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In the first 4 parts of this series (found here, here, here and here), I focused on different facets of the inadequacies of the Dayton-Rothman Commerce Department. I categorized each of the shortcomings and culprits. Most importantly, I identified the opportunities that the Dayton-Rothman Commerce Department missed and why.

This article will pull everything together so we can put together a less hostile, more business-friendly set of policies that doesn’t sacrifice the environment. First, we’ll need to streamline the regulatory review process so hostile environmental activists don’t have multiple opportunities to throttle key infrastructure projects. Whether we’re talking about killing the Sandpiper Pipeline project, the constant attempts by the Sierra Club, Conservation Minnesota and Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness to kill both the Twin Metals and the PolyMet projects or the Public Utilities Commission and the Dayton-Rothman Commerce Department, it’s clear that the DFL is openly hostile to major infrastructure projects.

It’s long past time to get the PUC out of the public safety/transportation business. Similarly, it’s time to get the Commerce Department out of the environmental regulatory industry. Public safety and transportation belong in MnDOT’s purview, not the PUC’s. Environmental regulations need to be significantly streamlined, then shipped over to the DNR. There should be a period for fact-finding and public comment. There should be the submitting and approval/disapproval of an Environmental Impact Statement and the submitting and approval/disapproval of an Economic Impact Statement.

Further, laws should be changed so that there’s no longer a requirement to submit an application for a “certificate of need.” In effect, that’s a bureaucratic regulatory veto of major infrastructure projects. That isn’t acceptable. There should be a time limit placed on the bureaucrats, too. They should have to accept or reject applications within a reasonable period of time. That’s because regulators have sometimes used delaying tactics to throttle projects without leaving a paper trail. It’s also been used to deny companies the right to appeal rulings. (If there isn’t a ruling, there isn’t an appeal.)

Third, streamlining the review process limits the opportunities for environmental activists to kill projects like those mentioned above. There’s a reason why it’s called the Commerce Department, not the Department of Endless Delays and Excessive Costs, which is what it’s become. Eliminating the PUC’s oversight responsibilities, especially in terms of approving certificates of need, will eliminate the impact that environmental activists serving on that Board can have in killing or at least delaying major infrastructure projects.

Fourth, it’s important that we bring clarity and consistency to this state’s regulatory regime. The system Minnesota has now breeds uncertainty. That steals jobs from Minnesota because companies attempt to avoid Minnesota entirely whenever possible. While we want to preserve our lakes, rivers and streams, we want to preserve our middle class, too. The environment shouldn’t be put on a pedestal while communities die thanks to a dying middle class.

I’ve seen too often how once-proud parts of Minnesota that have a heavy regulatory burden have seen their middle class essentially disappear. Cities like Virginia and Eveleth come to mind. It’s immoral to give a Twin Cities agency the authority to kill Iron Range communities. That’s literally what’s happening right now.

For the last 7 years, Gov. Dayton has run an administration that’s of, by and for the environmental activist wing of the DFL. If you work in a construction union, you haven’t had a great run. That isn’t right. People who work hard and play by the rules should be able to put a roof over their family’s head, set money aside for their kids’ college education and save for their retirement. For far too many people, that hasn’t happened recently.

The next Republican governor should implement these changes ASAP. It’s time to destroy the Dayton ‘Hostile to business’ sign and replace it with an ‘Open for business’ sign. It’s time to get Minnesota government working for everyone once again.

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Saying that MEP, aka Minnesota Environmental Partnership, is dishonest and biased when it comes to fossil fuels is understatement. In their statement about the Dayton Department of Commerce testimony to the Public Utilities Commission, Steve Morse, MEP’s Executive Director, admitted that MEP hates fossil fuels.

He admitted it when he said “The age of growth in fossil fuel demand is over. We don’t need increased fossil fuel capacity. Instead, We need to get about the business of abandoning and cleaning up the existing Line 3.” That’s a pretty stunning statement, especially considering the fact that natural gas will be needed for at least three-fourths of this century to replace coal-fired power plants for baseline energy generation.

