What Issues Should the Minnesota Legislature Focus on in 2013?

With so many challenges on the table, Patch wants to know what issues you think are most important.


With another legislative session just around the corner, senators and representatives have no shortage of challenges ahead of them.

Lawmakers plan to convene hearings on gun control in the wake of the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT. They’ll review a recommendation from a governor-appointed task force to increase gas taxes and tab fees in response to a projected $50 billion shortfall in transportation funding. The DFL majority and defeat of the marriage amendment in the 2012 election could even prompt the Legislature to take up the issue of gay marriage.

And looming over everything is a projected $1.1 billion deficit that legislators will have to close before adjourning for the year.

With so many issues on the table, Patch wants to know what issues you think should take priority when the Legislature convenes Jan. 8. Should it be tax reform? Transportation? Education? Social issues? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Markus January 05, 2013 at 10:55 PM
"The notion saying that government is bad says we are bad. If you criticize government you are in fact criticizing yourself – not a bad thing to do if you are interested in becoming better rather then “reduce government” - meaning you make yourself smaller, weaker, become the slave! " ??????! Let me get this straight. A better person is a weak slave to a big government? You seemingly have a difficult time articulating your positions, so correct me if I'm wrong. If I criticize government, I'm criticizing you most likely because I didn't vote for most of the morally bankrupt politicians who run the state and the country and you probably did. People like you have found that the politicians are more than happy to take from us producers and give to the non-producers just as long as the non-producers continue to cast their vote for them. Capitalism always serves us. How can it not? In a free market, there is no coercion. The market determines the price and availability of a product or service and you as the purchaser can decide if it's worth parting with your government issued green printed paper or not. It is really simple. Walmart is there to make a profit and nothing else. If they don't serve us well, they won't make a profit and someone with a better business model will step in and fill the void. Don't equate capitalism to Washington sponsored crony capitalism and corporatism. They're not the same thing, although Michael Moore would have you think so.
Susan January 06, 2013 at 12:24 AM
resident, being a moderate Democrat, I can't even go along with this statement: "“reduce government” - meaning you make yourself smaller, weaker, become the slave!" I think you might want a refresher course on a Constitutional Republic. "A Constitutional Republic is a state where the officials are elected as representatives of the people, and must govern according to existing constitutional law that limits the government's power over citizens." "A Constitutional Republic is the current form of government in the United States. However in recent years, many people have criticized the federal government for moving away from a Constitutional Republic, as defined by the Constitution, and towards a pure democracy". Ron Paul (this one was for you, Markus). We are not the government, resident, we vote for people who best represent our personal values, to RUN the government, according and adhering to the Constitution. I understand how and why you are attempting to make this argument, but it does not represent how our government actually works and/or the role the people have in said government.
Susan January 06, 2013 at 12:48 AM
Here is a better question regarding Walmart: Why is it okay with the consumers at Walmart that three of the Walton family members are three of the richest people in this country yet their workers are paid so poorly that most are part of the 47% that don't pay any income taxes? Yes, it's capitalism, but if the consumers would get wise they would see that saving 50 cents, or even two dollars on something is hurting not only the workers, but the country (in regards to income taxes), nothing will change. Saving the almighty buck is what is driving people to Walmart and until consumers are willing to take a stand, the Waltons will get richer and the workers, although grateful to have a job, will continue to be paid so poorly that they don't have to pay income tax and will continue to be a drain on the government through handouts (that most need to survive). Who benefits here and who is on the losing end? Markus is right in saying that the market corrects itself here, but CONSUMERS need to make the change, not the government.
