Wisconsin is not the first state to make a last-ditch legislative effort to undermine an incoming governor’s power. Arizona, Michigan and North Carolina are among states that have also tried this tactic. In 2011, Wisconsin’s Republicans granted newly elected Gov. Scott Walker additional powers, but they have had a change of heart after he was swept out of office in November.
This goes against the obvious wishes of the voters who deliberately chose another party. It makes sense to me that between an election and Inauguration Day no state should be able to limit the power of an institution. Legislators may pass other measures but none that restrain judicial, legislative or executive authority. If there is a law that makes sense the day after an election, it certainly made sense the day before.
Susan Barrett, Mora, Minn.
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The GOP has moved on from voter suppression to election repression. In Wisconsin and Michigan — key swing states — defeated Republicans in lame-duck sessions are ramming through legislation aimed at limiting the authority of incoming Democratic administrations. They’re also working to lock in grotesquely gerrymandered districts that give them seats disproportionate to the voters’ will. It’s an outrage. Eliminating such abuses of power should be a major issue for all Democratic politicians and candidates nationwide.
Pamela J. Snopl, Minneapolis
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Looking at what is happening in Wisconsin, I have two suggestions for the upcoming Minnesota legislative session, both by constitutional amendment to be put on the ballot in the next election.
1. Electoral district boundaries, at both the state and congressional levels, should be drawn by an independent nonpartisan panel.
2. Make lame-duck sessions illegal, except in an emergency (as defined by 80 percent of the Legislature).
Bob Guenter, St. Paul
Eating, worrying, turning knobs are all as distracting as cellphones
Distracted driving is so much more than just cellphone usage. According to the National Highway Transportation Association’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis, 3,450 people were killed in distracted driving accidents in 2016. While it is easy to focus on cellphones because they are searchable following an incident, accidents can be caused by so many other activities and behaviors. Eating while driving, thinking about other responsibilities rather than focusing on the road, having loose pets in the car, adjusting the volume or changing the heat setting can all lead to a crash that could leave some family trying to plan a funeral rather than dinner that night.
To change this, we need to change the culture around driving. People seem to have forgotten that when they get behind the wheel, they are in control of and responsible for a vehicle that has the power of a missile. Not only do they have to watch out for their behavior, but they must remain vigilant to the behavior of all their fellow drivers to reach their destination safely. To do that, it is necessary to focus on the road. That means we stop thinking about that meeting at work, that next project or that challenging client, and, of course, we put the phone down. Let’s start a campaign to simply drive, with no other distracting thoughts or activities while we are behind the wheel.
Lucinda Moody, Brooklyn Center
National pride emerged in viewing funeral service for former president
Watching the church service for President George H.W. Bush made me proud to be an American. It was truly heartwarming to watch from start to finish, with the best part being that we didn’t have to listen to TV pundits tell us what we were experiencing and what it was supposed to mean.
Tom Redman, Victoria
FDA should deem leafy greens high risk until 2011 act is enforced
Your editorial (“Preventing the next E. coli outbreak,” Dec. 1) on the current outbreak of E coli contamination of romaine lettuce rightly laments the delayed implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) of 2011, intended to prevent such contamination and illness. The editorial notes that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) determined that irrigation canal water contaminated romaine lettuce in an outbreak ending in June 2018.
E. coli is a bacterium that resides in human and animal guts. The most likely source of the harmful strain of E. coli that killed two Minnesota women in 2018 is liquid manure from agricultural animal feeding operations that ran off into the irrigation canal. Agribusiness opposition to FSMA prevented the FDA from issuing an agricultural water rule until 2022, as the editorial notes. If this delay allows harmful bacteria in water used to grow food, outbreaks of food-borne illness will increase.
The editorial praises the produce industry for collaborating “admirably” with the FDA on a new lettuce labeling plan. However, this collaboration, over Thanksgiving weekend, resulted merely in an interim voluntary scheme.
FSMA requires the FDA to identify high-risk foods subject to detailed production practice documentation. If the FDA will not require all links in the meat supply chain to prevent the contamination of produce, it must at least designate leafy greens as a high-risk food.
Steve Suppan, Minneapolis
The writer is a senior policy analyst for the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy.
Disputing the interpretation of facts in U.S.-Dakota War
The difference between a historian and a polemicist is the willingness to deal with all the facts as they are found. The description of the encampment around Fort Snelling in 1862 as benignly intended to protect the forced inhabitants (“Counterpoint: U.S.-Dakota exhibit has some things wrong,” Dec. 3) needs to be judged against the unwillingness of the author to even mention that the American Indian encampment was dissolved by the gunpoint relocation of 3,700 Indians to South Dakota.
Erich Russell, Bloomington
Illustration should have depicted wider range of yoga enthusiasts
Yikes! According to a Star Tribune illustration for the article “Hatha or hot? Vinyasa or yin?” on Dec. 4, only white women appear to enjoy yoga. Pictured in cartoon fashion are silhouettes of only fair-skinned women. Odd, since this is practically 2019. If the Star Tribune is considered the “People’s Paper,” it ought to represent all people doing a diversity of activities. Just sayin’.
Sharon E. Carlson, Andover