Readers Write: Long-Term Care Funding, LGBTQ Legislation, Bail and Violent Crime, Governor’s Fishing Opener

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Review Editor’s Note: Star Tribune Opinion publishes letters readers online and in print every day. To contribute, click here.

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Remember that the devil is in the details. The “$1 billion plan to address care staffing issues” in long-term care residences (front page, April 10) will only be effective if at least 90% of it goes directly nurses, orderlies and other healthcare personnel. When they are fairly compensated, staff shortages will ease, the quality of care will improve, and owners will make a good profit.

We applaud lawmakers who are stepping in to help long-term care workers, but please ensure the legislation makes it clear that direct care staff, not executives and owners, get 90% of the increased funding. Vague language should be eliminated. Staff shortages have been a decades-long problem perpetrated by this industry as a way to increase profits.

Our mothers, fathers, spouses and other loved ones deserve to be cared for by staff who are fairly compensated, trained and supported.

Kristine Sundberg, Excelsior

The author is executive director of Elder Voice Family Advocates.

LGBTQ LEGISLATION

The pathological Republican obsession with all things LGBTQ is truly mind-boggling. The April 10 article “GOP pushes anti-LGBTQ bills at record pace” states that “[t]his year is heating up to be another banner year for anti-LBGTQ legislation…. Republican lawmakers have proposed at least 325 bills so far, including about 130 specifically targeting transgender rights. Republicans even raised the issue during Supreme Court Justice Designate Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation hearing when a senator asked Jackson to define “woman.” a thinly veiled reference to gender identity and trans politics among Republicans.

Although this is alarming, I take comfort that we have already taken this path, with equality winning in the end. Remember the Republican/Conservative/Evangelical panic over same-sex marriage? Marriage is the foundation of a healthy society and will be forever damaged if we radically redefine it! The children will be wronged to have two dads! And my favorite: Civilization as we know it will cease to exist if Adam and Steve are allowed to marry! Republicans tried every known legal maneuver to stop same-sex marriage, but ultimately failed.

Well, it’s been 19 years since Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage. Civilization still exists, the children are fine, and any failure of marriage as an institution can still be blamed on opposite-sex couples. And a 2021 Gallup poll found a record 70% of Americans support same-sex marriage.

Republicans lost the same-sex marriage culture war, but that didn’t stop them from trying again. The model today is almost identical. Using a social issue to energize the conservative base at the expense of a vulnerable minority. Claiming all kinds of social harm will happen to us if we allow the LGBTQ community to have equal rights. Assert yourself on a moral level by “saving the children”. Haven’t Republicans learned anything from their disastrous fight against same-sex marriage? This battle will also eventually be lost and equal rights will prevail.

Steve Millikan, Minneapolis

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The article describes the GOP’s proposed sex and gender laws as “anti-LGBTQ.” The article says that Florida “bans sexual orientation and gender identity instructions…”. He fails to mention that the bill only prevents teaching about sex and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade. This is quite an important distinction. There is a big difference between forbidding something and not teaching the subject to children under 9 years old. A lot of people, including me, don’t think it’s necessary to teach kids this young about gender identity.

Another “anti-LGBTQ” bill discussed in the article requires transgender athletes to participate in sports based on their sex assigned at birth. This would prevent men who identify as women from participating in women’s sports. The article chooses to call this bill “anti-LGBTQ”. This is the opinion of the author, and the opinion of many progressives; however, conservatives and many female athletes believe that preventing biological men from competing against women is a matter of fairness. Research has shown that men have significant advantages in sports and these advantages cannot be taken away simply by taking a drug to reduce the amount of testosterone in the blood.

These bills would not be introduced if they did not enjoy significant public support. As with many topics, progressives and conservatives have different views. News articles should provide information about bills and leave it to editorials and commentary to determine whether bills are anti-LGBTQ.

James Brandt, New Brighton

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Here are two sentences from last Sunday’s Star Tribune: “In some cases, teachers are warned to avoid controversial topics to avoid getting in trouble…” and “[the teacher] is now being investigated for causing ‘serious consequences’ under last month’s censorship law…”.

One sentence concerns Russian law and the Russian-Ukrainian war. The other refers to the state’s LGBTQ legislation. Which is which? A free and democratic society must be careful not to fall into authoritarian censorship.

John Jackson, Bloomington

Bail and Violent Crimes

Mark Osler is a prominent law professor, but he got it wrong in his April 10 comment titled “Straight talk on bail and violent crime.” As a resident of downtown Minneapolis since 2001, I’m more concerned about the latter.

Nowhere in Osler’s analysis is there a reference to the Minnesota Freedom Fund. The MFF distorted bail reform by bailing out at least 10 people arrested for violent crimes, who then returned to the streets or to their homes to commit more violent crimes. The “Minnesota” in the MFF’s name belies the fact that it is nationally funded.

As we taxpayers and voters rebuild Minneapolis and Minnesota from the devastation of COVID and the destruction following the murder of George Floyd, we need realistic answers from our law schools and legislature to these questions:

What distinguishes a “low level criminal case” from one where there is a firearm, a violent act occurs or there is a threat of violence? How can this distinction be uniformly understood and applied by the judiciary and public defenders?

What is appropriate oversight by the State of Minnesota of a third party organization, no matter how well intentioned, that enters the criminal justice system with an agenda that may not be in the best interest of the citizens of the Minnesota?

I don’t want to raise bail for misdemeanors. I want Minnesotans to fix Minnesota’s bail issues and violent crime issues. Ignoring the MFF in an analysis of Minnesota bail policy does neither.

William A. Levin, Minneapolis

GOVERNOR’S FISHING OPENING

It angers me that everything (now including the Governor’s fishing opening) is included this, included that (“Governor hits a snag on fishing opening,” editorial, April 10). Don’t keep talking about this. “Take a mom fishing” is good. Let the families do with the idea what they want. Don’t try to make everything political by calling it inclusive or not. It’s so irritating, and God forbid, to hurt anyone’s feelings or offend anyone these days. Just let life unfold and let those who choose to participate do so without it being political.

Zane Birky, Eden Prairie

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