I find it fascinating that GOP state Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer (former Minnesota secretary of state, for eight years) spent the entire past legislative session pushing back against current Secretary of State Steve Simon’s increasingly urgent requests to release $6.6 million federal that had already been approved to strengthen the security of our state elections. Kiffmeyer’s stalling tactics included skipping (along with two other GOP senators) two committee meetings that were supposed to discuss and approve the funds. On the weekend before the second committee meeting, Kiffmeyer told the Star Tribune, “You’re being hacked all the time, I am. This is no big thing.” She never offered another explanation for her blocking of funds meant to be used to keep our votes safe.
The funds were finally approved, and Kiffmeyer has done a head-snapping 180, now saying that Simon “must put those funds to use urgently so we are prepared for the next election” (“State is rushing to protect elections,” July 28). What has changed? I don’t think it was Robert Mueller’s testimony that the Russians never stopped hacking us. That was common knowledge, and the Republicans on both the state and federal level have been perfectly fine with that. After all, the Russian thumb on the scale certainly seems to have helped Donald Trump ascend to the presidency.
So, I ask again — what has changed? Perhaps Kiffmeyer and other Republicans are waking up to the fact that Russia is not the only country trying to hack us. China, Iran and other countries are seeking to duplicate Russia’s success. And if that happens, they might have different goals — perhaps even goals that are inimical to those of GOP voters and legislators. Hmm.
Theresa J. Lippert, St. Paul
Importation doesn’t fix a thing
What sense does it make to import drugs from Canadian pharmacies to obtain reasonable prices? (“Plan OKs import of drugs to ease costs,” front page, Aug. 1.) Why must we continue to pay many times more for drugs than other countries? America certainly has the demand volume and purchasing power to buy those same drugs direct from their manufacturing sources. We also have the bargaining power to receive the same pricing as every other country in the world, parity pricing at a standardized price for all.
Patients don’t have the ability to declare a drug strike or drug holiday, especially by forgoing lifesaving medications. We must rely on our medical-industrial complex and representative politicians to negotiate and work for needed pricing reforms. It is somewhat pathetic when a Band-Aid proposal such as a 20-day emergency insulin supply becomes a major headline!
Our politicians have the luxury of taxpayer-funded liberal medical benefits for themselves, and rely on millions of dollars in annual political donations from drug manufacturers and distributors to support their campaigns and political parties. They have no incentive to buck the system and lack the backbone courage to advance parity pricing to meet our affordability needs. Unfortunately, with the upcoming major elections and major lobby influences, our political leaders will only continue to fail us.
Michael Tillemans, Minneapolis
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The possible exemption of insulin from the Federal Drug Administration plan to allow people in the U.S. to import drugs from Canada and elsewhere is shocking but not unexpected. What did we expect when Alex Azar, the former president of Eli Lilly, was confirmed as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services? During his time at the drug company, from 2012 to 2017, the price of insulin in the U.S. more than doubled. Did Azar and Lilly care about the hardship this imposed on patients? It would appear not. In fact, Azar and Lilly spent more than $7 million in 2016 on lobbying, an obvious effort to blunt the public outcry over their greed.
The FDA also plans to ban the import of biologic agents such as Humira, all very expensive. Perhaps Azar, Donald Trump, and the FDA have developed a new model: the more expensive a drug, the more likely it will be banned. For those suffering from diabetes, cancer and a host of other deadly diseases, this is bad news indeed.
Charles E. Dean, Apple Valley
Good governance with a capital G
My experience working with U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar causes me to take issue with Patrick Condon’s recent column (“ ‘I get things done,’ says Klobuchar,” July 30). The senator has always seemed to me to be an able, committed, effective public servant.
I spent 12 years on the Edina City Council, during which the council traveled yearly to Washington, D.C., to participate in an idea-generating conference with other city leaders. Each year we scheduled meetings with our representatives. Former U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen met personally with us only once, assigning an underling all other times. Klobuchar never did that! She personally attended every meeting and listened to our issues regarding airport noise and other city issues. Klobuchar asked questions, never rushed us out and authored and supported changes that responded to our residents’ concerns.
That is good governance with a capitol G. She is not using “a pile of bills” in order to “sell herself to voters”! The senator’s bills are issues her constituents want addressed. In this time of split government and a Senate majority leader who will not even allow a vote on bills protecting our election process, let’s recognize Klobuchar for the smart, effective leader that she has been and will continue to be.
Ann Swenson, Edina
Debates should be available, even without cable or streaming services
In a democracy, why would critically important candidate debates be available only to people who have the financial/technical resources to access them? I choose not to have cable. I don’t have any “smart” devices, also by choice. My desktop computer is ancient. The first night I was able to bring up CNN on my monitor and watched the debate with only periodic freezes. But the second night, my old computer was overwhelmed. It repeatedly froze while the circling bar told me it was trying to catch up. The final two freezes lasted 10 minutes and 16 minutes, and I gave up. The debate wasn’t over, but it was already nearly three hours in and I was sick of the spinning circle and silence.
No more. All future debates must be available, free, to as much of the population as possible.
Lynn Maderich, St. Paul
NEW DRIVING LAWS
Now, no excuse for phone in hand
The biggest advantage of the “hands-free” cellphone driving law (“Drivers, set your phones down,” front page, Aug. 1) is that it will make the texting restriction easier to enforce. That alone will cause crashes and deaths to go down. I hope the officers are vigilant and aggressive about enforcement.
Bruce Thompson, Plymouth
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I imagine myself driving on a 65 mph highway with traffic in my lane maintaining about 55 mph. I find a large opening, move into the passing lane and accelerate to 65 mph to bypass slower traffic. Traffic in that lane rapidly closes in on me doing 70-75 mph. I am attempting to bypass the slower traffic, but I am holding speeding traffic up, and now I am the one to potentially receive a ticket for maintaining 65 mph? (“Now, slow left-lane drivers risk a ticket,” July 29.)
Elliot Rivera, Prior Lake
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