Joyce January 06, 2013 at 01:08 AM
I don't have the time to go back and see who posted what so I can directly answer each claim, so I'll address just a few together. Government regulation stifles competition? Really? There were no monopolies before the federal antitrust laws were enacted? If not, then why do you suppose those laws were needed? As for no one being 'forced' to shop at Walmart, well, yes, in a sense no one is forced, but when Walmart undercuts all the other local businesses, forcing them to shut down, you can 'choose' to shop elsewhere but you won't have many nearby options. In some less populated areas, Walmart is the only option for many miles. Moreover, Walmart does more than drive out smaller local businesses, creating a virtual monopoly for itself; it also creates a monopsony. That is, as the largest and often the sole purchaser of manufactured goods, it can set the wholesale prices, effectively putting some suppliers out of business as well, making overseas suppliers the only ones available. Then, of course, there is the fact that taxpayers subsidize the billions of dollars the Walton family members get in income; by paying many of their employees so little that they qualify for food stamps, MA and the EITC, the owners of Walmart are able to take in a lot more in profit at taxpayer expense. Nice work if you can get it...
Leslie Bowar January 06, 2013 at 04:38 PM
Family Law REFORM. Courts are hurting many MN families, and it does not belong there for the most part. Families are our country's backbone! Really does need reform. I have seen so much destruction. Given the opportunity, I will do my part and present and submit many ideas that would work for families.
Joyce January 06, 2013 at 05:44 PM
Markus, do you also think the general public should be allowed to use the facilities at a country club or a place like Lifetime Fitness without paying dues? Do you think dues should be optional and people should be able to benefit without any obligation to support the facility?
Gary Doan January 06, 2013 at 06:32 PM
Walmart does not have a monopoly, Target and many others compete with them. The labor monopoly is out to get them and they have the government monopoly at their side. Anyone can compete with Walmart, but you can not get most government contracts if you are not unionized. If you go against them, they will regulate you out of business or intimidate you with their union foot soldiers, like they are doing to Walmart and other free market companies. Unions claim China is the problem, but try and buy clothes, electronics or just about any consumer products that are not made in Asia. They won the business, in a free market, even with our government trying to protect unions, with tariffs, duties, regulations and protests. All of which the consumer pays for at the cash register and in taxes.
Markus January 06, 2013 at 11:05 PM
Joyce, your analogy doesn't even come close. Try again. Paying union dues should not be a condition of employment. Particularly if a large portion of the dues are going for left wing activism (which is largely the case) in order to further the fleece the employee via higher taxes.
Markus January 07, 2013 at 03:13 AM
It's more than just a little ironic that Joyce rails on a company that provides low priced products to consumers through smart business practices with zero coercion, labeling them monopolistic, while fully supporting the biggest monopoly known to man that operates by total coercion, the Federal Government. It doesn't take an Austrian Economist to know that antitrust laws were enacted and exist to expand government power and provide nifty ways for the politicians to help their cronies "compete" against companies that supposedly had/have a corner on the market. Businesses corner markets all the time, but it's always only temporary. The market makes sure of that, only when allowed to work of course. Unfortunately, we haven't seen much in the way of a true free market for the last century due to government intervention. We could eliminate corporate income taxes to make US companies more competitive with the rest of the world. That would give Walmart less incentive to go to China for their goods. Here's another good idea. Let's make it a little harder for Walmart to pay low wages by increasing the threshold for collecting all those government benefits that Joyce is so fond of. We used to laud innovation when it came to better ways to distribute products and services. There is always going to be casualties in the free market. Ask the guy who used to work at the typewriter factory. Walmart has only benefited consumers and made a profit. Exactly what they should do.
Joshua January 07, 2013 at 01:21 PM
I think Minnesota should take a serious look at doing something (if even possible) about THIS: http://gis.co.dakota.mn.us/ve/foreclosures/map.html And this is just Dakota county's sheriffs. If you want a reality check, go ahead and enable January through December. Also keep in mind the peak was several years ago.
Emily B January 07, 2013 at 01:58 PM
Irving, interesting you give Walmart as the example. In some communities Walmart IS the only place they have to shop, because they've undercut all the community businesses and they've closed. Then Walmart raises prices and people have no choice.
Markus January 07, 2013 at 02:32 PM
What do you want them to do?
