The question has been posed: Why amend the Constitution to ensure investment in clean water, habitat and culture?

The first section of Minnesota's Constitution says it all:

"Government is instituted for the security, benefit and protection of the people, in whom all political power is inherent, together with the right to alter, modify or reform government whenever required by the common good."

Constitutions have traditionally been used to give permanence to certain core values, placing them beyond reach of the whims of politics. Our Constitution serves as the founding document of the government of Minnesota. It describes how elections should run, describes the powers of the state, and directs how the Legislature and the judiciary should operate.

In addition to creating certain state powers, state constitutions traditionally reflect the state's unique sense of the "common good." Thus, Minnesota's Constitution addresses forestry, railroads, agriculture and taconite. It establishes policies to guide our state, including provisions establishing permanent revenue sources for critical needs such as highways.

The Star Tribune opposes the dedication of funding by constitutional amendment (editorial, Oct. 19). But through the years, our Constitution has been amended many times, for a wide variety of purposes. Recently, I reviewed what is already in the document:

•No license needed to sell fruits and vegetables -- Article XIII, section 7.

•Bonuses for veterans -- Art XIII, section 8.

•Investment of permanent university fund -- Article XI, section 9.

•Aid to railroads limited -- Article XI, section 12.

•Timber lands set apart as state forests -- Article XI, section 11.

•Creation and funding of a public highway system -- Article XIV.

•Horse-racing OK -- Article X, section 8.

•24-hour imprisonment of citizens for disorderly conduct during legislative session -- Article IV, section 25.

•Taxes on taconite, motor-vehicle sales, gasoline -- Article 10, section 6; Article 14, sections 9 and 10.

•Right to hunt and fish -- Article XIII, section 12.

So Minnesotans should ask themselves:

Is it as important to invest in Minnesota's trademark lakes, rivers, streams, forests and wildlife as it is to make sure that apples and zucchini can be sold without a license, provide bonuses for veterans, allow horse racing or limit railroad aid?

Is it as important to invest in Minnesota's green and blue infrastructure -- forests, prairies, lakes and streams -- as it is to invest in the cement-and-steel infrastructure (highways and railroads)?

As a former governor of Minnesota, I believe that the investment of the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment is vital to the quality of Minnesota's future, surely as necessary as horse racing and highways.

Wendell R. Anderson , DFL, is former governor of Minnesota.