Act now on climate change

Will our politicians in Washington ever work in a cooperative manner to solve our problems today? What can unify Republicans and Democrats to work on issues to improve the lives of all Americans and the entire planet? Contrary to what you hear and see in the media, there is encouraging news.

There are currently 50 members of Congress (25 Democrats and 25 Republicans) working together in a bipartisan caucus to find a solution to the issues of climate change. The Climate Solutions Caucus in the House of Representatives is working "to educate members on economically-viable options to reduce climate risk and protect our nation's economy, security, infrastructure, agriculture, water supply and public safety," according to the petition filed with the Committee on House Administration. This is a major step forward to see Republicans and Democrats working together to move our country forward. I would like to encourage our representative, Jason Lewis, to please join this caucus.

With the increasing rise in sea levels in coastal areas, record breaking temperatures, extreme weather, unprecedented carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere, air pollution that causes 200,000 deaths a year, and the devastating effects on our global food source and raw material supply, we have to act now.

I am a Hastings resident and a member of the St Croix Valley, MN chapter of the Citizens' Climate Lobby that endorses a market-based solution - carbon fee and dividend - that enjoys support across the political spectrum including companies such as ExxonMobil, Shell and BP.

Eric Jackson





Is city fairly applying ordinances?

What is this town coming to? At age 60 my husband lost his job after 32 years of service because the company closed. He was forced to take early retirement. What does one do when they don't have a job? Usually they take up a hobby. He was fixing lawnmowers, snowblowers, boat motors, etc. People would bring their lawnmowers by for minor repair. Sometimes people would drop one off for him to work on and he was told to keep it. Often he would fix mowers for free. The mowers that were given to him he would get running and often he would give them away or he would set a couple out in the yard for sale. He would sell these for little or nothing and those who couldn't afford a new mower were very appreciative.

After two years his hobby recently came to a sudden halt. An individual who has targeted my husband many times over the past years decided to call the city and complain. Because my husband worked on the mowers in the driveway, the city told him it was an eyesore. Not only did they tell him to clean things up, but they also told him he was no longer allowed to set anything by the curb for sale, or be fined. If he wants to sell a lawnmower every now and then he needs to get a business license.

Now as a wife who likes things neat and orderly, I can understand the city requesting that he cleans things up (he kind of let things get a little messy), but requiring him to cease selling anything is really stumping me. Many people have items for sale at the curb, or how about the numerous garage sales that happen on a daily basis? Some individuals have more than one garage sale during the summer months.

I understand that there needs to be some ordinances and law, but it seems that some people are targeted more than others. It seems to be only certain areas of this city are being targeted. Are the ordinances realistic? If it's against an ordinance to sell personal property, then why are we allowing garage sales? Is the city staff acting fairly in deciding who to target? I think not. There are plenty of properties in this city that should be looked at and yet they are focused on a retired individual who to pass time and keep his self pride intact works on a few lawnmowers and periodically tries to sell one.

Denise Becker





New revenue for schools highlights 2017 K-12 accomplishments

The arrival of September means residents can expect a number of changes: leaves changing color, football on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, and students heading back to school.

With parents beginning to think about their child's classes and classroom expenses, I thought now would be a great time to remind residents how the Legislature prioritized K-12 Education last session.

Some people believe that bipartisanship no longer occurs at the Capitol, but that is truly not the case. Last session a Republican-led Legislature and Gov. Mark Dayton agreed to a historic education funding proposal designed to give schools and teachers the resources they need to succeed.

Some of the agreement areas: $1.3 billion in new revenue to be allocated to schools across Minnesota, and there's a 2 percent increase to the per-pupil funding formula over each of the next two years. Locally, our K-12 funding proposal means South Washington County Schools will receive $7.703 million in funding increases, while Hastings will collect $1.825 million in new revenue.

The Legislature also implemented meaningful reforms during the 2017 session, including an investment in proven early education programming like pre-K scholarships and school readiness.

All of us want to see our children receive a world-class education, and providing needed resources to our school districts is certainly one of the ways we can help achieve that goal.

I'd also like to remind parents about Minnesota's tax credit programs for education expenses, so be sure to save your school supply receipts this year. Qualifying items include writing utensils, textbooks, and musical instrument rentals, while things like school lunches, uniforms, and backpacks do not. Full details about the education credit, and what can and cannot be claimed, are found on the Department of Revenue's website:

Here's wishing the best of luck to all of the students, parents, and teachers in South Washington County and Hastings schools. Have a wonderful school year.

State Rep. Tony Jurgens

R-Cottage Grove