Joshua January 07, 2013 at 03:03 PM
I'm not really sure, but perhaps modify the state laws regarding deficiency judgments... either make it easier for the banks to pursue it or on the flip side make it more difficult for an owner to walk away from a property (e.g. suffer greater legal or financial ramifications). While I'm quite aware of the rampant predatory lending that most likely caused this epidemic, I'm also quite aware of owners who are financially sound and then "strategically defaulting" on their properties... those who can very well afford the mortgage but choose not for whatever reasons. I have a hunch that this has occurred in my neighborhood, and THEIR actions reflect on the value of MY property. My house is so underwater right now, I can't even qualify for a refinance. And the mortgage is owned by Lehman Bros, so I don't qualify for HARP, either. The more my neighbors foreclose, the more my house value tanks. I dunno. My two cents.
Markus January 07, 2013 at 04:11 PM
What I find interesting is the "strategic defaults" that you referred to. I see properties listed for sale gutted of cabinets, appliances, garage doors, etc. These people stop paying their mortgage, live in their house for a year or two until the sheriff finally comes and kicks them out and then strip the house and walk away with no consequences!? Whatever happened to the concept of contract law? The banks are also strategically foreclosing so as to not flood the market with distressed properties. It's ironic that the government is attempting to re-inflate the housing bubble. It's classic. The government does exactly what caused the problem in an attempt to fix the problem. Sorry to hear you're upside down. You can place the blame squarely on the federal government.
Al Anderson January 07, 2013 at 09:24 PM
The left believes that business exists to pay taxes (which are passed on to the consuming public) or to provide union jobs. Imagine if we held high standards of our federal/state/local/school government entities like leftists believe businesses should be
Jim Flaherty January 07, 2013 at 11:18 PM
What is going to happen when or if the housing market rebounds? There have been no foreclosures around my house and my value has gone down by 35 to 40% in the last 6 years. On the other hand I still pay more in taxes now (real dollars) than ever. If the housing prices rebound by half my taxes will go up a few thousand dollars. How stupid was I not to refinance every other year and live off of the money. I could walk away with cash in my pocket and stuck it to the MAN. Or I could have done just what I did and pay down my balance and live in my house instead of for my house. I bought my house as a place to live not and not as an investment. There are way too many people acting like the banks made them buy a house they could not afford. Then the banks held a gun to their heads and made them borrow more money against the house to buy a new car and a new boat then a new truck to pull the 4 wheelers and so on. People need to stop blaming others for their over spending. What do we all work for the federal government and can just spend, spend, spend.
Rebecca Grant January 09, 2013 at 08:11 AM
Markus.....I am from Fridley but I have been living in Texas for almost 20 years now. Texas is a right to work state. You really are mistaken about this law. It is a horrible law.....wages are low, and benefits are becoming more and more scarce in the workplace. Yes, corporations began moving their businesses here, so it makes the state look good, statistically, but the number of people living below the poverty line grows every year. 24% of Texas residents do not have any health insurance. Unions are non-existent, and it shows....construction on homes and buildings is shoddy, including electrical and plumbing and roofing.....horrible. It's hard to find anyone who is qualified to fix things in your home or car correctly. The money people waste down here to find someone who can "get it right" is ridiculous. My husband works for a world-wide corporation who moved to Texas to reduce their costs through cheaper labor. Factory work is minimum wage and it is rare in some factories to get increases, even if you have been working for several years. They don't have to have a reason to fire you or let you go, you cannot bring legal action against a business for being treated poorly in the workplace, and it is difficult to qualify for unemployment benefits.....this is all due to the right to work law in this state. People in Minnesota are treated well due to the respect given worker's unions and state laws....find a way to live with a little less money and enjoy your life!