In MEP’s official statement, Morse also said “We commend the Department of Commerce for taking a hard look at the data and carefully considering the criteria that are in law for this type of project. The Department found that this pipeline is not needed for Minnesota, that it does not benefit Minnesota, and is not good for Minnesota.”

That’s a narrow-minded view of things. First, legislators from northwest Minnesota have criticized the Minnesota Department of Commerce for their narrow-minded perspective:

“Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration is ‘siding with environmental extremism instead of common sense.’ ‘Shutting down this pipeline will have a substantial impact on rural Minnesota’, Fabian said in the statement. ‘Our local counties, school districts and townships will lose critical property tax revenue, and what’s more, jobs will be affected and there will be fewer workers patronizing local businesses like our grocery stores and motels. Plain and simple, bureaucrats in St. Paul are advancing policies that hurt Greater Minnesota.’”

Friday night on Almanac, Steve Morse debated Cam Winton on the merits of the pipeline. The arguments made by Steve Morse weren’t totally without merit. They weren’t the least bit persuasive, either. I’ve been watching environmentalists for 40+ years. In that time, their statistics and ‘facts’ have been consistently inaccurate. The notion that we’re starting to use less fossil fuels is preposterous. Yes, we’re driving more fuel efficient cars. Yes, car manufacturers are manufacturing more hybrids. No, society isn’t reducing the amount of gasoline we’re using. Watch the video of the interview, which starts approximately 5 minutes in:

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Rep. Dan Fabian and Sen. Mark Johnson didn’t mince words in their criticism of Gov. Dayton on his administration’s ruling that the pipeline isn’t needed.

In the opening paragraph of the article, it says the “Department of Commerce’s recent analysis that an Enbridge pipeline project is unnecessary defies common sense, northwest Minnesota legislators said this week.” Then it gets into specifics, saying “Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration is ‘siding with environmental extremism instead of common sense.’ ‘Shutting down this pipeline will have a substantial impact on rural Minnesota’, Fabian said in the statement. ‘Our local counties, school districts and townships will lose critical property tax revenue, and what’s more, jobs will be affected and there will be fewer workers patronizing local businesses like our grocery stores and motels. Plain and simple, bureaucrats in St. Paul are advancing policies that hurt Greater Minnesota.'”

That’s the heart of the matter. The DFL is ruled by environmental extremists who want to totally eliminate the use of fossil fuels. I know that sounds paranoid but it’s based on what the Sierra Club has said publicly. The Sierra Club is even opposed to natural gas:

If drillers can’t extract natural gas without destroying landscapes and endangering the health of families, then we should not drill for natural gas.

There isn’t much difference between the Dayton administration saying that we don’t need pipelines because our need for oil “isn’t likely to increase over the long-term” and the Sierra Club insisting that natural gas isn’t clean. Neither statement is credible.

The Sierra Club’s hands aren’t clean, either:

Then there’s this:

“I am frustrated the Dayton administration and Department of Commerce are once again dragging their feet on this project and throwing roadblock after roadblock in the way of this critical pipeline replacement,” Johnson said in the statement. “It seems they are more interested in working for special interests instead of supporting citizens, industry and good-paying jobs.”

In late August, Johnson, Fabian, Rep. Deb Kiel, R-Crookston, and 50 other state legislators signed a letter of support for the project. “The Department of Commerce’s recommendation to shut down and not replace Enbridge Line 3 is another example of policymakers in St. Paul ignoring common sense and the priorities of Greater Minnesota,” Kiel said in a statement Thursday. “It’s time the Dayton Administration put the people of Minnesota first instead of special interests.”

If the DFL wants to know why they lost the rural vote and is losing ground on the labor vote, this article explains it pretty well. You can’t be pro-laborer while opposing the projects that employ those unionists. The DFL has done a masterful job — if their goal was to alienate construction unions.

