Another thought: How about fewer members?
The May 29 editorial asks: “Should commission set pay for legislators?” I think there should be another question: Should a commission set the size of the Legislature?
For more than 50 years, people have been advocating a reduction in the size of the Legislature. Although there are many valid reasons, it never happens, because the current Legislature has sole discretion to do this by law. No one wants to vote themselves out of a job.
Minnesota has the largest Senate (67) and 10th-largest House of Representatives (134), a total of 201. Compare this with Wisconsin (132), Iowa (150), Ohio (132) and California (120). A few years ago, there was an attempt to change the Legislature to a unicameral body. This would have reduced the size to 135 members. I favor a bicameral body, but I think approximately 100 people could do the job.
We have more legislators in St Paul (12) then we have City Council members (seven). Outstate counties like to have their own legislators, but this is not needed in the days of electronic communication.
Since we are able to watch the Legislature on TV, it’s easy to see that a good percentage of our legislators are freeloaders. Although there are many brilliant people there, many times you see authors who don’t know or can’t explain what’s in their bills.
I’m all for more pay for the legislators, but not with the current bloated size of the Legislature.
Lyle Nelson, St. Paul
* * *
Consumers have other, better things to buy
As a small-business owner, I am tired of hearing people complain that convenience stores will lose money because people will quit smoking. If you have a business plan that is based on selling a product that eventually kills 50 percent of its users, you’re in a losing battle and should find a better business model.
Further, money spent currently on cigarette sales will not disappear if smoking declines; people will simply buy other stuff — and this shifted money will actually stay in our state, generating new jobs.
This tax is a good thing no matter what angle you look at it from. It will save almost 50,000 Minnesotan kids from ever starting smoking, save health care costs in the state and shift the purchase of these deadly products to other products in our local stores. This is certainly a policy I can get behind.
Dana Hoenigschmidt, Ramsey
* * *
The real impact will occur if it goes national
A May 28 commentary on ranked-choice voting in the 2009 Minneapolis mayoral and City Council election (“This year, we see what RCV is all about”) concluded that it didn’t make any difference; no third-party candidate won any of the 18 races. But Minneapolis is a one-party city, and the issues are local.
The real value of ranked-choice voting is in closely disputed national elections. I hear lots of people say that both major parties are corrupt. They agree with Bob Dylan that “money doesn’t talk, it swears.” They are dismayed that, despite the calamity caused by the gory greed of big bankers, none of them have gone to jail, and they remain as rich and influential in government as ever. Large numbers of liberals and conservatives would like to rein in the military-industrial complex and even close some foreign military bases, but powerful lobbyists protect the bottom line of the myriad defense contractors. The idea of sweeping defense expenditure reductions is never even discussed, let alone enacted.
When I tell people to simply stop voting for either of the major parties, they look at me funny. They say that voting for a minor party is to throw away their vote. Under the current system this is true, but ranked-choice voting in wide-open congressional or presidential elections would give third-party candidates a chance to win or to at least make a strong showing, which would bolster future support. The Green, Libertarian and other third parties could bring badly needed reform to our country.
Dean DeHarpporte, Eden Prairie
* * *
After all these years, still sharing his wisdom
Former Minnesota Vikings coach Bud Grant is still teaching us life’s lessons, this time regarding the fire that destroyed much of his property in northern Wisconsin (“Wisconsin fire singes a living legend’s dream,” May 26). Mr. Grant tells us at the end of the article that we have to be thankful for what we have, that the forest will grow back, even though he won’t live to see it.
This reminded me of my encounter with Coach Grant in the early 1970s, when, as a 12-year-old returning with one of his children to his home after I had accidentally run his snowmobile into a tree (and thinking that I was really going to be in for a good, old-fashioned verbal lashing), all that mattered to him was that no one was hurt in the accident.
Thanks, Coach, for the lessons, and thanks for the four NFC championships that you brought us during a time when there were so many great NFL teams, coaches and players!
James Sampson, Mound
* * *
Not seeking re-election, to relief of these readers
Not running? Wow, there is a God!
Francis Taranto, Minneapolis
• • •
Michele Bachmann has finally done something good for Minnesota!
Dan Coleman, Apple Valley
• • •
Thank you, Michele!
Judy Sigelman, Golden Valley