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For the past several years there has been end-of-session lamenting about gridlock in Minnesota government. The reality is that government was working as it should: Laws are supposed to be hard to make! Now with one-party control, we see clearly what can happen — runaway spending with a $17 billion budget surplus, campaign promises of moderation broken, and setting the state up for future budget disaster.

As a middle-of-the-road voter, with a social left lean and fiscal right lean, I feel myself being pushed hard right just to bring back some balance and common sense. I beg the Minnesota GOP to come up with some moderate candidates and will pledge to donate my $260 rebate.

James Heimer, Cottage Grove


As the legislative session winds down, I have read, with interest, how the Republican Party leaders are complaining about the passage of most bills and their lack of voice on them. Obviously, this is happening because the DFL controls both branches of the state Legislature and the governorship. I am amused how Republicans are feeling wronged when they had ample opportunity to compromise last spring when they had control of the Senate. They elected to not deal with the financial windfall because they thought they would win both houses and the governorship last November. They seemed tone-deaf about the feelings of the majority in our state on several issues and their lack of solutions to any of our problems in this state. They had the opportunity to work with "the other side" but chose not to. Now they are whining!

I am not always in agreement with the DFL bills, but I applaud a party that wants to do something for the citizens of the state. It certainly beats proposing no solutions to any item besides culture wars and a lack of compromise. Maybe they need to examine how they want to legislate in the future.

Leland Kulland, Burnsville


While DFLers are patting themselves on the back, I am not one of them, even though I side with them.

What really soured me was the defense of the ridiculous increase in the gas tax. The reasoning, to have a fund in place to repair roads. I find this hard to believe considering what we pay for to get our tabs renewed every year. If that money doesn't go toward road repair, just where does it go? No one has been able to tell me. The GOP is right, no Minnesotan needs another tax or raise in taxes, period. What wasn't discussed was just how much of that $17 billion will be left once this session comes to an end. Have they spent it all? And if they did, on who or what?

While I applaud the gun-control measures, there is one glaring measure that is missing, and that is raising the age from 18 to 21 to buy an assault-type rifle. First of all, no matter how many responsible gun owners cry foul, there is absolutely no reason on God's green earth why anyone needs one. Gun owners fall back to that idiotic way of thinking that if there is a ban on them, then what next? Ridiculous. I fail to see why the GOP can stick to this premise when so many mass shootings riddle this country.

As far as the education bill goes, I cannot help but wonder how much deeper that black hole can get. Will another $30 million or $40 million be gobbled up in the next session? Test scores are down in several categories even though so much money has been set aside for education. From some of the retired teachers I've met, the problem is the testing. Teachers concentrate on what tests involve rather than focusing on furthering a child's education. If that is true, it's a crime that no money can fix. Perhaps the Legislature should address this issue rather than just tossing money at it.

Dan Ondich, Lakeville


Undermining democracy by ... including more voices?

I was troubled by the accusatory tone of Steven Schier's opinion piece ("How DFLers kept legislating until Minnesota turned blue," Opinion Exchange, May 22). Reading it one would think the DFL undermined democracy this legislative session. His evidence: the DFL made voting easier for everyone, including young people, and protected and expanded voting rights to include felons who completed their prison terms.

Schier is also troubled that the DFL raised the bar for third-party candidates such as those in the marijuana parties. He doesn't acknowledge that, unlike the Republican Party in Minnesota, the DFL is a broad tent party that responded to the principal demand of the marijuana parties. He also didn't mention that the Republican Party ran candidates with third-party status with specific intent to take votes from DFL candidates in swing districts. Seems to me the DFL protected and strengthened democracy in Minnesota this legislative session.

Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, Minneapolis


Schier seems to have confused the essential process of democratic elections with his assumptions and biases. While it is true that the laws have been changed to enable voting by marginalized groups, the assumptions about these newly enabled voters are questionable. Increasing voter participation is a nonpartisan issue. If elected leaders behave in accordance with voters' desires, they tend to get re-elected. Suppressing voter turnout is an old and effective tactic to enable minority rule. We can see this used today in states that are governed by arguably unpopular minorities. Recent changes to Minnesota voting laws increase voter participation, which holds elected leaders to account. The will of the voters is the superpower that animates government and drives change through nonviolent means. The alternative, as has been amply demonstrated, is simply unacceptable.

George Hutchinson, Minneapolis


A call to come together

What does your community look like? Diverse? Homogeneous? Or are you unable to answer the question?

According to Paula Woessner, an expert from the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, it is estimated that in 2002, the Muslim population in the Twin Cities stood at around 75,000, which has only increased since then. While 75,000 may appear to be a small percentage, constituting around 3% of the Twin Cities population, it is crucial to recognize that this community's presence and contributions are far from insignificant.

With this growing population of Muslims comes a yearning for change, seen within the ordinance allowing the call to prayer at any time, but this change was met with resistance and skepticism. While I respect people's opinions, reflecting on the reasons behind the resistance is essential. Resistance or discomfort toward the adhan often stems from a lack of exposure, misunderstanding or fear of the unfamiliar. Feeling uneasy when confronted with something new or different is a natural human response. However, in these moments of discomfort, we have an opportunity to broaden our horizons, challenge our preconceptions, and foster a more inclusive and accepting community.

When we witness our neighbors' cultural and religious practices, it fosters a sense of belonging and understanding that transcends differences. The adhan, broadcast throughout our city, can serve as a bridge to connect people of all backgrounds and beliefs and nurture the bonds that make our community as resilient as possible.

Maya Omar, Maple Grove