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This article provides some interesting insights into the Minnesota Supreme Court’s line-item ruling. It’s worth reading just for the plethora of quotes from lawmakers. One of the more interesting quotes was from former Speaker and former House Minority Leader Paul Thissen.

Rep. Thissen’s habit of never missing an opportunity to miss a golden opportunity is fun to watch. According to the article, “Echoing that point, former House Speaker Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, called for transparent mediation. ‘We work for Minnesotans, and they deserve a process that is open to the public,’ Thissen said. ‘They deserve to know who is in the room, and they have the right to know what is being said.'”

Let’s dissect that quote. First, Rep. Thissen is right that the legislature works for the people. Rep. Thissen didn’t do that. In 2013, in payback to their public employee union special interests, the DFL passed a bill that Gov. Dayton signed that gave SEIU and AFSCME the right to organize in-home child care providers. The thing is that those in-home child care providers, led by Hollee Saville, showed up en masse at the Capitol that day. They lobbied against the bill. They told DFL legislators that they didn’t want to be part of a union. The DFL ignored them.

As I said, the bill passed. Then it was signed into law. When the organizing vote happened, the people that the DFL supposedly work for rejected the union by a vote of 1,014-392. Over 72% of voters rejected unionization. This wasn’t a nail-biter. It was more like Reagan vs. Mondale in 1984, Nixon vs. McGovern in 1972 or LBJ vs. Goldwater in 1964.

Q: Why didn’t then-Speaker Thissen listen to the people instead of the special interests?

Another part of the quote has Rep. Thissen saying “They deserve to know who is in the room, and they have the right to know what is being said.” I don’t remember then-Speaker Thissen insisting that negotiations between him, Sen. Bakk and Gov. Dayton be transparent. In fact, what we got from the DFL leadership was a statement saying that they’d agreed to raise taxes after negotiations had theoretically concluded. They we found out that one of those DFL leaders didn’t like the tax bill. That led to further negotiations and another statement.

At no point in 2013 did then-Speaker Thissen insist on transparent negotiations.

Watch this speech from Rep. Thissen:

In the speech, Rep. Thissen accuses Republicans of raising property taxes. That’s a lie. Republicans don’t propose raising taxes. That’s what the DFL did in 2013-14. During those years, property taxes in Princeton and St. Cloud skyrocketed.

Rep. Thissen talks a great game. Rep. Thissen’s problem is that his actions don’t match his statements. That’s why he’s one of the least-liked legislators in Minnesota. (If you don’t believe me, ask the GOP staffers Thissen attacked.)

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Al Franken’s anti-religious bigotry is getting more disgusting by the day. Last week, Franken criticized Amy Coney-Barrett, President Trump’s nominee to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, for being associated with a civil rights law firm that the Southern Poverty Law Center, aka SPLC, has designated as a hate group.

First, the name of the civil rights group is the Alliance for the Defense of Freedom, aka ADF. ADF represented Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, MO in the Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer in the Supreme Court. According to that ruling, the Trinity Lutheran Church Child Learning Center ran a “preschool and daycare center.” The Center applied to “replace a large portion of the pea gravel with a pour-in-place rubber surface by participating in Missouri’s Scrap Tire Program.” ADF not only won the case. They won by a 7-2 margin, meaning it was a pretty clear-cut case.

After Ms. Barrett’s confirmation hearing, “ADF president, CEO and general counsel Michael Farris” issued this statement. The statement said “It is deeply regrettable that Sen. Franken is misinformed about our work on behalf of religious freedom, something so ‘extreme’ that even seven justices of the U.S. Supreme Court agreed with our position three months ago in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer. There is a real danger of conflating genuine hate groups, like the Ku Klux Klan, with mainstream religious beliefs that are shared by millions of Americans and people from all walks of life across the world. As a member of Congress, Sen. Franken needs to fact-check before parroting discredited attacks by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a once-proud civil rights organization that is now a left-wing smear machine known to incite violence. Alliance Defending Freedom is the largest religious liberty legal advocacy organization in the world and advocates for the freedom of all people—including Sen. Franken’s constituents—to peacefully live, speak, and work consistently with their convictions without fear of government punishment.”

