I was pleased to see that Hillary Clinton acknowledges that her e-mails from her time as secretary of state belong to the State Department (“Clinton urges State Dept. to speed release of e-mails,” May 20). It would have been more timely, however, if she’d had this belief from the start of her tenure. When exactly, Madam Secretary, would you have turned over those documents had they not been requested from the State Department? Are we to believe that hard-copy e-mails turned over to the department will contain documents that have not been carefully scrubbed and sorted? Why, Madam Secretary, did you not provide an electronic record of all your e-mails, and why have you not requested a forensic examination of your server by an independent third party?

We can only hope that the American media does its job and demands answers to these questions and others about Clinton’s time as secretary of state. Maybe they can ask her the “if you knew then what you know now” type of questions about Russia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Iran and Iraq among others. Then, and only then, will Clinton have made herself transparent enough for the American voter to make an informed decision.

Gary Dreyer, Bloomington

HEALTH CARE

One wonders if our leaders care whether programs are supportive

The May 19 article “New task force takes up potential MNsure changes” misses a key point. According to University of Minnesota pundit Larry Jacobs, the task force will analyze how to change public programs like MinnesotaCare to make MNsure sustainable. But it’s not the job of Minnesota health care consumers, especially lower-income MinnesotaCare enrollees making $8 to $12 an hour, to make the “private individual market viable.” The market should be looking for, and catering to, the needs of health care consumers. And this means prices these consumers can afford and quality plans that provide them with the health care they need, when they need it.

Dolores Dunlop Voorhees, Cedar

• • •

I come to this MNsure/MinnesotaCare issue from an interesting perspective, having been a part of both. For years, I was lucky enough to qualify for MinnesotaCare. I am one of the self-employed, disappearing middle class. MinnesotaCare was great coverage and affordable. When MNsure was “enacted,” I suffered through the glitchy (for lack of a better term) sign-up. It took months to get coverage. My premium via MNsure, Minnesota’s answer to the Affordable Care Act, was almost five times more than I was paying on MinnesotaCare, and the coverage wasn’t as comprehensive.

According to MNsure, I made too much money to stay on MinnesotaCare. After being on MNsure for a year, I was told I qualified for MinnesotaCare and could change policies again. I am now back to “actual,” affordable health care.

How is it possible in a state with a $1.87 billion surplus that losing MinnesotaCare is even a possibility? What is it about those of us who work hard to keep a roof over our heads and pay our bills that makes us so invisible, or worse yet, not even considered worthy to keep an important resource?

R.L. Brown, Minneapolis

• • •

The new health care task force is meant to evaluate the future of our collection of health programs, when research and experience already show that the best overall solution is a unified health care program covering everyone in the state. Such a program provides care to everyone, regardless of economic status, and controls costs. Second, Republican leaders wish to bypass MNsure with subsidies that are essentially vouchers, guaranteeing prosperity for the HMOs but poverty for the rest of us. Third, too many pundits, like Jacobs, voice concern about “making the private individual market viable” rather than providing medical attention to all who need it. Finally, legislative leaders want to bolster MinnesotaCare by reducing its budget and demanding that its low-income participants pay more. That is backward. We should bolster our low-income residents by demanding increased funding for MinnesotaCare. Isn’t providing affordable health care to low-income Minnesotans just what that program is supposed to do?

Joel Clemmer, St. Paul

 

TRANSPORTATION

Dayton’s wholesale tax would be an unnecessary complication

Steve Sack’s cartoon in the May 20 paper was only partly correct. The correction should be that the cracked and pothole-filled road should be leading up to a shiny, new, multimillion-dollar roundabout, complete with sidewalks to no place.

In the case of the gas tax, the Legislature was correct in not passing Gov. Mark Dayton’s new sales tax on fuel at the wholesale supplier. Why does a new government entity need to be created when an excellent fuel tax system is in place? The fuel tax system at the pump has been in place for more than 80 years and serves us very well. The more miles you drive, the heavier load you haul, the more tax you pay. The Legislature should have increased the tax per gallon at the pump to pay for road and bridge repair and improvements.

Bruce Granger, West Concord, Minn.

 

THE ENVIRONMENT

Abolishing MPCA citizens board is one big mistake among several

The 2015 Legislature has delivered a series of blows to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. The worst of many setbacks to Minnesota pollution control is the demise of the citizens policymaking board, created in 1967 by the brilliant Little Falls Sen. Gordon Rosenmeier, “father of the MPCA.” He wanted the board to end the “cozy relationship” that existed between polluters and the previous agency bureaucrats.

The citizens board has served well Minnesota’s environmental program with citizen participation in shaping state policies. That gave better and faster decisions than if left solely to a commissioner. As the second head of the MPCA, I can attest to that during my tenure in the Anderson administration in the 1970s.

Sen. John Marty, chairman of the Senate Environmental Committee, said during debate Monday that “we have had the only environmental agency in the country giving people a voice in deciding environmental issues.” He correctly concluded that the bill abolishing the citizens board as well as delivering numerous other setbacks was a “huge mistake.”

GRANT MERRITT, New Hope

The writer was director of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency from 1971 to 1975.

• • •

Both the Star Tribune and public radio have been remiss in reporting on the omnibus environment and agriculture bill that passed out of the Legislature this session. House File 846 contains a number of disturbing provisions — many dubiously added outside of committee review — that strip enforcement of our water-quality rules, including a rollback of wild-rice protection and exempting sulfide mining from solid-waste rules. Other astounding provisions include gutting the MPCA’s citizen advisory board (these are the folks that ultimately protected Preston’s citizens from a tire-burning plant) and raiding dedicated funds to clean up dumps and landfills that contaminate ground and drinking-water sources.

H.F. 846 also provides polluter amnesty; as a former hazardous waste inspector who saw polluters pour toxic chemicals into pits and onto the ground, I can tell you these folks would never “self-report” their contamination of the land and water.

Last — and ironically, as the federal government is stepping up to protect pollinators with pesticide review and increasing habitat (“Feds throw bees a lifeline,” May 19) — the Legislature has voted to allow deceptive labeling on plants that can kill pollinators on contact.

What a crushing disappointment from our government and our news sources. Our last hope is a veto from Gov. Mark Dayton. Will he deliver the legacy Minnesotans deserve?

Catherine Zimmer, St. Paul