The coronavirus pandemic and subsequent business shutdowns have had a devastating impact on rural communities. With only two weeks remaining in Minnesota’s legislative session, state lawmakers must take advantage of every available tool to rebuild our state and local economies. That is why it is frustrating to see the bonding bill getting tangled up in politics (“GOP says no bond deal amid stay-home,” front page, May 3, and “Minnesota Senate GOP leader says he won’t delay bonding bill over Walz emergency powers,” StarTribune.com, May 4).

Passing a large public works bill is one of the most important actions the Legislature can take to create jobs and boost Minnesota’s economy. The need for a bonding bill that funds critical projects across the state was high before the virus hit — that need is even greater and more urgent now.

As many Main Street businesses remain shuttered and unemployment continues to rise, greater Minnesota is looking for strong leadership at the state level to help our communities weather this storm. Passing a bonding bill now will secure the funding needed to allow hundreds of capital projects — which employ thousands of workers — to get started as soon as it is safe to do so.

Lawmakers are in the unenviable position of having to thread the needle between keeping Minnesotans safe and finding ways to reopen and rebuild our economy. While the Legislature and governor have many difficult decisions ahead of them, the decision to pass a bonding bill should be clear. I urge legislators and Gov. Tim Walz to cast differences aside and come to a swift agreement on a bonding bill that will get projects rolling and Minnesotans back to work.

Audrey Nelsen, Willmar, Minn.

The writer is a City Council member and president of the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities.

• • •

At the start of the pandemic, the Republicans accused the Democrats of “politicizing” the coronavirus. Isn’t that a precise description of what the GOP is doing now — blocking passage on a bonding bill needed by everybody in Minnesota because they’re miffed that the governor isn’t consulting them instead of informed health professionals about modifying his emergency order?

P.T. Magee, St. Paul

FIFTH DISTRICT RACE

Omar should stay, with tweaks

I agree with Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison’s defense of U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (“Why Ilhan Omar has my support in Congress,” Opinion Exchange, May 4) with one important addition or piece of advice. The attorney general is right to highlight important policy positions promoted by Congresswoman Omar including college affordability, Medicare for All, affordable housing, livable wages and the need to cut excessive military spending. I would also cite her support for the Green New Deal and a more balanced foreign policy concerning the well-being of Israelis and Palestinians.

My one addition or piece of advice is this: People are more likely to pay attention to these big concerns if you do other seemingly “smaller” things well. If I were congresswoman Omar I would immediately take my husband off the payroll and pledge to be present to cast votes on all bills brought before the U.S. House.

Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, Minneapolis

• • •

I was very disappointed in Ellison’s opinion piece to the Star Tribune about voting for Omar. Integrity matters. The ability to work with others also matters in order to accomplish goals. Omar doesn’t just draw “the ire of people like President Donald Trump and the radical right.” She offends many liberals and moderates, decent people of all parties.

We need to work together to correct societal problems. Omar’s questionable judgment, her personal behavior and her reaction to criticism remind me of our current president. We can do better.

Sheila Grow, Minneapolis

• • •

The Star Tribune has devoted copious opinion and news space to one of Omar’s DFL challengers without answering an important question: What kind of Democrat is Antone Melton-Meaux? (“Newcomer gains steam in challenge to Omar,” May 3.)

Would he fight for Medicare for All, or does he want to continue profit-based, employment-linked health insurance? Does he support free college, or indenture of yet another generation to the student loan industry? In a global pandemic, would he introduce legislation to suspend rent obligations, or does he consider a one-time $1,200 payment sufficient?

If Melton-Meaux supports the same goals as Omar but believes he can be more effective in achieving them, that’s one conversation. If he advocates a different policy agenda, that’s another. Either way, the Star Tribune’s obligation is to tell us what he stands for.

Ben Weiss, St. Paul

WITHHOLDING FEDERAL FUNDING

That argument contradicts itself

Cutting away the gangster reference and purple prose, the argument by columnist John Kass (“Aid shouldn’t fund bailout for poorly run states,” Opinion Exchange, May 2), that blue states should be excluded from federal assistance to combat the coronavirus, contradicts and defeats itself. After conceding that states with (generally) Republican governance do not fully provide for the needs of their citizens, and thus require a continual stream of support from states run by Democrats, Kass proposes that blue states should not receive coronavirus support for the very same reason, that they do not adequately cover the cost of caring for their own. The heart of Kass’ argument is logically described as a self-refuting idea.

Peter Hill, Minnetonka

• • •

Kass’ op-ed bad-mouths rich states because they are poorly managed. If one chooses to take such a simplistic view of a complex situation, isn’t it just as reasonable to state that rich states are well-managed, which is why they are rich?

All states are hurting badly through no fault of their own. Should federal grants to the states be limited to address issues related to the pandemic, such as pension deficits? Certainly. But this doesn’t mean that New York shouldn’t be “rescued” at least as much as the poor states that Kass holds in such high esteem.

Kass also explains why poor states get so much federal aid: They are “extremely poor states, with many poor people who need federal assistance.” So he believes that we should “bail out” states with poor people, but not other states (California, for the record, has the highest poverty rate in the country by the Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure).

Again, all states need help right now. To say that one deserves help more than another is ignoring the needs of states that Kass doesn’t like.

Nic Baker, Roseville

LIMERICKS

Results of the contest, addressed

The entries were surely assessed

With judgment — subjective at best.

How did Mr. Chin

Decide who would win?

De gustibus non disputandum est.

Len Yaeger, Minneapolis