Greg Gutfeld summed up the SPLC perfectly in this segment:

This week, Sen. Franken’s credibility as a legislator took a major hit. You wouldn’t know that by the Twin Cities media but it’s there. Franken is still pouring through the handful of Minnesota Supreme Court rulings that Justice David Stras participated in but the SPLC has gotten a total pass by Franken. Sen. Franken accepts the SPLC’s hateful statements as though they were carved on stone tablets without examining their principles but he criticizes organizations he knows nothing about because they don’t share his warped ideology.

Sen. Franken is a shill and ideologue. He isn’t a serious legislator. His accomplishments are virtually nonexistent. He reflexively rejects opinions held by people he ideologically disagrees with. This is consistent with the alt-left’s practices. Sen. Franken and the alt-left don’t believe in compromise, discussion or coming together based on principle. This is the end result:

Based on Sen. Franken’s affiliation with Antifa’s thugs, it’s fair to ask if we have more to fear from Sen. Franken and Antifa than we have to fear from Prof. Coney-Barrett and ADF.

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Though Democrats insist that DACA is constitutional, it’s been a long time since anyone took their statements seriously. When then-President Obama signed that EO, he did 2 things that won’t pass constitutional muster. First and most importantly, he temporarily exempted an entire demographic group of people from deportation. Then-President Obama’s EO didn’t permanently exempt DREAMers from prosecution or deportation. It just temporarily delayed action on DREAMers. Greg Jarrett’s article sheds an important light on DACA.

In his article, Jarrett writes “At the end of the 19th century, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that congress has ‘plenary power’ (meaning full and complete) to regulate immigration. Derived from Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, the doctrine is based on the concept that immigration is a question of national sovereignty, relating to a nation’s right to define its own borders and restrict entrance therein. As the high court observed, ‘Over no conceivable subject is the legislative power of Congress more complete.'”

Considering this information and considering the fact that there’s a well-known proposal that would protect DREAMers permanently, the question is whether Democrats will be reasonable. At this point, I’m betting that they’ll be unreasonable. I’m basing that opinion partially on this video:

Democrats are insisting that Republicans pass the DREAM Act immediately. If the Democrats’ demands aren’t met, Senate Minority Leader Schumer said that they’ll attach the DREAM Act to every bill that the Senate considers until it’s passed. I’d love to see Sen. McConnell tell Sen. Schumer that DREAMers will get protection the minute Democrats vote to fund President Trump’s wall and not a minute sooner.

This does 2 things to Democrats. First, it forces vulnerable Senate Democrats to vote against building the wall. For senators living on the coasts, that isn’t a big deal. For senators living in the Heartland, that’s a big deal. It’s a big deal because it’s a potentially a career-ending vote. Next, it forces Democrats to make a decision on whether being reasonable is more important than obeying the Democrats’ special interest allies. If Democrats vote with their special interest allies, they’ll identify themselves as defenders of The Swamp.

That’s a difficult position to defend going into an election year. Let’s remember that the people that vote in midterms are more conservative than those that vote in presidential elections. Senate Democrats are already running into strong headwinds because of the red states they’re defending seats in. Couple that with the fact that some liberal senators will be running in some fairly red states and you’ve got the definition of pressure. If Democrats side with La Raza, aka NCLR, instead of siding with the American people, they’ll pay a heavy price in November, 2018.

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It’s indisputable that the Democratic Party is the party of identity politics. Scott Johnson’s post highlights the Democrats’ moral depravity by highlighting Sen. Franken’s and Sen. Klobuchar’s silent ‘filibuster’ of Justice David Stras.

