Mankato Free Press
The one potential benefit from the mistakes of the 2017 Legislature was the opportunity to learn from them. But so far in the 2018 Legislature, it appears not many lessons have been taken to heart. Let's review. The 2017 session ended with the GOP putting a sneaky provision in a spending bill that would have withheld funding from the Minnesota Department of Revenue if Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed the tax bill. Dayton signed the bill, but retaliated in kind by defunding the Legislature with a line-item veto.
It's an issue many people may not be paying attention to, but a piece of legislation that would bring reform to drug sentencing guidelines has been making its way through Congress. And amazingly, it has received bipartisan support at a time when Republicans and Democrats have been unable to agree on anything. But the needed legislation is getting gummed up by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who is publicly opposing it, calling the bill a "grave error" that he said would prevent the courts from being able to hand out severe enough punishment to enough people.
When these pages decried the gun violence that killed 58 concertgoers and injured 500 more at the hands of a madman with a "machine gun" in Las Vegas, we said more such tragedies were likely on the way. We only needed to wait about four months. We watched in horror again as panicked students ran from their high school in Parkland, Florida, as a former student pulled the fire alarm and gunned them down as they exited their classrooms.
The current flu vaccine leaves too much to chance—the country needs to press for a universal vaccine. Getting the flu vaccine is important and should still be done with months still left in what is one of the worst flu epidemics in years. Minnesota alone has had more than 3,800 influenza-related hospitalizations. For the entire previous flu season, the total was 3,700. Nationally, swine flu, which swept the globe in 2009, sickened nearly 61 million and killed 12,469, according to the CDC. Deaths from the current outbreak will likely far outpace that epidemic.
There was something so ugly about the behavior of some Philadelphia fans at the NFC championship game in that city recently, that it's hard for even character-filled, well-educated Vikings fans to not respond in kind and in hate. But we should all remember who we are as fans. We're not about hate. We're not about winning at all costs. We're not poor sports. We're not, well, psychotic about our teams. Minnesotans see sports as part of life, not life as part of sports.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions' decision to allow federal prosecution of marijuana laws in states that have legalized it will create confusion in law enforcement and represents an unnecessary challenge to states' rights. Sessions rescinded an Obama administration directive for federal prosecutors to not prosecute marijuana sales in states that have legalized its use. They were still authorized to prosecute cases where the drug was shipped across state lines to be sold in a state where it was illegal.
It seems counterintuitive that life expectancy would decline. New medical knowledge, technology and pharmaceuticals have steadily increased life expectancy at birth in the modern era. In 1960 life expectancy was less the 70 years and it grew steadily to 79 years in 2014. But that progress came to a halt the last couple of years as life expectancy declined. The decline in 2016 came for a staggering 21 percent increase in the death rate from drug overdoses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Just as Minnesota's courts cleared their plate of one messy constitutional dilemma, Minnesota's political leaders seem hungry for creating another such mess. An assertion by GOP Senate President Michelle Fischbach that she can be both a senator and the lieutenant governor via some legal gymnastics created pushback from Democrats and Gov. Mark Dayton who, by law, is obligated to appoint the president of the Senate to lieutenant governor upon the resignation of current Lt. Gov. Tina Smith.
A blockbuster term of the newly configured U.S. Supreme Court kicks off this week and several big cases are on the docket. The justices spent their last term with just eight members and often split 4-4 on decisions. Now Justice Neil Gorsuch has been seated, creating a 5-4 conservative majority. The cases the court has agreed to hear include a broad range of topics that will affect many Americans for decades to come.
As flower gardens strut their stuff this summer with yards and parks awash in a rainbow of color, gardeners should take the opportunity to steal planting ideas. Beyond being jealous...