As the only suburban Republican on the public safety conference committee, Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove, was the deciding vote in a nearly fatal blow to two good gun bills that would have saved lives with minimal infringement for gun owners (“Gun-control measures stymied,” front page, May 15).

The comprehensive background-check bill and the red-flag bill are proven life-savers in other states. Sen. Limmer’s excuse was the proportionality in sentencing compared with other crimes.

I can tell you what proportionality really is, having attended four gun hearings this week. For all the hours of testimony I sat through, not one Republican expressed concern about saving lives from gun deaths. Their concern: holding onto their guns. A lot of talk about that.

When you go to the polls in 2020, remember who cares about the possible shooting of your child in the classroom or from suicide and who cares about being able to sell guns with no paper trail.

Bob Waligora, St. Louis Park

• • •

As the Minnesota legislative session churns on with a divided government, we have begun to hear that fiscal responsibility demands no new taxes. Of course, this call comes from the senators who hold a small Republican majority in the state Senate.

The reality is that the GOP has elevated a president who leads in robust economic times while racking up near trillion-dollar deficits and who himself is a failed businessman so inept that he lost more than a billion dollars over the course of 10 years. When the tired lectures of fiscal responsibility begin, all one must do is point to the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and have a good hearty laugh. It’s the only appropriate response to such rank hypocrisy.

Joe Wenker, Minneapolis

COUNTY ATTORNEY

Unlimited sick leave and time off, plus a full paycheck? Now I get it

It was quite the eye-opener reading the article regarding Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman’s unexplained medical leave (“Freeman medical absence indefinite,” May 14). As an elected official, he has unlimited sick leave and time off — and, as a pot-sweetener, gets his full paycheck to boot.

Now I understand why these politicians put so much effort into getting elected and re-elected. They certainly treat themselves very well — and the rest of us are footing the bill.

Sharron Mae Ebert, Brooklyn Park

MENTAL HEALTH

To improve student mental health, beef up school counselor numbers

U.S. Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn., wants to increase access to mental health services in our schools, an excellent idea supported by community mental health providers. One approach to achieve this outcome would be to commit additional resources and focus on the very people in our schools who provide mental health care: school counselors, school psychologists and social workers. These licensed professionals provide social and emotional support so students can learn, and teachers can teach.

However, school counselors are woefully underrepresented in our schools. According to the American School Counselor Association’s latest report, the ratio of school counselors to students in Minnesota is 659 to 1; we rank in the bottom five states. Other states in the region are doing better than Minnesota. Iowa’s counselor to student ratio is 411:1. North Dakota’s is 304:1, and Wisconsin’s is 434:1. One of the reasons states like Wisconsin have more school counselors serving students is a dedication to employing mental health providers, specifically school counselors at each level in the K-12 system. State law in Wisconsin requires schools to have school counselors. Minnesota has no such requirement.

Collaboration between in-school mental health providers and community mental health services to support students makes sense. Minnesota leaders should use this opportunity to dedicate necessary resources toward its school-based mental health programs and professionals by looking at the experiences of neighboring states.

Mark Gillen, Minneapolis

CONFLICTS OF INTEREST

HCMC: Address staff ethics policies

Thanks to the Star Tribune for reporting on Sen. Jeff Hayden, D-Minneapolis, and his request for change at Hennepin Healthcare in response to revelations about Dr. Jeffrey Ho, who has financial ties to the manufacturer of police stun guns and is also a part-time sheriff’s deputy (“Senator decries HCMC conflict ‘loopholes,’ ” front page, May 15).

Dr. Ho’s previous statements and his role in the ketamine project with the Minneapolis police were shocking, as was the unanimous reaction at HCMC condoning his actions. It is immoral and unconscionable to involve people in experiments without their approval, and even worse to allow police officers to influence medical decisions. Now we find that Dr. Ho is further complicit in other police activities, benefiting his financial position. His self-righteous e-mail interview was even more alarming — he said some of the worst experiments started out “to protect people from injury, save lives in the field.”

In order to have scientific validity, personal economic gain and corporate groupthink must be eliminated. The wolf has no business guarding the henhouse, even if he and his boss think it will save the world.

John Crivits, St. Paul

ECONOMIC GROWTH

Try actually asking rural Minnesota how it feels about Trump’s economy

A letter writer from Minneapolis (“Sure, give Trump credit for growth, but give him credit for harm, too,” Readers Write, May 15) suggested instead of going to the “business world” for opinions on the economy under Trump, we should go to small-town Minnesota to talk to farmers and shop owners to ask them how the economy is going. The tone of his letter suggests these small-town Minnesotans would be anti-Trump.

As a small-town Minnesotan with a home in Brown County and a cabin in St. Louis County, I spend a lot of time with farmers, workers and business owners in rural Minnesota. Rural Minnesota supported Trump in the 2016 election and for the most part continues to support him and the positive impacts his administration has had on the U.S. economy.

The stock market is just one component of a broad economic recovery. Trump’s policies of tax cuts, deregulation and trade reform have revitalized our economy. Consider: 3% growth in GDP in 2018, the first time in 13 years this has happened, over 5 million new jobs created since January 2017, and the lowest unemployment rate in 50 years. Rural Minnesotans understand the importance of a strong economy but are not big fans of the Green New Deal, rehashing the Mueller report or identity politics. Democrats are going to need something better to attract rural Minnesota voters. Maybe the letter writer should get out of liberal Minneapolis occasionally and talk to rural Minnesotans who have and will continue to support our president.

Chad Hagen, Sleepy Eye, Minn.

FASHION ADVICE

A warm-weather suggestion

Please, Minnesotans, as the weather warms — no black socks for men in shorts. Yuck!

Linda Idziorek, Minneapolis