Letter: ‘Our’ legislators agenda is beyond shameful

[Published March 15,2017 in the Red Wing Republican Eagle]

To the editor:

I’m a lifelong Democrat, but have known times and places where many of the more capable and honorable elected officials were Republicans. Cooperation existed and progress was made. Today’s Republicans often seem more like a hate group than a responsible political party. Consider the agenda of the present Minnesota House and Senate leadership: They are attacking freedom of expression with bills designed to harass demonstrators. They seek to shut down environmental protections and take from the poor and give to the wealthy. Evil-minded, punitive and vindictive bills by the dozens … and all too often these are supported by DFL fellow-travellers.

Consider “our” Sen. Mike Goggin. Goggin authored a bill to let his employer, Xcel Energy, build a fossil-fuel power plant without going through the usual regulatory proceedings. The likely consequences are increased electric bills and accelerated global warming. Shamefully, Gov. Dayton signed the House version of this bill on Feb. 28, so the deal seems done.  Are people OK with Sen. Goggin betraying his constituents on behalf of his employer?  (It should be noted that Sen. Goggin’s name was removed from the Senate bill on Feb 16th, so perhaps he got a message. )

Now Goggin seeks to deny overtime pay to itinerant farm workers, traditionally among the poorest and most exploited workers. Shameful beyond words.

“Our” Rep. Barb Haley says in her recent email newsletter than she wants to deny local governments the ability to set minimum wages and other working conditions. [This  was in original: Given that Minnesota has low unemployment, but many people can’t support themselves or their families on their low pay, it seems logical to increase minimum wages.]  Since economic conditions vary across the state, local options seem logical and consistent with traditional Republican rhetoric. What does she have against democracy in Minneapolis and St. Paul, where minimum wage increases have been most seriously pursued? Haley’s email says:

“This practice of patchwork city ordinances would damper job growth, create complicated and costly administrative burdens, discourage businesses contemplating expanding into Minnesota, and possibly even drive businesses out of Minnesota. In addition, a higher minimum wage standard could force small businesses and nonprofit organizations in our communities to lay-off workers or reduce hiring new employees. In order to protect jobs and promote an environment of growth in our region, I voted in favor of the Uniform Labor Standards Act.”

Where, is the evidence that any of this is true? What makes it appropriate for Haley to interfere in the affairs of St. Paul and Minneapolis? Again, shameful.

Rather than represent us, Goggin and Haley are working against the interests of everybody.

Alan Muller

Red Wing

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