The Free Press, Mankato, MN

June 22, 2013

Our View: Memorial squad has honor

The Mankato Free Press

---- — Thumbs up to the Mankato area memorial squad that has been providing military honors at funerals for more than four decades

The 13 members of the local squad include a color guard, a bugler and seven riflemen. Caskets are saluted and family members of the deceased receive an American flag. The ceremonies can be quite moving and add reverence to the local services.

These kinds of groups are not as common as they used to be and the duty is not always easy. Members have to stand at “parade rest” during services that can be 20-30 minutes.

Members of the unit are from the Mankato American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars posts. The group participated in 87 funerals last year. They give freely of their time and make a veterans funeral a little more special with their tribute.

Student outreach on housing laudable

Thumbs up to the city of Mankato for its plan to offer a new mobile phone application for students that is aimed at educating them about housing and rental issues in Mankato.

It also offers tips on what to look for in a rental unit and reminds them of applicable laws concerning parties, social host ordinances for underage drinking and other suggestions for being good neighbors.

Pitching in packs a punch

Thumbs up to the 170 or so volunteers from more than 20 businesses that participated in the United Way’s Day of Action and actually turned it into a week’s worth of community service projects.

Mowing, planting, washing windows, cleaning, organizing, entertaining children. There was a full list of action involved in this week’s projects that helped such places as VINE, Partners for Affordable Housing, SMILES, American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, Salvation Army and other nonprofit agencies.

The volunteers not only accomplished a lot of practical tasks, but the volunteer work meant increased camaraderie among the co-workers who acted as a team to help out someone in need.

House disappoints on farm bill

Thumbs down to the members of the House of Representatives, Democrats and Republicans, who voted against passing the five-year farm bill that would have given farmers confidence to move forward with their business plans.

The votes had been coming together for bipartisan passage until the end when several poison pill amendments scuttled Republican and Democrat votes. In the end, the bill failed 234-195, with 62 Republicans voting against and only 24 Democrats voting for it. First District Democrat Congressman Tim Walz voted in favor of the bill.

The legislation that cut farm subsidies and food stamp programs alike was scuttled based on last minute amendments. Democrats bailed out of supporting when Republicans added amendments that added stringent work requirements for people on food stamps. Some Republicans voted against the bill because they said the $2 billion in food stamps program cuts weren’t enough.

In the end, predictably, Democrats and Republicans blamed each other for the farm bill’s demise. The Senate, last week, passed its version of the farm bill with overwhelming bipartisan support and cuts of $400 million to the food stamp program as well as cuts to farm subsidies.

With passage scuttled at least for now, the old farm bill will still apply, and that did not have many of the reforms and cuts to spending that would have been achieved with the new farm bill. It’s a kind of twisted irony that seems to be lost on those who voted against the bill.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., pleaded with his colleagues to pass the bill saying it carried some of the biggest reforms in years and saved $4 billion a year in spending.

He told them the public would look at defeat of the bill as another example of a dysfunctional Congress.