In his post, Johnson wrote “On Thursday left-wing interest groups released a deeply dishonest 7-page letter opposing the confirmation of Justice Stras. The statement of these left-wing groups — Alliance for Justice, Courage Campaign, Every Voice, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Main Street Alliance, NAACP, NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, NARAL Pro-Choice America, National Association of Social Workers, National Council of Jewish Women, National Education Association, People For the American Way, Service Employees International Union and Voting Rights Forward — lacks any individual signatory.” Whether it’s Sen. Franken or Sen. Klobuchar or other Democrats, they’re too sensitive to these special interests’ wish lists to pay attention to doing what’s best for their constituents. The last time Democrats did what their constituents wanted is years ago.

I remember writing something about PFAW, aka the People for the American Way, years ago. PFAW was instrumental in borking Judge Robert Bork. They were also instrumental in the “high tech lynching” that Justice Clarence Thomas spoke of. This exchange is still what PFAW is remembered for:

One of the things that Scott wrote about is the Twin Cities media. Saying that he’s disappointed with their performance is understatement. Here’s a portion of what Scott wrote:

Earlier this week I quoted Minnesota Senator Al Franken on his obstruction of the Senate consideration of the nomination of Justice David Stras to the Eighth Circuit: “I think we’re going to have a decision very soon.” That is a somewhat cryptic statement. What is he waiting for? If we had a free press operating in Minnesota, the obvious follow-up question would have been asked. Coverage of the blocking of the Stras nomination by Senators Franken and Klobuchar would be deep and continuing. As it is, nada.

Thanks to blogs like Powerline and commentaries like Harold Hamilton’s weekly commentaries, Minnesota conservatives are finding out what’s happening. They’re finding out what the Twin Cities media refuses to tell them.

It isn’t a stretch to think that the Twin Cities media won’t drive the coverage much longer. That’s bad news for dishonest politicians like Sen. Franken and Sen. Klobuchar. They do best when their activities are kept in the shadows.

BTW, another name for identity politics is special interest politics. If Democrats continue catering to the special interests, they’ll continue losing, even in Minnesota, which used to be a blue state not that long ago.

When I read this story, I was stunned. According to the story, the “Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) awarded Minnesota Halal Meat & Grocery, 205 East St. Germain Street, $15,308.72 through the Good Food Access Program (GFAP). The store’s owner, Badal Aden Ali, says the store plans to install a dairy cooler, walk-in freezer, produce display case, and shelving. Ali says the grant funds will help address the needs of many of St. Cloud’s refugees and immigrants.”

Later in the article, we’re told that a “total of $150,000 in grant funds has been awarded to projects to purchase equipment and make physical improvements, increasing access to affordable, nutritious, and culturally appropriate foods in underserved and low- and moderate-income communities.”

What I’d like to know is how many similar programs exist within the Human Services and Minnesota Department of Agriculture budgets? How much taxpayer money gets spent each biennium to buy votes? This “store” is less than a mile away from my house. It’s a little hell-hole. It’s been that way since I was in grade school. (I started high school in 1970.)

Before anyone accuses me of being biased against refugees, my position is that I’m opposed to each of these grants.

I’m told that the theory behind these grants exist because the businesses can’t afford the loan to buy the equipment they’ll purchase with this grant money. If these businesses are on that shaky of ground, they should be allowed to fail.

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Kim Crockett’s post about her recent trip to our nation’s capitol focused on the work that the Center for the American Experiment is doing to thwart the Met Council’s Thrive 20240 blueprint.

In her post, Ms. Crockett wrote that “DFL Governor Mark Dayton’s plan, like many ‘blue state’ governors, uses ‘transit oriented development’ or TOD, to pull money out of the suburbs and greater Minnesota to fund and re-enforce a city centric power model. That model shifts how and where people live, and how they get around, to change the political landscape in favor of left-wing control of local and state government. If ‘Thrive’ succeeds, we will effectively lose self-governance at the local, and even state, level in favor of unelected bureaucrats.”

First, the Met Council’s transportation blueprint is outdated. Next, it isn’t based on listening to the communities and residents it’s supposed to represent. Third, the Met Council’s transportation blueprint ignores the fact that the American people don’t want to get herded like cattle into a one-size-fits all transportation blueprint.

