Commentary & Community

Ohio, Indiana, Minnesota Mandate Masks

This week, two more states enacted a mask mandate as coronavirus cases continue growing across the nation.


On Wednesday, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz mandated that anyone eating indoors at a restaurant or in a business must wear a mask. He said it was the cheapest and most efficient way to stop the spread of the coronavirus and that it would help lead to a situation where schools could re-open.


That same day, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb also issued a mask order. His requires that anyone in public indoor spaces, on public transportation, or outdoors while not socially distanced must be wearing a mask. It covers anyone who is 8 or older. Ohio Gov. Mike Dewine issued a similar order on Wednesday, too.


There are now 31 states where face masks are mandatory. Governors from both parties have issued such mandates, seeing them as part of a public health strategy to stop the spread of the coronavirus.


Critics of the mandate argue that this is an infringement of individual liberty. They say that businesses should be free to require masks, but that government should not mandate their use. Some also say the science is not strong enough to warrant such a mandate.


While President Trump has lately encouraged the wearing of masks, he has said he does not support a federal mask mandate.

Do you think state government should mandate the wearing of masks?

Minnesota Candidates Call for Refugee Resettlement Suspension


Minnesota has a long history of taking in refugees who flee their home countries to live in the U.S. Two candidates for governor want to pause this effort, however, citing their concerns over cost.


There is a large refugee community in Minnesota, with many refugees from Somalia settling there in recent years. The federal government funds part of these resettlement efforts, but there are also costs that Minnesota bears, too. However, efforts to calculate those costs have proven difficult to do, since many state programs do not ask about refugee status.


A Republican candidate running for governor, Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, has said he wants to work with the federal government to suspend the refugee program until the state can figure out how much it costs taxpayers. Another Republican in the race, former Governor Tim Pawlenty, agrees.


These candidates contend they are not opposed to refugees coming to Minnesota, but simply want to ensure that tax dollars are being used wisely. They say that if the program can become more cost-effective, they would support it.


One Democrat running for governor, Erin Murphy, says she vigorously disagrees with this proposal. Other groups in the state have also pushed back, saying that the state should welcome those fleeing war or persecution in their home countries.


Refugee resettlement is done by the federal government. If either Johnson or Pawlenty is elected, he would have to obtain federal cooperation to suspend the placement of refugees in Minnesota.


Do you think that refugee resettlement in Minnesota should be suspended until the state figures out the cost? Or do you think that it is unfair for state officials to deny homes to refugees over cost issues?


Governor, Legislators at Odds over Minnesota Oil Pipeline


An energy company wants to build a new oil pipeline through Minnesota, but it is meeting some resistance from activists and elected officials. The fight over Enbridge’s Line 3 replacement project has caused a heated debate in St. Paul. Governor Mark Dayton, a Democrat, and the Republicans who control the legislature have differing approaches on the project’s approval.


Enbridge already operates a pipeline, named Line 3, through Minnesota. This pipeline starts in Alberta, Canada, and ends in Wisconsin, but it delivers crude oil to Minnesota. The current pipeline was built in the 1960s, and Enbridge wants to replace it with a modern pipeline. The easiest way to do this is construct a new pipeline along a different route from the current one.


Environmentalists, tribal communities, and religious groups oppose this new route. They cite a variety of concerns, such as the new route going through environmentally sensitive areas and infringing upon areas that Indians consider sacred. Enbridge says that this new route is necessary to ensure that there is no disruption from taking the existing pipeline offline.


In May, legislators passed a bill that would direct the state Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to approve the pipeline route. Governor Dayton vetoed the bill. This leaves the final decision with the PUC, which will hold a series of hearings this month on the project. After those hearings, the commissioners will vote on Enbridge’s route request.


Do you support the replacement project for the Line 3 oil pipeline in Minnesota?


Abortion Ultrasound Bill Vetoed in Minnesota


Should doctors ask women seeking an abortion if they would like to see an ultrasound of the fetus? In Minnesota, legislators and Governor Mark Dayton disagree on this issue. In early May, Governor Dayton vetoed a bill that would mandate that doctors do this, illustrating the divisions in the state over this controversial issue.


The legislation at question would have required doctors to as a woman if she would like to see an ultrasound picture of her fetus prior to starting the abortion procedure. The bill would not have mandated that a woman view the ultrasound.


Governor Dayton vetoed this bill, saying that it interfered with the doctor-patient relationship. He also pointed out that the state medical association and the state’s association for obstetricians and gynecologists were opposed to it, too.


Supporters of the bill said that it was a way to provide more information to women seeking to end their pregnancy. They said that some women may choose a different option if they were able to see an ultrasound prior to an abortion.


Many states around the nation have considered laws regulating abortion this year. Some states, such as Iowa, have seen governors sign these restrictions into law. In other states, like Minnesota, there is disagreement between the governor and legislators over what the law should be regarding abortion. Some abortion restrictions enacted recently in states have prompted legal challenges, with courts striking down or putting on hold a few of these new laws.


Do you think that doctors should be required to offer an ultrasound picture of the fetus to women prior to an abortion?


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