.What is your position on gun control?
I am a supporter of a mainstream, balanced approach to gun control. I respect the tradition of hunting and gun sports as someone who was raised in a family that practiced both. At the same time, I recognize that guns in the wrong hands threaten everyone’s safety. The more guns afloat in society, the easier it is for them to fall into the wrong hands. I oppose the misnamed “concealed and carry” legislation as a poorly drafted attempt to raise gun rights above all other rights. I have a particular sensitivity for what the easy access to guns means to the incidence and lethality of domestic violence and suicide attempts.
What is your position on a statewide smoking ban?
I support a statewide smoking ban in line with traditional social action in the interest of public health. The current demonstration of support around the state for local smoking bans shows that the public is ahead of elected officials in supporting clean, indoor air. A statewide ban would standardize regulations across the state and allow bars and restaurants in neighboring communities to operate competitively on a level playing field.
What is your position on same-sex marriage? Should marriage be dealt with at a state or federal level?
No legislature in North America has voluntarily legalized same-sex marriage. We as a state can debate the meaning of the word “marriage.” At the same time we also have to recognize that same-sex families have the same needs for financial stability, access to benefits, respect for their family’s values and inheritance rights as opposite-sex families. As such, we should provide all families with legal structures that simplify the process for gaining these needs on an equal basis.
What is your position on abortion? How do you feel about the “Women’s Right to Know” Act?
I support the Roe v. Wade decision and a woman’s right and ability to make decisions about her reproductive health. I opposed the so-called “Women’s Right to Know” legislation as disrespectful of the doctor-patient relationship and an interference with a woman’s right to make health-care decisions free of outside interventions.
What is your position on stem cell research? Should the state government fund stem cell research?
I support the ability of researchers to pursue stem cell research as a scientific pursuit, with an emphasis on investigations that connect to medical advances. While research should not be separated from its ethical dimensions, those debates should reflect all sides and not just a narrow, one-sided and unscientific view. Government does have a role in funding stem cell research as both a scientific endeavor and an important area of possible advances for health care as an industry that provides a wide variety of well-paying jobs in Minnesota.
How should Minnesota deal with the current traffic congestion problems?
Under current leadership, Minnesota has abandoned a common-sense, balanced approach to transportation. What is needed is a significantly greater emphasis on transit options, while also dealing with bottle necks and necessary road construction projects. The recent experience with light rail transit ridership significantly above projections seems to indicate a strong underlying willingness to use fast, efficient, clean transit options among many Minnesotans.
What is your position on health care?
The rising cost of health care is a complex problem requiring a multipronged response. Strategies to provide businesses with relief from health-care costs should include a state program to cover all children in the state with health insurance funded by an increase in the cigarette tax. This would both assure all children access to important preventative care, saving money in the future and saving businesses millions in dependent insurance costs they now experience. Allowing small businesses to provide health insurance through the current MinnesotaCare program would expand access to affordable health care for many who are currently uninsured or who must purchase expensive individual policies on the private market. Allowing for the direct importation of medicines and allowing the state to band together with other states in large buying pools would also put the weight of all Minnesotans on the side of competitive drug costs.
Would you change the current tax policy? If so, how?
Current tax policy is increasingly regressive and is not meeting the needs of Minnesotans for either a fair tax system or the sort of public services they want and deserve. My first priority is to close tax loopholes that currently allow corporations to avoid paying some taxes and distort business decisions and actions. Additional priorities would include repealing the phase out of limited market value in property taxes, a policy that is leading to rapidly escalating property tax bills, particularly on lowered value properties.
What is your position on funding for higher education?
As someone who recognizes that in a global economy education is the competitive issue, I am a strong supporter of funding higher education in a way that provides both the University and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities systems with the funding they need to provide Minnesota with a competitive system at an affordable price. Higher-education opportunities are an investment in both individual opportunity and community well-being.