwork at our schools.

A majority of schools are adopting guidelines independent of a new state law. What is the purpose of creating a law when the practice the law is intended to create has already been set in motion with local policy?




Oblige businesses, as we do employees

The Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires employers to provide reasonable accommodation to the religious beliefs and practices of employees. The Minnesota Human Rights Act also has been interpreted by the Minnesota Department of Human Rights to require reasonable accommodation. The proposed revision to the Arizona Religious Freedom Restoration Act recently vetoed by that state’s governor, Jan Brewer, would have used the same principle to require customers to provide reasonable accommodation to the religious beliefs and practices of business owners. Both types of laws protect religious freedom in the same way. Applying one standard to employees and another to business owners is discriminatory in itself.




Shame on Star Tribune for letting it in print

A picture says a thousand words; you only have to look at the front page of the Sports section to know that (“Three dimensions,” Feb. 28). I was saddened to see, in a photo accompanying a story about the three brothers on the University of Minnesota hockey team — that a Confederate flag was hanging on the wall of their family’s basement.

Is our society so numb to such a shameful reminder of slavery and segregation that we print pictures of these symbols without concern for the message of hate that it sends? It is time to bury this image, this flag. Shame on the Star Tribune for not recognizing the pain this causes so many people. I am not sure what this flag represents to the Reilly family, but the image does not belong on the front page of any section, of any newspaper, ever.




They can be good, if bundling is not allowed

Lee Schafer (“Wells Fargo returns to subprime: Good or bad,” Feb. 23) examines the pluses and the minuses of subprime mortgages without ever quite hitting the nail on the head. Such mortgages may be needed to increase the number of people who are able to live the American dream. We need homeownership to stimulate stability and growth as the middle class tries to take a share of America back from the super-rich.

But — we can’t forget — bad mortgages brought the economy down and plunged us into the prolonged recession and high unemployment that has plagued us for the last several years. Caution is appropriate, but what new rules will give us a reasonable level of assurance?

The answer is, to my mind, a simple one. That’s because subprime mortgages were only the first link in the chain that pulled the economy down. I would propose a simple rule: If a bank like Wells Fargo wants to offer mortgages below the safe credit levels of 680 and up, let it do so, but do not allow it to sell the debt to be bundled into securities.

If a bank wants the extra business, let it service the mortgages and share the risk rather than selling the debt to the relatively less-regulated and therefore less-safe servicing industry. When a bank shares the risk with the mortgagor, it’s a partnership, and the chances of it working are greatly enhanced.




Perhaps breaking it up would be the way to go

All of the news reports and commentary on Ukraine seem to carry the same message: The country’s territorial integrity must be preserved.

But why? Ukraine is deeply divided. A north-south philosophical fault line separates a section that identifies with Russia from a section that identifies with the West. Has anybody done a simulation on the consequences of separating the sections into two nations? What would be the population of each? The nature and viability of the economy? The effectiveness of the government? The degree of social and religious cohesion?

If the projected outcome looks favorable, perhaps the United States, the European Union and Russia should jointly sponsor a plebiscite by which Ukrainians could decide for or against a division of the country, with disaffected residents on each side of the border to be assisted in relocating to the other side.

The world survived two Germanys and is tolerating two Georgias. It likely would survive two Ukraines, as well, especially if they were created by a direct vote of its citizens.