For three years my family has been involved in working for passage of “hands-free” legislation regarding the use of electronic devices while driving. In those three years, the opposition has largely been silent, but effective in killing the bill. They’ve provided a few baseless claims in an attempt to support their position. Most recently, I read the Feb. 15 commentary by state Rep. Jeremy Munson, R-Lake Crystal. While his letter scored high on the fearmongering scale, I’m still waiting for a substantive argument from the opposition.

Let’s look to those states that have put aside the political hatchet in favor of sound legislation. The evidence clearly demonstrates the positive impact of “hands-free” laws.

Of the 14 states that have data available on crashes since passage of such legislation, 13 have seen reductions in the number of fatalities on their highways. Five of those states have seen a reduction of 20 percent or more, and the average reduction for all 14 states is 17.8 percent. This information is from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Public opinion supports the bill. Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka created a Facebook poll in 2018 that showed about 80 percent of Minnesotans favored the passage of a hands-free bill. Recently, 92 percent of respondents to a 2015 survey conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board indicated support for banning handheld use of phones.

Once the “hands-free” bill passes, those who stood against it will be ashamed to be reminded of the flimsy excuses they used to oppose it.

Greg Tikalsky, New Prague


We’ve advanced rights and respect, and this, within limits, follows

It was enlightening to read the inspirational story of Nate Oyloe, who overcame same-sex attraction through counseling and his faith in God and went on to marry and have three children (“Proposed ‘conversion therapy’ ban: Not all with same-sex attractions want them,” Opinion Exchange, Feb. 18). He should be recognized for his courage in defending the mental health industry and the precepts of his faith, verifying proof of the potential of medical miracles and that all things are possible for God.

Our state and nation have advanced the rights and respect for the LGBT community with laws to their benefit. Bullying and discrimination are not tolerated at any age. However, I don’t support new proposed legislation against allowing sexual identity counseling. The article was silent on the age of counseling and the issue of free choice to participate. While draconian influence on a young child might be discouraged, mature teenagers and certainly adults must be allowed to fully explore their sexual identity with a certified counselor professional of their choice.

Freedom works both ways when we are all free to establish our own truthful sexual identity and live dignified, transparent lives.

Michael Tillemans, Minneapolis


Emergency declaration shows once again that Trump keeps promises

Some people are upset about President Donald Trump’s plan to build more border wall and initiate other border security.

What some people forget is that the president keeps his promises. He promised a tax cut; it happened. He promised to nominate conservative judges; he did. He promised to move the American Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem; he did. Now he is fulfilling his promise to secure our border. He will do whatever it takes to keep his promise.

Members of Congress are complaining, but they have had years to fix immigration law and have done nothing or very little.

Many newspeople say that the president had control of the House and Senate for two years and they did nothing about immigration. We all know it takes 60 votes in the Senate.

Jerry Papenfuss, Winona, Minn.

• • •

Regarding the recently declared national emergency: I can only describe the way the world looks from where I sit. My view is necessarily limited. However, what I know is that I don’t feel unsafe because of caravans and immigrants. I feel unsafe because of domestic violence and women being shot and killed by their partners in big cities and in small towns around my state. I feel unsafe because of workplace violence and road rage and school shootings and mass shootings that can apparently happen anywhere, at any time. We have so many different kinds of shootings that we need subcategories. The growing normalization of gun violence in this country is incomprehensible. If the president is searching for a national emergency, I have one for him right here.

Karen de Boer, Glencoe, Minn.

• • •

I’m 60 years old and still have never been to Paris. But when I do go — and I know I will — I look forward to seeing beautifully dressed Parisian women in the latest fashion. I look forward to Parisian bistro food and rude Parisian waiters. I look forward to seeing men wearing berets and smoking cigarettes. Why do we want a world without borders? Why do we want a world where every country is a conglomerate of worldwide cultures? I don’t want to see women in burqas in Paris! Why do we want France to look like Saudi Arabia? Why do we want America to morph into Mexico? What is wrong with valuing every country’s unique culture on its own? I want to visit other countries to experience other countries.

What is wrong with saying: If you want to live in a country, then adopt that country as your own. Don’t continue your culture — to the extent of demanding consideration from your adopted host country in accommodating the same way of life and customs that you left — including the language. If you left it for something else, that’s your choice. But do not go to a country and expect that country to accommodate the culture that you walked away from. Otherwise, stay home.

If you want your culture, then stay in your country. If your country has become unsafe, then retake it, don’t abandon it. Rise up and retake your country. Rise up and demand the things you are seeking out in other countries. Because I can be pretty sure that whatever country you want to come to has been through a revolution to make it the culture it is. And if nothing else — that needs to be respected.

Holly Moore, Minneapolis


In Edina, we do in fact mark Valentine’s Day; here’s how

Lest Star Tribune readers think Edina Public Schools has become curmudgeonly when it comes to Valentine’s Day, we wish to clarify a statement in a Feb. 14 article that elementary schools in Edina “don’t celebrate the holiday in class at all.” (“Breaking up with sugar,” part of the “Unsweetened” series supporting the “28-Day Sugar-Free Challenge.”) To the contrary, Edina students do celebrate this holiday of the heart, well … wholeheartedly!

On Feb. 14, a schoolwide day of service at one elementary found students making sandwiches and blankets and packing personal care packages for those in need. At another school, kindness stations in each classroom were busy with students writing personal notes of encouragement and compliments to fellow classmates. And in a middle school, student leaders put Valentine wishes on the lockers of every sixth-grader. Add to that handmade Valentines for residents at the Edina Care Center, friendship posters, an ice-skating party and even a lesson on the history of chocolate. Edina students, guided by thoughtful and creative staff, did celebrate Valentine’s Day by building community and offering friendship and gifts that were truly from the heart.

Mary Woitte, communications coordinator, Edina Public Schools