Readers’ Views

Making a difference

To the Editor:

One hundred Arc bowlers and supporters enjoyed the awarding of trophies and a delicious potluck meal at Grace Lutheran Church two weeks ago. Arc has enjoyed Friday night bowling for over 30 years.

With the changes in employment opportunities, we find more of our bowlers with disabilities short on spendable cash. That’s what makes two recent events even more special to people with disabilities. For 27 years, the Fairmont area Knights of Columbus has held a silent live auction in the spring. This year, nearly $5,000 has been given to the Arc. The Knights host the largest Arc fundraiser in Martin County year after year. We’re so grateful.

A big surprise this year came when representatives from Valero visited our Arc Bowlers at Bowlmor Lanes and presented us with a $5,000 check. At times it seems as if we are going backward with programs for people with disabilities, but that downside turns into a real plus when our community continues to support us so well.

Thank you Martin County communities and volunteers. What a difference you make.

Lee Ann Erickson

Fairmont

This isn’t controversial

To the Editor:

Recently, Bryan Gregor penned a letter to the editor regarding Legacy funding legislation that was stronger on rhetoric than it was reality.

Gregor clearly has his opinions on what he thinks Legacy funding should do, telling us “the intent was to ensure that our children and grandchildren have access to abundant opportunities to hunt, fish and enjoy the outdoors just as we have.”

That is partially correct.

Like it or not, what Minnesotans truly voted on when they supported increasing their taxes as part of the Legacy Amendment, along with outdoors heritage, was clean water, parks and trails, and arts and cultural heritage.

In 2008, all of the interested parties within these four categories joined forces in order to convince voters to support their preferred programs. Their plan worked. Because of this, our state is now constitutionally obligated to spend money on things like public broadcasting, individual artists, zoos and bike trails, along with maintaining public lands. This isn’t a legislative mission, this is occurring because a majority of Minnesota voters wanted it to be this way.

So when Gregor says, “The people of Minnesota did not vote to increase our own taxes just so that the state could freeze us in time and then divert the rest of the money to unrelated projects,” they actually did.

In regard to the Outdoor Heritage Fund, that money “may be spent only to restore, protect and enhance wetlands, prairies, forest and habitat for fish, game and wildlife.” Despite what Gregor believes, it does not say “must purchase state land.”

A few things to keep in mind if you are in the “Minnesota should buy more state land” crowd: The state owns 8.5 million acres of land. The federal government owns another 3.4 million acres. That means roughly one-fourth of the land within our borders already sits in the hands of government. In the United States, Minnesota ranks fourth in terms of state land ownership, and since 2009, Minnesota has purchased an average of 10,000 acres per year with Legacy money.

Also worth noting since Gregor didn’t, this year’s bill still allows the state to acquire significant land. While we made some changes to the Lessard-Sams recommendations in the bill, it still has the opportunity to purchase nearly 10,000 acres of land with roughly $30 million.

Sportsmen and women are always going to want more land on which to hunt, which I understand. But to suggest the Legislature is assaulting future generations with this Legacy bill — when one-fourth of our state has already been permanently set aside by government and the opportunity exists to purchase even more land — is ludicrous.

And despite the fact that Gregor is making this issue controversial, your readers should know that it was approved in the Minnesota House in the most non-controversial way possible — a bipartisan and unanimous 131-0 vote.

State Rep. Bob Gunther,

R-Fairmont

chairman, Minnesota House

Legacy Funding

Finance Committee

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