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Lord help me! One of the last things that Minnesota needs is another county! I couldn’t believe it when I read that there is consideration of splitting St. Louis County in two (Minnesota section, March 4).

Let’s consider a couple things: First, Arizona, with a larger size and greater population, has 15 counties and Minnesota has 87. Second, there are similarities in population distribution — heavy concentration in a few metropolitan areas and large sparsely populated stretches. Another comparison: St. Louis County’s 7,000 square miles pales in comparison to Arizona’s largest county, Coconino, with 18,661 square miles, larger than nine of the smallest states. It doesn’t take a genius to conclude that having 87 sets of county government is not as fiscally prudent as having 15. That said, I would suggest that Minnesota consider consolidating counties and eliminating the duplication of county government instead of adding to the problem.

Loren Berg, Rio Verde, Ariz.

MNLARS

This didn’t have to be a fiasco; just follow rules of thumb

It seems obvious that the folks who planned the Minnesota Licensing and Registration System upgrade did not have adequate experience in large software development projects (“Lawmakers roll out plans to repair MNLARS system,” March 7). Otherwise, they would know that the rule of thumb is to take the best estimates from your software engineers, then double it. If it’s a particularly large project — say, more than $10 million — you may need to triple it. If a government agency is involved, add another 50 percent. Take that to the boss or the Legislature for funding and save a lot of embarrassing hassle later.

You also need to have a good answer as to why this would be cheaper than licensing a proven Real-ID-capable registration system from one of the other 49 states and having your crew change all the names in the source code to “Minnesota.”

I know this oversimplifies things, perhaps unreasonably, but the history of large software system deployments contains no track record of reliability when it comes to actual costs and delivery schedules. When are we going to understand this and plan for it before the project begins?

Dennis Fazio, Minneapolis

The writer is a former computer designer and internet services executive.

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Given the mess made of MNLARS, I don’t think the state stands a chance against vote-hacking.

Steven Vandevere, Minnetonka

THE LEGISLATURE AND GUNS

Individuals may be swayed, but this is a party-level issue

I don’t doubt state Rep. Dario Anselmo’s sincerity when he says he supports common-sense gun legislation (“Legislators are people, too — and sometimes an issue just hits home,” Lori Sturdevant column, March 4). But his support doesn’t matter when his own Republican leadership won’t allow any legislation to come to a vote. There simply aren’t enough moderate Republicans to force the NRA-beholden leadership to pass the laws demanded by most Minnesotans.

Dario may care about fixing this issue — his party doesn’t. The only path for change is to flip the state House to the DFL.

Mark Mironer, Minneapolis

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The recent legislation drafted by state Rep. Drew Christensen, R-Prior Lake, should be a wake-up call for Minnesota voters (“State lawmaker moves to ban ‘The Bachelor,’ ” March 9). It is a sad state of affairs when a legislator proposes to ban a reality-television personality from the state but will not take any meaningful action to limit the horrendous impact of guns. It is time to elect legislators who have a moral compass.

Judi Sateren, Minneapolis

SMOKING

Further legislative attention to this matter is welcomed

Thank you to state Rep. Dario Anselmo and state Sen. Carla Nelson for introducing a bill to support statewide quit-smoking services. As a resident of Edina, I am pleased to see Anselmo, as well as Sen. Melisa Franzen, signing on to this essential bipartisan bill. In early 2020, Quitplan Services, the free tobacco cessation services currently available to all Minnesotans, will end. If no action is taken, Minnesota will become the only state in the country not providing access to these services.

Tobacco remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in our state. This bill dedicates a fraction of ongoing tobacco settlement payments — which totaled $168 million in 2017 — to tobacco-cessation services. We owe it to the people of Minnesota to use tobacco settlement money to fund cessation.

In addition to supporting Minnesotans who want to quit, I am very glad to see our legislators supporting a bill to raise the tobacco sales age to 21. By preventing teens from ever starting to use tobacco, we greatly reduce the likelihood of addiction. Edina was the first city in the state to raise the tobacco sales age to 21, and I applaud Anselmo for championing this issue at the state level as a lead author on the bill. Providing services to those who want to quit and preventing our young people from ever starting to use tobacco are great steps toward creating a smoke-free generation and a healthier state for all Minnesotans.

Anne Jasper Hinrichs, Edina

AIR TRAVEL

That fee for ‘unaccompanied minors’ is well-justified

I would like to respond to a March 6 letter about air travel (“Kids: Collateral of the bean-counters”). I am a retired airline employee. Since my retirement, I have seen the industry change from one ticket price to “a la carte” pricing. Each seat, whether coach or first-class, is viewed as a revenue unit, in addition to extra services costing more.

Unaccompanied minors require extra attention and responsibility. They are escorted on and off the flight by an employee. Also, if the flight needs to be diverted due to a mechanical or weather problem, the airline needs to arrange an employee to accompany the child for the duration of the layover.

In my day, traveling employees were seated next to unaccompanied children. I remember sitting next to a girl traveling alone; the flight attendant introduced me to the child and said I would assist her in calling an attendant if she needed anything.

As a mother, I think a $150 fee for a child’s safety net is a bargain.

Carole Pearson, Richfield

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I am curious if the March 6 letter writer who wrote “traveling with a child requires a whole new level of cost, endurance, unpredictability and danger” has actually spoken with an airline representative about being seated near her child. I recently flew American Airlines with my daughter. When I booked, there were only single seats available throughout the plane. I called the airline and asked if they were able to help me be seated with my daughter. I was told a child would never be seated apart from a parent — that a day before our flight they would assign us our seats and that they would be together. And we were. Now, I don’t know if all airlines have this policy, but it might be worth a call to find out.

Tinia Moulder, Minneapolis