Short takes for March 1

Tigers move on to state

THUMBS UP: The Marshall High School girls and boys basketball teams usually are the ones grabbing all the headlines at this time of year. Now, it’s time they share the spotlight with the boys hockey team. For the first time in school history, the hockey team is section champion and will play in the Minnesota State High School Hockey Tournament. The Tigers, the fourth seed in Section 3A, defeated Hutchinson, 3-2, on the strength of a late overtime goal by Alex Buysse to ignite a first-of-its-kind on-ice, celebration for the black and orange. We hope this isn’t their last one this season.

Not a time for threats

THUMBS DOWN: A group opposed to gay marriage is getting tough and threatening Minnesota Republicans who support the legalization of gay marriage in Minnesota. The National Organization for Marriage said Monday that a vote for gay marriage would be a career-ender for Republicans. This is the same group that spent $2 million last year on the campaign to ban gay marriage in Minnesota’s Constitution. It says it will spend another $500,000 to defeat Republican lawmakers. The group also said it will financially support Democrats who vote against legalizing gay marriage. Seems like a drastic last-resort kind of step to take to prevent gay marriages in Minnesota and one that speaks to the divisiveness and volatility of this issue. We hope our elected officials won’t allow themselves to be threatened by NOM and instead let their conscience determine how they vote. This issue is contentious and, at times, ugly enough that we don’t need threats brought into the fold.

One step at a time on minimum wage

THUMBS UP: A House committee on Thursday passed a bill that would raise the state’s minimum wage to more than $10 per hour by 2015, but more than that we like the step-by-step approach area legislators are taking with the issue of raising the minimum wage in Minnesota. That being said, we believe they should let nothing stop them from approving an increase this year. Not since 2005 has the state bumped up the minimum wage rate; it’s high time it does it. Republicans are rightfully concerned how a wage increase will affect small businesses, so it’s important not to go overboard when it comes to settling on a number. But Minnesota has been behind the times on this for so long, it’s hard to imagine any legislator will let the prospect of businesses being set back a bit (and that’s not necessarily a given) stop them from voting in favor of a hike that we think will be a positive for the state and local economy. Minimum wage workers in Minnesota deserve to take home more.

Big weekend for ReStore

THUMBS UP: Marshall’s Habitat ReStore is having its open house Saturday and we wish the organization the best of luck in its new location at 300 N. U.S. Highway 59. ReStores like the one in Marshall truly give meaning to giving back by selling donated items at a discount and using all proceeds to build or renovate homes for local families in need. Marshall’s Habitat ReStore, one of 12 in Minnesota, has saved nearly 700,000 pounds of recycled goods from the landfill in the last four years – in the past year alone, the ReStore has diverted more than 170,000 pounds from the area landfill. That’s addition by subtraction.

Priority No. 1 should be the budget

THUMBS DOWN: It seems as though the gay marriage issue is getting fast-tracked in St. Paul, and we don’t understand why. Certainly, this is an important issue that affects many people; it’s a personal issue, too, with two sides that have made their voices heard and then some. But it can wait. The Legislature should be more concerned about the budget that diving into an issue that deserves its undivided attention – if that’s possible at the Capitol. Instead, it should clear its calendar and get the budget figured out sooner rather than later. Once that’s done, then they can address social issues. Solving the budget is the one thing that has historically caused a special session; with one-party control at the Capitol, under the leadership of a governor of the same party, it’s not likely the 2013 session will go into overtime again this year, but why even risk it? Take care of the budget now – that affects all of us.