Shaw: A to-do list for Minnesota
Columnist Jim Shaw shares what he believes the Minnesota Legislature should accomplish while it is in session.
With the Minnesota Legislative session underway, there are lots of good things that could come out of it. Now that both chambers are controlled by Democrats and Democratic Gov. Tim Walz was re-elected, there’s all sorts of possibilities that didn’t exist before. So, here’s what the Legislature should do.
Give surplus money back to the taxpayers. The state has a whopping surplus of $17.6 billion. Minnesota taxpayers deserve much of that money. A single filer should receive $1,000. A married couple filing jointly should receive $2,000.
Stop taxing social security benefits. Minnesota is just one of 12 states that does so. That money is badly needed for people who retire or who have disabilities. Minnesota doesn’t need that extra tax money as much as the recipients need it in their bank accounts. The state can afford the $500 million annual loss in revenue. More importantly, it’s the right thing to do.
Protect women’s reproductive rights. Abortion rights are only legal in Minnesota because of a ruling by the State Supreme Court. In the future, different members of the Minnesota Supreme Court could reverse that ruling. That’s the lesson from the federal government, where we used to think the Roe v. Wade ruling would last forever, until the current Supreme Court threw it out. Thus, legislation to protect women’s rights is a necessity.
Death with dignity. This is legal in about 10 states. Let people who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness and judged to be mentally competent, take some medication to end their lives when they feel the time is right. What’s the point of forcing people who are miserably sick and in pain to continue to suffer? What’s the point of forcing their loved ones to witness this? We put our dogs and cats “to sleep” when they are terminally ill. Why are we more humane with our pets than we are with our fellow humans?
Legalize recreational marijuana. It’s much safer than alcohol. People are going to smoke it anyway, so the state should tax and regulate it. Legalized recreational marijuana works in many other states. Do we really want to arrest and prosecute people for simply smoking a joint in their own homes?
Ban gay conversion therapy for minors. This discredited “therapy” is an attempt to turn gay people into straight people. It doesn’t work. The appalling techniques include electric shocks, inducing vomiting, hypnosis and psychoanalytic efforts to reduce same-sex attraction.
A red flag law. This is a common sense approach to deal with our epidemic of shooting deaths.
Paid family leave. Having a medical emergency or needing maternity leave shouldn’t have to be a financial crisis for working families.
More money for education and a bonding bill. Many building projects need to be funded in the state, including repairs at Minnesota State University Moorhead and a new fire station in Dilworth.
I would also love to see the North Dakota Legislature pass most of these items, but realistically, there’s no chance.
Shaw is a former WDAY TV reporter and former KVRR TV news director.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.