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Jeers for Hoffman's inflamatory 'tweet'

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opinion Detroit Lakes, 56501
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

Jeers to State Sen. Gretchen Hoffman of Vergas for her needlessly incendiary way of doing business in the Legislature.

She is in trouble for a "tweet" message Wednesday night during a Health and Human Services debate in which she took a fellow legislator's comments completely out of context.

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Hoffman, a small business owner, is no fool. Perhaps she was bored or tired -- it was a late session -- but we don't understand what she hoped to gain by sitting back and sniping falsehoods through her Twitter account.

As a rookie lawmaker, she is new to politics, so her constituents may want to cut her a little slack.

She should apologize and move on. And most importantly, make sure it doesn't happen again.

If she is going to cover the Legislature by tweeting messages, she has a journalist's responsibility to get as close to the truth of the matter as she can.

Hoffman fell far short of that mark on Wednesday night.

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Tourism means big bucks for Minnesota, but a lot of that money from overseas has been left sitting on the table because of security concerns following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Tourism is the fifth largest industry in Minnesota, generating $11 billion in sales and providing nearly 11 percent of the state's total private sector employment.

Boosting travel to the United States helps businesses, since each traveler spends over $4,000 on average

It's time to take a hard look at some simple reforms that could help attract new visitors to the United States and help businesses, according to U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

As chairman of the Senate subcommittee that oversees the U.S. tourism industry, Klobuchar was a leader in helping sign into law the Travel Promotion Act last year which is estimated to add approximately $4 billion to the U.S. economy each year.

But more can be done.

The U.S. Travel Association's report suggested four key reforms to cut red tape while maintaining important national security safeguards.

• Align consular affairs with market demands. This would include the U.S. travel export promotion into the mission of the State Department's Bureau of Consular affairs and direct the State Department to use new technology to reduce visa processing times.

• Reduce visa interview wait times to 10 days or less. This would match what other advanced nations have done to attract new international travelers and businesses.

• Improve planning. This would put a stop to arbitrary limits on visa interview dates, and assess how to reduce applicant backlogs and increase transparency by making visa interview wait times online for each consulate.

• Preserve and expand the Visa Waiver Program. This would Direct the Department of Homeland Security and Department of State to develop a road map for countries like Brazil to be admitted into the Visa Waiver Program.

"Tourism is a powerful engine for job creation both in Minnesota and nationally," said Klobuchar. "By cutting red tape we can make traveling to the United States easier without compromising important national security safeguards."

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