Blame the Democrats
During the hearings on gas prices being conducted by our illustrious House of Representatives, maybe the oil companies should have pointed out the real reason for the high prices: The U.S. government, namely the liberal Democrats, has stopped them from building the necessary refineries to refine the oil to gasoline and diesel fuel and from drilling new oil wells.
HAROLD OLSON, MINNEAPOLIS
A LOWER DRINKING AGE?
It works elsewhere
It's nice to hear the debate starting again about the drinking age. The discrimination toward 18- to 20-year-olds needs to stop. They are adults and should be treated as such.
I find it hard to believe young adults in America are more immature than in any other country in the world. Even Canada has a drinking age of 18.
Perhaps it's not a higher legal age that is needed, but rather more education and a controlled exposure to alcohol.
DALE FULLER, ROGERS
How about a route?
The city of St. Paul and the Legislature have been spending time considering if they should allow bars to stay open until 4 a.m. during the Republican Convention. And yet, the city has yet to grant a permit with a definite route for those who wish to march against the war during the convention. Officials say they need more time to study it.
Perhaps St. Paul should be more concerned about granting the people's rights of expression instead of being able to drink all night long.
JIM DAHLGREN, CRYSTAL
FIXING THE DEFICIT
Recruit our vets
Minnesota has a nearly $1 billion revenue downturn the next few years. How does Minnesota generate more tax revenue?
How about getting more military retirees to move here, in their late 30s and early 40s, to start second careers and spend money on homes, cars, etc., to generate more tax revenues?
How do you get more military retirees to move here? Drop the state tax on military retirement pay, like 42 other states have done, because we are losing military retirees -- and millions of dollars annually -- to Wisconsin and the Dakotas.
The nearly 17,000 military retirees here now (for a state population our size, we should have 65,000) bring in more than $260 million annually. Most of this income is spent on items that have a sales tax. And military retirees bring their own health insurance at no cost to Minnesota.
MARK DAVIDSON, BLOOMINGTON
SMOKING BAN'S EFFECT
Little on gambling
An April 1 article ("Smoking ban has apparently cut into revenue from charitable gambling") referenced the American Cancer Society's disagreement with the study conclusions without explaining our concerns.
In short, the law is working and, in tough economic times, hardly to blame for people spending less money gambling.
The Freedom to Breathe Act was adopted as a public health measure, and the most important study topic of the law's impact is its effect on the health of Minnesotans. For people with cancer caused by secondhand smoke, gambling is, at best, a secondary concern.
However, the study blames the popular law for declining charitable gambling revenues, even though it acknowledges charitable gambling has been on a steady decline for at least five years. The report attributes significant declines in the end 2007 to the law. But the chart on its cover tells a different story, showing that downward trend began in the middle of August, well before the Freedom to Breathe Act took effect in October.
State lottery officials have cited the softening economy for a 20 percent decline in January sales of scratch tickets, and Minnesotans have been watching and worrying about the economy further back than that.
The American Cancer Society does not disagree with the conclusion that charitable gambling in Minnesota continues to decline, and we hope that changes, but the Freedom to Breathe Act is not to blame for that decline.
Instead, the Freedom to Breathe Act is working to make all Minnesotans healthier and, with any luck, better able to weather the storm of a bumpy economy.
DAVID ARONS, MENDOTA HEIGHTS;
DIRECTOR, MINNESOTA GOVERNMENT RELATIONS,
AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY
For coaches and guns
I applaud the bill now being considered by the Legislature requiring criminal background checks for all coaches of school activities.
The measure closes a loophole in state law that requires background checks for all teachers but not for coaches who spend a lot of time with our children. This bill, if passed into law, will make Minnesota children safer.
Now, if our legislators would be just as eager to pass a bill currently languishing in several committees that would require background checks on all sales of guns at gun shows, we would increase the safety of our schools and communities. There is a loophole in Minnesota law that allows unlicensed sellers to sell any type of weapon to virtually anyone who wants one at gun shows and other venues.
Given that we have decided that teachers and coaches should be checked out before working with our children, why would we not want anyone who purchases a handgun or assault-type gun to also be required to undergo a criminal background check?
JOAN A. PETERSON, DULUTH;
MEMBER, STEERING COMMITTEE,