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State Rep. Dave Lislegard’s counterpoint (“We know mining. Our laws, processes work,” Sept. 3) says that Iron Rangers “will be here to hold companies accountable for their environmental performance.” When you take a closer look at the companies that have bankrolled Rep. Lislegard’s campaign, however, you have to wonder who is holding whom accountable.

According to a filed 2018 year-end campaign finance report, Lislegard received more than $50,000 in campaign contributions, most of them from the companies he claims that he will hold accountable for environmental pollution. He received the maximum $1,000 from: CEO of PolyMet Jon Cherry, Vice President and Treasurer of Cleveland Cliffs Celso Goncalves, PolyMet VP Bruce Richardson, Allete CEO and PolyMet Director Alan Hodnik, four other members of the Hodnik family, Enbridge VP John Swanson, and Christopher Knight, publisher of the unabashedly pro-mining Mesabi Daily News.

Former Twin Metals VP Anne Williamson, plus lobbyists for PolyMet (including PolyMet VP of Public Affairs Brad Moore) and other mines and the steel industry all made contributions of $250 or above.

Not only did nearly all of Lislegard’s campaign funds come from companies and groups that stand to make money if copper-nickel mines open, he also works for Lakehead Constructors, which works as a contractor for the mining and steel industries. But none of this was disclosed in his commentary piece.

Minnesotans should connect the dots and recognize the influence these contributors have over Lislegard’s expressed opinion.

Janet Entzel and Steve Timmer

Entzel is a former DFL state representative from Minneapolis and former assistant commissioner of the Department of Corrections; Timmer is a retired Edina attorney.

GUNS

Don’t pretend there are no solutions. Students have some.

Leave it to our young people to bring forth a thoughtful and practical solution to the infestation of guns in this country. The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School group presented several sensible proposals.

It proposed a national licensing and gun registry, with annual license renewals. How would that impinge on the Second Amendment? We license and register our autos, and authorities can easily access that information when needed. Besides, cities could profit from collected fees. Taxpayers might even gain something from this hobby.

The students also proposed a ban on assault weapons and ammunitions and a mandatory gun-buyback program for assault weapons. I can hear the howls already. But what decent human wants to own a weapon that can shoot bullets that can explode inside a victim?

Third, they propose limits on gun purchases and raising the age for purchases.

All are sensible ideas that should be considered by our leaders. Somehow, the people crying “do something” to their elected representatives must take matters in their own hands and vote in those who will not be beholden to the influence of the National Rifle Association and dependent on its contributions for re-election.

Dorothy Ollmann, Edina

NATIONAL DEBT

The estate tax, updated, must stay

As the Trump administration continues to accelerate the transfer of wealth from the working class to the very rich, one mechanism it and its Republican colleagues are pushing for is the elimination of the estate tax. That tax is levied on the estate of a deceased person whose assets exceed several million dollars. At the same time, the administration is suggesting cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits because the nation is seeing an ever-larger deficit.

We need to head in the opposite direction. One solution is to institute a graduated annual asset tax when a person’s assets exceed, say, $5 million. Start out at an annual 5% tax on assets exceeding that amount. As one’s wealth increases, so does the tax rate, topping out at, say, 75% per year. We could think of this approach as a “pre-death estate tax,” simply moving the estate tax forward in time.

This approach avoids many of the current tax loopholes built into the income tax system and acknowledges the important distinction between “income” and “wealth.” We would prohibit the export of capital by tax dodgers who no doubt would attempt to avoid paying their fair share by moving assets out of the country. This approach would bring the deficit down quickly.

John Gehan, St. Paul

IMMIGRATION

Detention happens in our state, too

Up here in Sherburne County, we’ve gained notoriety for having one of the largest Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facilities in the Upper Midwest, detaining 300 immigrants at any given time. The county sheriff and officials would have you think that’s all OK because, well, aw shucks, they’re just Minnesota Nice.

But ICE is ICE, and the atrocities are still atrocities. Detainees are still separated from their families. The county sheriff and officials say Sherburne is different; that they are humane. Hmm. All visits are via video calls. They think that’s better because relatives from anywhere can “visit.” But these detainees never get face-to-face with loved ones. How is that “humane”?

The Sherburne County sheriff can rattle off statistics on all of the crimes committed by detainees. Many of those “crimes,” though, are the result from a broken immigration system that does not give them a path to citizenship or even a driver’s license.

Sherburne County Jail is part of the ICE detention system; part of the Department of Homeland Security.

There is no gray area. Either you are part of the draconian system that is ICE, or you are not.

Now is the time to defund hate and get ICE out of Sherburne County and Minnesota!

Nancy Hassett, Big Lake, Minn.

Frank Scouten, Zimmerman, Minn.

Rose Thelen, Clearwater, Minn.

RIGHT TO REPAIR

Repair is good. Breaking laws and voiding warranties is not.

The Association of Equipment Manufacturers represents the manufacturers of farm equipment. Our members’ customers, and thus our customers, are farmers.

Manufacturers and dealers of farm equipment have a shared incentive with their customers to minimize downtime and maximize productivity. Agriculture equipment manufacturers and dealers are empowering our customers to choose how their equipment will be maintained and repaired. Our industry has voluntarily committed to providing the tools and information needed to properly, safely and legally diagnose and repair their own equipment.

Activists pushing so-called “right to repair” legislation seek unfettered access to the software that governs onboard technology in sophisticated farm and construction machines and equipment, putting the safety and security of users at risk. It also allows tampering with engine controls (also called “chipping” or “tuning”); illegal under the Clean Air Act.

Beyond running afoul of federally mandated safety and emissions requirements, these practices undermine manufacturers’ innovation and intellectual property and void valuable warranties.

While the equipment industry supports customers repairing their own equipment, we do not support breaking federal safety and environmental laws.

Dennis Slater, Milwaukee

The writer is president of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers.

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