Thumbs Up and Down – Views by the Echo Press March 23Thumbs Up: Oftentimes in this busy world, it’s easy to take for granted what a small community offers. Bonnie and Hardy Huettl want to change that by sending a “thumbs up” to Grand Arbor in Alexandria.
College students’ Capitol effort
Thumbs Up: You have to admire the work of a group of Concordia University political science students in St. Paul. They saw flaws in a state law, came up with solid reasons for changing it and are helping drive through new legislation. They’re calling the effort, “No Boozin’ and Cruzin’ in Minnesota.” Current law gives legislators immunity from being arrested during the legislative session – even if they’re caught driving drunk. The students, rightly so, found the provision – what amounts to a “get out of jail card” – appalling and outrageous. Their legislation (SF 2226 and HF 1838) would amend the law to make impaired driving a punishable offense for legislators. “Legislators shouldn’t be above the laws – plain and simple,” the students said. Among the students who are involved in the effort is Ariel Buczak from Alexandria. The bill is making good progress. Last week, the Minnesota House Public Safety Committee passed it unanimously and sent the legislation straight to the House floor for a vote expected soon. The students are setting a good example of how a unified, focused effort and common-sense approach can get things done at the Legislature.
Caring care at Grand Arbor
Thumbs Up: Oftentimes in this busy world, it’s easy to take for granted what a small community offers. Bonnie and Hardy Huettl want to change that by sending a “thumbs up” to Grand Arbor in Alexandria. Bonnie’s parents moved from Maple Grove to Grand Arbor in December. “It is a beautiful building but beyond that façade is a staff of quality people with huge hearts,” she said. “Due to a calamity of events, my parents needed to quickly move from independent living to assisted living after being there only three weeks. The staff including Heidi, Jodi, Brittney, Nancy, Tim and all the others whose names I never knew, worked as a team to make the move happen within a short 24 hours. From coordinating a trip to the hospital to getting home care staff available and the actual moving of furniture was outstanding.” She added that this is but one example of how a caring community can make a difference in someone’s life.
Photo ID problems
Thumbs Down: The more we delve into the debate over requiring photo ID, the more skeptical we’re becoming. The Republican-led Minnesota Legislature is pushing the measure through and wants to put it before voters as a constitutional amendment this fall. A letter to the editor in the Star Tribune this week raised just one problem with the requirement: What if the photo presented is not a spitting image of the voter? The writer noted that his driver’s license photo shows him sporting a full beard and long hair, which he has since shaved and cut. He asked a simple but legitimate question: “What will happen at the precise instant a polling place volunteer denies someone their vote because they think the person doesn’t look like their photo?” More questions loom as well: What would stop someone from using a fake ID? Do we really want to end same-day voter registration (vouching would no longer be allowed)? How easy will it be for those without the proper identification to get it and will they take the trouble to do so? And is voter fraud that big of a problem in Minnesota to change the constitution? Voter ID is one of those laws that could very well create more problems than solutions.
Thumbs Up: It was good to see the speed radar trailer out and about in Alexandria this week. One of the sites was along a busy stretch of County Road 22 where the speed limit is 40 miles per hour. Drivers who cruised past it could see in a flash just how fast they were going – and so could other drivers. It’s a good method of getting drivers to watch their speed more closely. Now it just has to stick with them after it’s wheeled to a new location.
Fish license increase
Thumbs Up: No one likes to pay higher fees but an increase in Minnesota’s hunting and fishing licenses is overdue. The increase is needed to keep the Department of Natural Resources from going into the red next summer. The fees haven’t been raised in 11 years – the longest interval between fee increases in 40 years. Much is at stake here. The DNR would be forced to cut positions. It wouldn’t be able to conduct fish and game surveys that help it manage wildlife. It wouldn’t be able to devote as much time to enforcement. Local fish stocking efforts would suffer. Conservation groups from around the state have stepped up to try to get a bill passed. More than 60 conservation and environmental organizations have signed on in support of raising the license fees. Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, who is chair of the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee, authored a bill to increase the fishing license fee from $17 to $24. A resident small-game license would rise from $19 to $22 and a resident deer license would go from $26 to $30. Resident youth fishing licenses would actually decrease from $17 to $12. If passed, the new fees would go into effect in March of 2013. It should be enacted – for the sake of our lakes, fish and wildlife for generations to come.