Rebecca Grant January 09, 2013 at 08:44 AM
I think it is a bad sign for our future when you have citizens who don't believe in self-government, who don't believe in or trust their own elected officials, who don't appreciate the fact that they, individual citizens, really have all the power in their hands to make changes to their own government...but would rather hand over all their power to the bankers on Wall Street and Corporate interests who knock on the doors of our elected officials every day and make themselves heard. These business executives and Wall Street fund managers who make millions every year off of average people are quickly becoming the aristocracy....our new monarchs/dictators in this country. They don't want to pay their fair share, they are slowly pushing through legislation to weight the system in their favor, and to reduce the amount of regulations which protect civilians from their greed. There is a laziness on the part of U.S. citizens who listen to propaganda and media, those who are only interested in high ratings to attract more sponsors. No one wants to do any real research into the issues and be in constant contact with their representatives to voice their opinions. We have not done enough as citizens to control campaign finance, and as a result, our politicians have to spend several hours a day and weekends fundraising...they don't have time to read the details of the bills they are being asked to pass. It is WE who are pathetic and lazy, and don't appreciate what we have in our hands.
Markus January 09, 2013 at 03:00 PM
Rebecca wrote: "You really are mistaken about this law. It is a horrible law" "Unions are non-existent" If union membership is so great, wouldn't workers be clamoring to join them? Workers in Texas have a choice (I'm willing to bet you're pro-choice in other areas) and choose to exercise it by not joining the union. Why do you think that is? Could it be they see no direct benefit to paying union dues? Could it be that they see most unions are thinly disguised left wing lobbying organizations and they prefer not to participate? You referred to not being able to get your car repaired properly because of the lack of union membership. I owned an auto repair shop for 21 years and we were not unionized. No independent shops in MN are. Many of us belonged to an association of which I was on the board for many years. Our member shops were typically well operated shops with well trained technicians and happy customers. There is a large chapter in Texas that has similar membership. If you can't find a good place to get your car fixed, you're looking in the wrong place. I have literally dozens of acquaintances who are in the construction industry in MN as well, all do exceptional work and none belong to unions. You can't equate quality to union membership. Show us some empirical data to suggest otherwise. If you accept shoddy work, that is on you. There are qualified tradesmen, you have to find them as you do anywhere.
Markus January 09, 2013 at 04:21 PM
"I think it is a bad sign for our future when you have citizens who don't believe in self-government," "It is WE who are pathetic and lazy, and don't appreciate what we have in our hands." If you're talking about the 47% I wholeheartedly agree. The producers who fund this system that banksters, corporations, unions and private individuals have found they can vote themselves benefits from at the expense of their fellow citizens would probably resent being lumped into that category. The government has in essence codified immorality (stealing) in tax law. "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." ~ John Adams “A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship” ~ Alexander Tytler 1787
Gary Doan January 09, 2013 at 04:54 PM
We should never have professional politicians, they should be regular people who return to their normal jobs and lives after a short service, like jury duty.
Gary Doan January 09, 2013 at 05:06 PM
Government is not the answer its the problem. We have all been programmed to believe the government can solve our problems and take care of us. Capitalism is not a bad thing, it is basic commerce and has been around since the dawn of time. It is the basis of every successful society. The problem arises when the government starts picking winners and losers, not the free market. Businesses are forced to play along and some take advantage of government to win, by using money to buy politicians. People and companies are held accountable, but religions, government and even unions are not, because of the belief they are doing good for the masses, whether they are no not. Big government, is a requirement of Marxism and Marxism is basically a religion, because it ignores facts and relies on beliefs, that can't be questioned. Success should based on accomplishment, personal or corporate and can not be guaranteed by government. Every individual should be responsible and accountable. If companies treat their employees badly, the employees should leave and if companies make a bad product, they will be put out of business, by companies who make better products. This is fair and creates balance, government creates neither fairness or balance.
Rebecca Grant January 09, 2013 at 06:32 PM
Markus.....I am not talking about the 47%, with whom you believe are lazy and just want government handouts....I don't think our veterans or our elderly are lazy people who just want handouts. I believe elderly people paid into our entitlement programs and deserve to receive the benefits of their investment. I believe our veterans who were drafted or volunteered to defend our country with their lives did so under the assumption that they would receive benefits in return. They aren't looking for a handout....they just want what they were promised. I don't know of a Democrat or a liberal who doesn't believe in creating or investing in an entitlement program without finding a way to pay for it. Conservatives have always tagged liberals as the "tax and spend" party.....well, yes....if you want to spend government money, you need to produce the revenue to offset the spending. And the cheapest way to do it is to spread the cost out so everyone has skin in the game. Keep in mind that it has rarely been Democrats who have run up the national debt. Republicans like to attribute all the current deficit spending and increase in the national debt as something Obama and the Democrats CHOSE to do, willingly. They did not. It was Bush policies that created the mess we are in, and Republicans have done everything possible to try to thwart efforts to turn it all around. They know better. They choose to operate this way. Medicare, Social Security are what people seem to want.
