As my legislative record shows, I have long worked to represent both the economic and environmental concerns of District Four. When it became clear that this year's omnibus environment and agriculture bill was not in our region's best interests, I knew that I could not support the bill with a clear conscience.
For reasons that are unclear to me, the authors of the bill chose to eliminate the senior discount for a fishing license. Instead of buying a $6.50 license, seniors will now have to pay $17, the full rate for a license. While the cost may not seem like a lot, it makes a big difference to folks who live on a small, fixed budget. I can understand that prices may go up from time to time, but it is thoughtless at best that the state should jeopardize our seniors' fishing rights just to raise a little extra money.
The second flaw in the omnibus environment bill was its lack of compromise language on perch limits. As many of you know, yellow perch levels in Lake Winnibigoshish and Leech Lake have fallen dramatically in the past several years, prompting DNR officials to cut perch limits drastically. However, the same cuts intended to save the perch threaten the vitality of the resorts on these lakes.
This year both the Senate and the House had bills that would have required the DNR to set the perch limits at an acceptably higher level. While the Senate bill (game and fish) was held back by its author, the House bill (environment and agriculture) made it to the conference committee level, so all its provisions could be considered for adoption. However, the House chose not to promote its own position on perch limits, and the perch compromise did not make it into the final version of the omnibus environment bill.
As you can see, I voted against the omnibus environment bill not to sabotage it -- the bill passed by a wide margin -- but to signal my disapproval. The bill was unfair to District Four in two important ways, and I could simply not condone this bill this year.
Sen. Anthony G. "Tony" Kinkel
As we reflect upon freedom this Independence Day, let's look closely at ourselves and society before blindly embracing a flag rendered more and more meaningless. We have an abundance of unquestioning patriots who believe a philosophy other than love of riches and power drives the politics of United State Inc. To some, American motives are always beyond reproach and we are more favored by God than lowly Third-World types. What we really need are those who love their country enough to speak truth to power and bring hope to the future.
The fundamental freedom is that of the mind. Some say our thoughts make us or that this is the etheric gossamer out of which we build our culture. An "average" citizen feels unqualified to serve in office. Half of us don't vote. Why is this? Why are our expectations so low? Has our noble experiment in self-government come to this? Are we defeated before we even start a gentler way?
We have aptly inscribed our currency with "In God we trust." Class-warfare and redistribution of wealth is obviously going on, only it's not some naughty pinko-anarchists who are doing the stealing. The earth isn't dying -- it's being systematically killed by insatiable corporations in their impersonal quest for profit. If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention. Global capitalism can't rest. The product is you.
The good citizen is supposedly the one who quietly pays his taxes and sends his children off to war as we are always beset with enemies who are jealous of our way of life. Such paranoia is implicit in the American Dream. Where will this lead? The belly of this global beast is not pretty. Wake up and grow some backbone. Be a living example. Ideals are not for the young alone. The issue is survival.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.