Often, it hinges on transportation

A recent letter titled "Willingness to work may not be enough" was much appreciated but left out one very daunting obstacle to many who need a job: transportation.

Imagine a woman with two children living in north Minneapolis who would love to take a job in one of the suburbs.

She has to take a bus to get one child to day care and see that another gets to school, then get on another bus to get herself to the job -- maybe (probably) with a transfer or even two -- and reverse the process at the end of the day.

Women often have to have jobs to keep a family afloat, yet we wonder why families are poor and children aren't read to every evening and why families eat fast food and don't have lovely home cooked meals every day.

Women and children suffer the most in the short run, but society suffers badly in the long run when children don't thrive and have to be dragged here and there so that their exhausted mother can get some miserable, painful, low-paying job.

Unemployed men are not likely to have a reliable car, either, and often find that job opportunities are literally out of reach.


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A very complicated thing to comply with

The latest article arguing for all retailers to pay tax in all 11,000-plus tax jurisdictions in this country ("The debate over online sales tax heats up," Nov. 27) didn't talk about the downside of such regulations.

The U.S. Supreme Court outlawed states from forcing such sales tax compliance in 1992 because it was so burdensome for companies to comply with all the laws around the country. These laws have gotten even longer and more difficult to comply with since 1992.

The main problem is of course the extremely high administrative costs for small companies to figure out the rules, tax their customers and file reports with all these jurisdictions.

The proposed laws don't just affect Internet companies; they would add extra burdens to any firm that ships its products across state lines. There is software that takes care of many of these issues, but it is very expensive.

If states and localities were truly serious about eliminating the compliance costs for retailers, they would provide free software to retailers that would allow easy compliance with the rules for each jurisdiction.

If a firm paid the wrong sales tax due to reliance on this free software, the firm would have no liability. Until the states implement this simple solution, it doesn't make sense to burden small businesses with such a law. Absent this solution, the states and localities will continue to complicate their sales tax laws, even as they complain about lack of compliance.


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Let's raise the bar for amendments

With the growing interest in using state constitutional amendments to pass what should rightfully be done through the legislative process, it is time to consider a constitutional amendment that would require greater legislative approval of proposed constitutional amendments.

Minnesota is one of only 10 states that require a simple majority of both legislative bodies in one session to approve a proposed amendment before it is presented to voters.

Most other states require a supermajority of both legislative bodies, with a two-thirds approval being the most common. This is consistent with the process to amend the U.S. Constitution.

Our federal and state Constitutions are intended to protect the rights of our citizens and establish the basic order of government.

While having the means to amend them is important, requiring supermajority approval of the Legislature would help ensure that the purpose of both the state Constitution and the legislative process are honored and upheld.


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Is downtown getting the needed support?

As is our custom, my sister, a friend and I attended the opening parade of the 2011 Holidazzle, and as usual, we had a marvelous time. Downtown Minneapolis looked spectacular; the weather was balmy on Friday evening; the lights on the floats were dazzling, and the crowd was energized.

However, as much as we all appreciated the sponsorships of the parade, we were quite struck, concerned even, by the noticeable absences of many major downtown organizations.

We understand fully the attraction of downtown and the many reasons why these companies have wanted to locate their businesses there. Here is an opportunity for them to step forward now and support it!