Gary Doan January 09, 2013 at 06:52 PM
Rebecca Grant- People pay for Medicare and Social Security, but some never collect a dime, because they don't live long enough to collect. Government regulation and mismanagement of the money collected is the problem. You are right that veteran's and the elderly are not freeloaders. You blame Republicans and specifically Bush, but you fail to mention that Congress actually spends our money, not the President, who should only have veto power. The Democrats controlled Congress and determined spending, not Bush. Clinton gets the benefit of having spending restrained by a conservative Congress, which helped lead to economic growth. Government is the pinnacle of inefficiency, because they are not held accountable, like free enterprise is.
Markus January 09, 2013 at 07:00 PM
So who exactly is "pathetic and lazy" then? Those who work hard, invest and save, only to have the fruits of their labor confiscated and distributed to those who didn't earn it? Regarding the elderly, yes, they should get what's been promised to them. However, the elderly expecting a payout on what they paid in should have paid attention to history. Governments are woefully inept at predicting and planning for the future. It was predicted back in the 1960's that Social Security and Medicare were unsustainable but people apathetically continued to pay into a defunct system with some sort of irrational blind faith that the government would fix the problem and they would get theirs. I have been planning to NOT get Social Security or Medicare since I've been in my twenties. I have lived frugally, paid off my house, and saved my money (only to have it earn .15% interest because of federal monetary policy). The government confiscates a large portion of my income at the point of a gun and I get virtually no benefit. What I pay into Social Security funds those currently receiving benefits. I will likely see no benefits. However, I wasn't so ignorant as to expect the federal government to keep its promises and I have a contingency plan. If you expect the government to take care of you, I hope you have low expectations. I have no expectations they will ever do what they say.
yomammy January 09, 2013 at 07:13 PM
Medicaid, Medicare, VA, dozens of state/local funded health agencies and now oblama care....all seperate programs...all soaking those of us that work... you would think they could all be merged into one. But who am i to suggest something as silly as that...
Markus January 09, 2013 at 07:27 PM
This article is a good compliment to my post above. http://www.garynorth.com/public/10521.cfm
Jim Flaherty January 09, 2013 at 07:48 PM
This would be called socialized health care and is what I think Obama wants in the future.
Sa March 18, 2013 at 11:27 AM
I agree: Focus on: 1. removing duplicate laws and laws with in the law 2. we have hate crime bill/women against violence/rape/abuse. all under the law of do not harm another. 3. discrimination yet government is the biggest offender and has exceptions to the law. Discrimination law then government should not: 1. allow apps to have age/race/gender just citizen and non 2. aid based not on with or with out family by need only 3. insurance all kinds remove age/race/gender/history of family 4. grants/scholarships not by race/grade/sports 5. taxes flat tax all pay = % of earned income. does not matter rich/poor/middle class married or not married. 6. remove gifting tax unless we tax the money to those who receive aid. this indirectly is a gift. 7. government now wants to know when a person helps someone who and how much. Why? they are not writing it off. When did we allow government to say we can not help or if friend and family paint your house due to lead law you cannot give them money to thank them or buy pizza otherwise your paying for a service. We should not pass laws and have exceptions to the rule.
yomammy March 18, 2013 at 12:25 PM
I am ALMOST for it...jsut get rid of the duplicate friggin systems we have!!!! we dont need a dozen agencies doing the SAME thing!!! too much overhead!!! ---that and ANY .gov program is doomed to massive overruns and mismanagement.


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