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col Here's this week's Hot Topic:

We are part of The Trust Project.

``Do you favor a moratorium on new feedlots?''

Each Tuesday, the Post-Bulletin poses to its readers a question on a Hot Topic. Selected responses to Hot Topic questions will run on the Commentary page the following Tuesday. Names and addresses of respondents are recommended. We will consider anonymous comments, but preference will be given to signed comments.

Today's Hot Topic question involves feedlots. The Minnesota Legislature is considering a bill that would place a moratorium on new, large-scale feedlots to give the state time to study their environmental impact. The House already has approved a bill calling for a three-year moratorium; the Senate and Gov. Arne Carlson oppose a moratorium, saying it's unnecessary and threatens to harm one of the state's major agricultural industries.

To respond to the Hot Topic question:

Write your response to Greg Turosak, news editor, Post-Bulletin, P.O. Box 6118, Rochester, MN 55903-6118.

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Call 281-8336, and record your answer after the beep, indentifying your message as a Hot Topic response.

Send e-mail to letterspostbulletin.com and identify the message as a Hot Topic response. | Last week's question:

``What would you do with the projected $1.9 billion surplus the state expects to collect in the next two years?''

Below are some of the responses we received: I think the tax-hungry animals up there in St. Paul ought to give it back to the people they steal it from. Not use it for some other worthless socialist project.

-- Anonymous

Definitely reduce taxes. We are one of the highest taxed states in the country. Or give some type of property tax relief. But definitely do something with it because obviously we are overtaxed, and if we don't do something then the politicians will just end up spending it.

-- Anonymous

The money should be returned to the taxpayers who sent it there in the first place, and then an effort should be made to reduce completely the state income tax as it is, and just rely on the state sales tax as income for the state of Minnesota. We are being taxed unfairly, I think, and we are one of the highest taxed states in the Union.

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-- Anonymous

The surplus that the state has I would really like to see go into the education fund K-12, and again back to the schools. It seems like our schools have had so many cuts and so much taken away from them, and we have more children who need language interpreters. I just would like to see that given back to the state in that way. Investing in our youth is what will make our state stronger. Karen VanWier 1636 Sixth Ave. S.W.

I have spoken to some of our local legislators about the projected surplus. They have said they can afford to give it back to the taxpayers, and who would disagree with that? But I also think we should have a permanent income tax rate reduction because it is very costly to transfer this money back and forth all the time by taxing and then refunding. Minnesota is a truly great state in so many ways, but I cringe when I hear we are consistently in the top five highest taxed states in the country. We need to let our legislators know how we feel about this matter. They are dealing with our pocketbooks, so let's be vigilant.

-- Anonymous

I am an injured worker who has been off work with the injury for approximately 13 years.

As an injured worker, any settlement compensation for that injury must come from the state of Minnesota as I am, and was, registered in the Second Injury classification. That means that the state must pay any cash settlement that would be paid to me -- rather than the employer.

Oddly enough, in my opinion this constitutes a huge conflict of interest. Any sort of appeal to any decisions in my case must be appealed and heard by the state of Minnesota. If I disagree with a decision of the state, the state becomes the arbiter, when normally the employer's insurance company would pay me and I'm, in this scenario, stuck with the state's decision.

If you extrapolate all this, it equates into a double standard; i.e., they, the state, act as arbiter in all work-related injuries if you need an arbiter. In my case, they are both arbiter and adversary.

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To finish my paradox, if the state has a $1.9 billion surplus, I have yet to hear a motion to adequately pay injured workers such as myself or any mention of considering using some of the money to take care of injured workers, which the state of Minnesota is responsible for. I find it a satirical irony in the TV commercial where a senator is dancing up the stairs of the Capitol singing sardonically, ``We got your money; we got your money.''

In my case, that sums it up very poignantly. Why does not the state pay its financial responsibilities to injured workers? Why? In a fair and adequate way when they arbitrate between an insurance company for the employer of the injured worker, there is no conflict of interest. But in my case, there is a conflict of interest when they are both the arbiter and the adversary. Paul Loveday Kasson

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