THUMBS UP: It's hard to imagine the weight on Sen. Gary Kubly's shoulders. He's gone from the ruling party in the Minnesota Legislature to the minority and, as a politician in this state, he's facing the stress of trying to come up with solutions to the state's massive budget deficit - a stressor that all legislators lug around with them every day. But we also have to remember, these politicians are human and have their own personal battles to deal with. Kubly's is his health. The six-term legislator is battling ALS, a downright scary and often debilitating disease that has no cure. Through it all, Kubly has held on to his sense of humor, cracking jokes about the cane he uses, for example. With a raspy voice, a symptom of ALS, the longtime senator speaks with optimism about his battle and has made it his goal to see what could be his final term through. For that, and for all he's done for southwestern Minnesota in the last decade-plus, we commend him.
Gun permit system repeal
THUMBS DOWN: Majority Republicans have raised controversy in St. Paul by proposing to repeal the state's system of gun background checks and permits (a House public safety panel voted 10-7 Wednesday to eliminate the requirement that gun buyers get a state permit). Gov. Mark Dayton opposes the move to repeal. Supporters argue the current system duplicates federal databases and is unnecessary, and it appears the repeal is their way of trimming the duplicity fat among many agencies in the state - something political candidates from both sides of the aisle campaigned on this past summer - given the fact that a background check is already required at the federal level. It appears to be a well-intentioned move, but at what cost? Would a repeal mean better gun access for criminals? If so, it's not worth it. Only a dozen states have their own permit laws, but our Legislators should at least look into alternative ways to save money before taking our own permit law off the books. There has to be other ways to save some bucks that don't potentially lead to easier access to guns.
Electronic ID card readers
THUMBS DOWN: It's odd that in this new era of cost-cutting GOP legislators would want the state to spend money on electronic ID card readers to make voting more efficient. No one knows what the final price tag would be on this equipment, but spending money on something like ID card readers seems like a misplaced idea. The state's voting system might not be perfect, but it's good enough. The object here, we've been told, is to save money, not spend it on an issue that's hardly a pressing one.
City sales taxes
SIDEWAYS?THUMBS: There's a decent chance citizens of Marshall will be voting on two possible taxes in the near future. Supporters of a proposed regional amateur sports center are seeking legislative approval to put a .5 percent city general sales tax to a public vote this fall. Republican Sen. Gary Dahms of Redwood Falls has already committed to writing the bill that would put the sales tax on the ballot. If it passes, referenda on both the general sales tax and a 1.5 percent "hospitality tax" on sales of prepared food, beverages, and lodging will be held. The money would go toward construction and operating costs of an estimated $12.9 million amateur sports center and additions to the MERIT Center in Marshall. Both are worthy projects, and we're all for the city working to live up to its regional amateur sports center designation, but getting the general public and local business owners to approve an overall 2 percent tax hike in these economic times could be a tough sell.