Herald and Journal, March 22, 1999

Citizens bend legislators' ears

By Andrea Vargo

State Representative Tony Kielkucki, R- Lester Prairie, and State Senator Steve Dille, R- Dassel, listened to comments and concerns from constituents March 13 at the Howard Lake Community Center.

The topics were as varied as the 20 people attending the town meeting.

Tobacco money

What is all the money the state received from the tobacco settlement going to be used for?

Dille and Kielkucki both had strong feelings that education to keep young people from smoking is not working, even though large amounts of money are spent on that education now. Studies show that more teens than ever are smoking.

Some legislators want to put part of the money into cessation education and part into endowments, and endowments would cut taxes for generations to come, said Dille.

Kielkucki said he has a problem with endowments.

"It isn't our (legislators') decision how to invest the citizens' money, and I'm not sure that is what government should do," he said.

Education

Kielkucki said society has changed, and we are asking our schools to be parents.

"The education community suffers, because we have said the schools have to do that," he said.

Almost all the attending citizens felt the Profiles of Learning should be scrapped.

Kielkucki said the home makes education work, and quality teachers seem to always do well. He felt the student-teacher ratio wasn't as important as parental involvement and good teachers.

He told the gathering that the initial idea for the profiles was good, but what came out of the rules committees was not good.

Highway 12

"Whatever you do on Highway 12, it won't be adequate. The highway was built to speed up traffic; now stoplights are needed for safety," said one man.

"Once the improvements are made, we will never be able to get on from (Wright County Road) 6," he said.

The idea was presented that Howard Lake needs a stop light to provide a break in the traffic.

Dille didn't address the comment and went on to talk about controlling urban sprawl.

He said that government is trying to figure out ways to keep people in the cities and provide services.

Tax rebate

James Wackler of Howard Lake asked Dille when the tax rebate was coming, and if the public was going to get any interest. The government charges accrued interest on what taxpayers owe, Wackler said

Dille replied, "Interest makes the whole thing grow, and you probably get more back as a result."

Kielkucki told the assembly, "You are going to get a rebate of say $800 to $1,000 for a family of four, and you are eligible for a property tax rebate on your tax form, already.

"We, as Republicans, want a permanent income tax cut," he said.

Farmers

The farmers present agreed the tax rebate doesn't do enough for the farmer, and other things need to be done. There were no suggestions, except a comment made on the Green Acres program.

The Green Acres program is supposed to help cut property taxes for farmers, but many counties don't participate in the program, said Burton Horsch of Howard Lake.

· Abortion: Do the people of Minnesota pay for free abortions for people who can't afford it, asked one woman.

"I feel it is an elective, not a necessity," she said.

Kielkucki said, "I introduced a bill to change that, but I don't think it will get through the process."

License fees

Another concern was for the change in vehicle license fees. The statement was made that it will hurt the majority of people who drive cheaper cars, if it is put at a flat $75.

Dille said an idea has been talked about that would dedicate part or all of the sales taxes on vehicles to road construction and maintenance.

No one seemed to like the idea that sales tax is collected, time and again, on the same car, every time it is sold.

Court system

Dick Borrell of Waverly said he felt a review panel should be appointed to decide if a lawsuit is frivolous or of value The court system is out of balance, complained others.

Kielkucki said voters need to take a hard look at the basic philosophical ideals of their elected officials.

"They (elected officials) appoint judges who make a big difference in how the law is interpreted for the public," he said.


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