The November general election is almost upon us and many voters may not be aware that there are two important measures on the ballot this year.

The November general election is almost upon us and many voters may not  be aware that there are two important measures on the ballot this year.

At the local level, Montevideo residents will  have the opportunity to decide if Sunday liquor should be allowed.

By bringing the question before the voters, the city of Montevideo wants to be clear that the city is neutral on the issue.

Glennis Lauritsen, clerk for the city of Montevideo, said, “The city’s only interest in the matter has to deal with the issuance of various liquor licenses.”

Currently, city ordinance does not allow Sunday liquor.

Ryan Flinn, owner of Inn  Like Flinns, asked the city to put the issue before the voters. “We can’t compete with businesses outside of city limits,” said Flinn. “We need fair competition.”

Inn Like Flinns used to be open on Sundays. Flinn said, “The reason I had to close on Sundays is that there was no revenue. Sunday liquor is something all of the competition already has,” he added.

“Would we be open every Sunday? I don’t  know, but I’d like to have that option,” said Flinn.

Gary Groothuis, owner of Groat’s, echoed Flinn’s sentiments. “It would be nice to have the option to be open on Super Bowl Sunday,” he said.

Even if voters approve Sunday liquor, Groothuis has no plans to be open on Sundays. He said, “My hours wouldn’t change if it passed, but I understand why others want the playing field leveled.”

A state constitutional amendment will also be on the ballot when voters go to the polls on Nov. 8.

The question to be put before the voters is: “Shall the Minnesota Constitu­tion be amended to remove state lawmakers’ power to set their own salaries, and instead establish an independent, citizens-only council to prescribe salaries of lawmakers?”

Minnesota voters have heard little, if anything, about this proposed amendment.

There have been no grassroots campaigns organized in favor of or against the amendment. No television commercials. No “vote yes “ or “vote no” signs have appeared on Minnesotans’ lawns.

The official ballot title is: “Remove Lawmakers’ Power to Set Their Own Pay.”

A “yes” vote supports creating an independent, citizen-run board to set the salaries of state legislators, thereby taking away legislator’s power to set their own salaries.

A “no” vote opposes creating an independent, citizen-run board to set the salaries of state legislators, thereby continuing to allow legislators to determine their own salary.

Sen. Kent Eken, of Twin Valley, sponsored the amendment. He feels that the conflict of interest aspect of legislators setting their own pay would be resolved by the passage of the amendment.

“It’s one that’s a pretty common sense constitutional amendment,” he said. “I’ve been trying to do this for a decade,” he added.

“In the past,” said Eken, “there have been members of the legislature who voted against pay increases, then accepted the pay increase after it passed. The amendment would remove this conflict of interest from the legislature.”

The legislature last received a pay increase in 1999, when the base pay was set at $31,140.

Rep. Dean Urdahl, of New London, initially voted no when the issue was brought to the house floor. “It was one of those votes that I could have gone either way on,” he said.

One concern he had was that a commission could lower legislative salaries, as well as raise them. Such a prospect could potentially limit the number of candidates willing to serve the people of Minnesota.

Serving as a legislator has generally been considered to be a part-time job. Yet this part time job has been slowly turning out to be more than “part time.”

Urdahl said, “The responsibilities of the job are growing, therefore, for some people, it is difficult to balance the requirements of the job with their responsibilities outside of the job.

“Upon reflection, I feel I can support the amendment,” said Urdahl.

The commission would be comprised of one individual selected from each of the 16 congressional districts in Minnesota.

The chief justice of the state supreme court would choose eight members, and the governor would choose eight members.

Individuals selected could not have any ties to current or past politicians or lobbyists and they cannot be former politicians or lobbyists.

Eken wants to be sure that every voter casts a vote on the amendment. “If people don’t vote on it, it will count as a no vote,” he said.

“It’s one that’s a pretty common sense constitutional amendment. Com­mon sense says we shouldn’t be passing our  own pay raises.”



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