Opinion editor's note: Star Tribune Opinion publishes letters from readers online and in print each day. To contribute, click here.


The editorial "Minn. group rallies to stand with Ukraine" (April 12) outlines the many critical reasons why the United States must support Ukraine in its efforts to repel the aggression of Russia. Essential aid has been held up in the House of Representatives for months as more Ukrainian soldiers and citizens die. House Speaker Mike Johnson refuses to bring the bipartisan aid package passed by the Senate to the floor for a vote. He is afraid of angering former President Donald Trump and losing his role as speaker, but this is not just a Trump/Johnson debacle.

Minnesota has four Republican members of the U.S. House. Visit the websites of Reps. Tom Emmer, Brad Finstad, Michelle Fischbach and Pete Stauber and you will see little regarding Ukraine. Where do they stand on Ukraine now? Have they taken a position with Speaker Johnson? Are they adopting a hard isolationist stance? Or are they simply waiting for Trump to tell them how to vote?

Ukraine is under siege and all we get from the Minnesota Republican delegation is the sound of crickets.

I challenge Emmer, Finstad, Fischbach and Stauber to state their perspectives in an opinion piece submitted to the Star Tribune. The citizens of Minnesota (and Ukraine) deserve no less.

Phil George, Lakeville


Why the special treatment?

I'm all for making swatting a felony ("Hoax 911 calls could soon be felonies," April 10) but why only for public officials? State House Minority Leader Lisa Demuth says, "[Swatting] puts those first responders at risk. It puts anyone that may be in that home at risk." Those statements are true regardless of whether the target is a public official.

In the United States, everyone is equal before the law. The proposed law treats some citizens as more important than others. It says, "It's OK if you swat a common citizen, but you'd better not swat someone who works for the government."

James Brandt, New Brighton


Just another cheap excuse

Killing the extension of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act again shows how right-wing Republicans and former President, now candidate, Donald Trump act against all Americans for their own political purposes ("Surveillance bill collapses in the House," April 11).

The article states: "Under Section 702, the government is empowered to collect, without warrants, the messages of noncitizens abroad, even when those targeted are communicating with Americans." Right-wing Republicans joined Democrats in removing the ability "that national security officials call crucial to gathering intelligence and fighting terrorism ... ."

Republicans opposed this narrow extension of Section 702 because they have "clamored for a more sweeping FISA overhaul that would severely limit the government's spying powers." They did so by voting against the extension and adding a procedural debate "condemning President Joe Biden's border policies, all but ensuring that no Democrats would vote to advance the package."

Trump erroneously opposed the narrow extension because he was apparently concerned with "a different section of FISA … targeting Americans and people on domestic soil in national security inquiries." That section allowed the FBI to obtain "wiretap orders on a former campaign adviser to his 2016 campaign as part of the Russia investigation."

Both the right-wing Republicans and Trump reject this extension for reasons having nothing to do with Section 702 or protecting American security — and everything to do with their political aims. Furthering political aims at the cost of protecting American from terrorism is un-American.

Elaine Frankowski, Minneapolis


Combine the state's two systems

In Friday's Opinion Exchange, leadership of the University of Minnesota's Board of Regents is pleading for support of the university's legislative funding request ("Why we, as regents, approved the U's funding request," April 12). Early in my career, I worked in higher education administration, first at the state university system and later at the University of Minnesota. I recall in the 1980s and early '90s leadership at both organizations bemoaning a lack of funding for the same needs and the decline in state funding.

As a university graduate (late '60s), I've characterized higher education funding in the pre-1970s as one of few state expenditures benefiting primarily the middle class. You could get a college degree at a reasonable cost and graduate without debt. I remember attending a class on the administration of the National Defense Student Loan program. This and the work/study program were the primary sources of financial aid then. The Legislature in the late '70′s and early '80s decided to fund students rather than institutions, leading to funding of financial aid programs and letting tuition bear a larger portion of higher education funding. The result has been the cost of higher education exceeding the rising cost of health care for several years.

Minnesota has two "systems" of higher education that compete for state funding — the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, which includes state universities, community colleges and vocational/technical schools. Minnesota could use the funding provided to higher education much more effectively if these systems were combined. Certainly, administrative costs could be reduced, but the most valuable benefit would come from more effective leadership in the delivery of postsecondary education.

Demographics tell us that the number of traditional higher education attendees is declining. Furthermore, the cost/benefit analysis of nonprofessional academic higher education will lead many to pursue vocational career opportunities. The current structure of higher education in Minnesota is not preparing our students or our postsecondary institutions well for this momentum shift.

The problem of underfunding needs to be viewed as an opportunity: Use the state funding available better and more effectively by combining our systems of higher education.

Nick LaFontaine, Richfield


Banning porn? Abortion? Yes, please.

The Star Tribune Editorial Board wants to overthrow the Comstock Act because it might be used to restrict abortion ("End the 'zombie' Comstock Act," editorial, April 7). A law professor wants to overthrow it because it might restrict people from "happily" viewing pornography on the internet ("They'll be coming for internet porn next," Opinion Exchange, April 9). As a pastor who has seen the damage that abortion and pornography does to women, men, marriages and children, I would rejoice to see any laws enacted that would restrict abortion and pornography.

Tom Brock, Minneapolis


A sweet and lovely tale

I have to say I loved everything about Steve Yaeger's commentary in the opinion section on his adventure to Texas with his son to share the sighting of the eclipse ("What I saw at the eclipse," April 12). From the various, fun and topic-related provisions that they brought with them — Moon Pies, Sun Chips — to the Corona beers to indulge in later after the experience, along with the description of the different groups of people and where they were located to share this eclipse, I felt I was almost there, too.

Thanks for the well-described experience.

Yaeger should be acknowledged for being an awesome, interactive, caring dad to take the time with his son on this trip. Even cooler was taking the photo of his son in the bluebonnet field to send to his wife. A nice memory to look back on for all.

I hope Yaeger is able to meet up with his son at the next one with those same eclipse glasses.

Deb Schaefgen, Maple Grove