With more people being able to work from home and with more people buying their things from Amazon, E-Bay, Craigslist and other online outlets, the need for transit is waning, not waxing. While Al Gore hates urban sprawl, the American people apparently have voted with their mortgages in favor of spreading out.

Then there’s this:

These TOD plans rely on crony capitalism to thwart citizen opposition to these billion-dollar boondoggles. There are construction and engineering firms and armies of lawyers and consultants, lined up to take their cut of the $2 billion for SWLRT. And that is just the start: then comes Bottineau LRT and others. They press their case with help from the business chambers and K-Street lobbyist here and in D.C.

Here in St. Cloud, we’re fighting against extending the Northstar rail project from Big Lake to St. Cloud. While extending Northstar isn’t as high-profile of a project as building SWLRT is, it’s still built on the same central planning crony capitalist principles.

Another thing that SWLRT and Northstar have in common is that they’re massive wastes of the taxpayers’ money. After construction, they’ll still need massive operating subsidies. Think about that. Northstar isn’t making money. It never will. Extending it from Big Lake to St. Cloud just adds to the money the special interests will need to take from taxpayers. SWLRT is no different. Before explaining that statement, I’d suggest that you watch this video:

As you watch the video, count how many different pieces of infrastructure have to be built before SWLRT is operational. Then think of how many people will use SWLRT vs. how many will continue to use the highways and city streets. (You can make the same comparison with Northstar.) SWLRT and Northstar aren’t solutions to Minnesota’s transportation problems. They’re impediments to the solutions.

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In this post, I asked several questions, including why do Democrats think that unaccountable bureaucrats with a constituency of one person (the governor) are best-suited to do region-wide infrastructure planning?

People that don’t have to worry about accountability to citizens inevitably get corrupted or stop listening to the people or both.

Something that Katherine Kersten wrote in this article should raise red flags. She wrote “The council’s vision to transform how the people of the Twin Cities region live and get around has two prongs. First, the Thrive plan will promote compact, high-density housing and “transit-oriented development” (TOD). TOD seeks to ‘pivot’ from an “auto-friendly” to a ‘transit-friendly’ transportation system by discouraging driving and pushing people to walk, bike or take public transit to work and leisure activities. Both Thrive’s housing and transportation policy plans exhibit a striking hostility to travel by car, and to the freedom and mobility that ownership of a personal vehicle brings.”

Here’s a question for LFR readers: should any government agency have the authority to push its citizens towards “transit-friendly” transportation systems? Here’s another question that dovetails off the first question: should an unelected government panel be allowed to “exhibit a striking hostility to travel by car”? Shouldn’t those decisions be made by the citizens themselves?

If you think that unaccountable bureaucrats that don’t have to listen to the people make better decisions than elected officials that have to answer to the people, I’d love seeing the proof for that. Honestly, I don’t think it exists.

Later in the article, Ms. Kersten wrote this:

The plan will lavish funds (at least $2.7 billion) on fixed-rail transit while virtually ignoring funding for expanding roads, which are vital to regional prosperity and on which 99 percent of area trips rely in some way. Despite the council’s drive for densification — which will jam more cars into a smaller space — the Thrive plan declares that “expanding the roadway system is not a sustainable way to address congestion, climate change, equity and livability.”

It’s time for the Met Council to disappear or, at minimum, to have their authority reduced. It’s obvious that they’re an organization with an ideological agenda. It’s obvious that they aren’t that worried about what the citizens of the Twin Cities want.

The transportation plan greatly favors the urban core over suburbs and exurbs and uses limited transportation funds as a bludgeon to promote its social agenda of dispersing poverty. In response, county boards of the five “ring” counties — Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Scott and Washington — have unanimously denounced the council’s plan.

And around and around we go. The Met Council doesn’t care what Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Scott and Washington counties want. They’re shaped almost exclusively around the belief that fixed rail transit is the way to go. It won’t take long for the people to reject that foolishness.

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