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Excerpts from recent Minnesota editorials

The Free Press of Mankato, Feb. 28

Business groups are sounding the alarm over the need for reasoned immigration reform to provide the future success for outstate Minnesota.

There may be no more divisive issue at the moment than immigration.

Much of the rhetoric of the campaign leading up to the last election suggested that immigrants were a threat to the nation’s security and a major drain on the economy, taking away jobs from others.

The security risk was always overblown and the economic argument flat out wrong.

Businesses and community leaders across the state know very well that immigrants are taking jobs that would otherwise go unfilled and providing the economic growth that will keep communities and businesses growing and successful.

From time to time, throughout history, immigrants have been targeted as a threat to safety and economic growth by politicians who believe they can capitalize on raw emotions and fear. Many of the immigrants who settled in southern Minnesota in the late 1800s faced persecution.

Now, with a renewed focus on deportation and the construction of a wall on the border with Mexico, business leaders are trying to provide a level of reason amid the din of anger.

The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and many other groups, including those in agriculture, are sending the message that immigrants must be welcomed if the state’s economy is to grow and rural towns are to survive. They note that the state will need immigrants to arrive at a higher rate than now in order to keep up with jobs opened by baby boomers’ retirements, not to mention any new job openings.

No one can accuse this group’s members of being politically motivated in their criticism of the current state of affairs over immigrants. No one has ever accused the chamber or other business groups involved of being radical liberals.

The chamber said that the focus on immigration enforcement and a wall is diverting attention from the real need of overhauling the immigration system. They note that the outdated static immigration quota numbers should be replaced by a dynamic system that allows different numbers of immigrants to enter the country based on current economic needs.

And they know reform needs to address the 11 million undocumented people already in the country, providing them some route to citizenship, with whatever requirements Congress and the president believe necessary.

They intentionally list border security as their last goal, believing that if good immigration reform is passed, border security would mostly take care of itself.

Finding ways for more immigrants to legally enter, work and strive toward citizenship doesn’t mean security or background checks need to be weakened.

At a time of overheated rhetoric, the message being delivered by Minnesota’s business community is a breath of fresh air.

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The Journal of New Ulm, Feb. 27

Getting elected easy, doing the job is hard

We have mentioned before the many similarities between the election of Donald J. Trump as president and Jesse Ventura as governor of Minnesota.

Both cases are lessons, we feel, in the idea that getting elected may be the easy part. The tough part is doing the job.

Both candidates were outspoken, not politically correct in the slightest, men who said what other people wanted to say if they thought they could get away with it. They appealed to a different demographic than the typical candidate, mobilizing people who may not have voted before and drawing other voters who were tired of the same old stuff from both parties.

So they won their elections, with less than a plurality of the popular vote. Ventura won a three-way race with 37 percent of the vote. Trump got his 306 electoral votes but trailed in the popular vote.

Once they got in office, the similarity seems to end. Ventura, well aware that he was heading into strange and unusual territory, surrounded himself with competent able advisors and key staff, and he listened to them, at least for the first couple of years.

With Trump, we sense he has the attitude he knows what he’s doing and he’s going to do it his way. He is flouting tradition, flouting the rules, chafing at the constitutional limits placed upon him and expecting everyone else to get used to him.

This may not be such a bad thing. Washington, after all, badly needs a shaking up. But we hope a new normalcy will develop soon.

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St. Paul Pioneer Press, March 1

This is a good idea. Remember it when the Legislature changes hands, too

Sure, a new open-data, open-meeting bill makes a political point. But it’s a good one.

Minnesotans deserve a reminder that the Legislature exempted itself from provisions of the state’s Data Practices Act and Open Meeting Law.

The Legislature “makes every local government and the executive branch follow these rules,” the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Paul Thissen, a Democrat from Minneapolis, told us, “but the Legislature exempts itself. That seems a little bit hypocritical.” The House and Senate set their own rules with respect to open meetings, release of data and other transparency matters.

At a time trust in government is strained, the former House speaker said, “it seems to me the answer to that is more sunlight and more transparency and more accountability.”

More of that, Thissen said, “will start to rebuild the institutional trust that we need if we’re going to actually accomplish anything meaningful.”

With such change, he explains, lawmakers’ schedules would become public information “so constituents can know who their legislators are meeting with for official business.” The measure would extend to emails, including those between legislators and between legislators and lobbyists and other outside groups. The exception: constituent correspondence.

We’ve observed that such reform initiatives generally come from the side with the most to gain.

“This kind of legislation has been introduced by the party not in power for whatever political gain it might produce and then when that party gets in power, you never hear anything again – and that’s a bipartisan comment,” said Don Gemberling, a longtime state leader on freedom-of-information and privacy matters.

Good to get it on the record, then.

Thissen said he’s “looking at this as a biennium project” that could stretch over the two years of the session. “It’s a big culture change that’s going to cause a lot of legislators to really think hard about whether they want to open themselves up to what I think is appropriate transparency.”

The will for reform wasn’t apparent when the House met earlier this month to decide on its rules for the biennium.

Among provisions considered was a move to require representatives to disclose the sponsors of the junket trips they take, the Pioneer Press’ Rachel E. Stassen-Berger reported.

The proposal, defeated on a 56-68 vote, would not have banned the trips but would have required House members and House employees to report the sponsors of the trips they take and that those reports be posted on the House website.

Thissen, who last session introduced a package of transparency changes to rules and procedures, considers the current bill “the next incremental step” on the path toward increased transparency.

Changes, Thissen told us, will continue to have bipartisan support – and opposition.

His plan: “Keep pushing it forward and getting people comfortable” with reform. “I think it’s what Minnesotans expect of us. We need to convince the Legislature of that.”

At a time of distrust of government, he asks, “You would think that what they would want is more openness and more transparency, right?”

Right.

Copyright © 2017 The Washington Times, LLC.

Source: www.washingtontimes.com stories: Politics

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