Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Now in session

The Minnesota Legislature opened its session today, with a situation mirroring the national one: both chambers controlled by Democrats (or the DFL, as they're known here) and the governor's seat occupied by a Republican.

One major difference, though, is in that Republican: Tim Pawlenty has already acknowledged the need to change course on several things, and he was always more clueful and willing to compromise than Bush is. So there's actually some hope that this legislature will be able to get some good things done.

Here are some of the things I've asked my elected representatives to do. A lot of the big issues (like civil liberties, health care, education or Iraq) are missing, and that's deliberate: I consider these items that need addressing, but are at risk of being lost in the shuffle.

To my local representatives:

1. Fund transit projects like the Central Corridor and Northstar, and start looking at ways to expand it into the western suburbs.

2. Legalize instant-runoff voting, both as an option for local elections and as a requirement for statewide contests.

3. Allow grocery stores to sell wine. It's a small thing, but I strongly dislike it when an industry (liquor stores, in this case) uses the law to insulate itself from competition.

4. Stop balancing the state budget on the backs of property taxpayers.

Nationally, I've asked my representatives to:

1. Sign on to tighter ethics rules and more transparent government.

2. Adopt "pay as you go" rules and aggressively reduce the deficit.

3. Reform Social Security by eliminating the earnings cap (thus replenishing the "trust fund" by recouping money from the taxpayers who most benefited from raiding it) and indexing benefit increases to inflation.

The list is hardly exhaustive. Feel free to list your political priorities in the comments.

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