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The Bible says that a house divided cannot stand. I’ve never known that to be wrong, which means the DFL is heading for a collapse. The DFL, or more specifically Tina Smith, has declared war on Tom Bakk and the state of Minnesota. Whenever there’s a press conference, Tina’s right there, acting as Dayton’s keeper. Here’s proof of the Metro DFL’s turning on Sen. Bakk:

Tina Smith clearly controls the Metro DFL. It isn’t surprising, then, that the Metro DFL has put its stake in the ground over half-day universal pre-K even though studies show it isn’t great policy. Customized pre-K plans are cheaper and they produce better results. Look at all of the requirements the Smith-Dayton-DFL plan imposes on program operators:

  1. the elimination of the school readiness program;
  2. requiring that 4-year-olds be in school longer than other students;
  3. limited facility resources;
  4. mandatory class size and staff-to-student ratios;
  5. parent participation requirements;
  6. requiring that early childhood teachers be paid comparable to K-12 teachers;
  7. coordinated professional development with community-based early learning providers;
  8. requiring school districts to recruit, contract and monitor early childhood programs for fiscal and program quality.

That reads like a union contract, not education legislation. How much money would be saved if “early childhood teachers” weren’t “paid comparable to K-12 teachers”? Why does the Smith-Dayton-Metro DFL legislation mandate “class size and staff-to-student ratios”?

What’s happening here is that Education Minnesota is pushing for a mandatory program that a) all parents have to use, b) requires teachers to be paid union scale wages and c) requires new schools to be built. That isn’t a program built for “the kids.” It’s a program that’s “for Education Minnesota.”

If I had $10 for each tweet I’ve seen this weekend that talks about this program being for the children, I’d be wealthy. Tina Smith, Paul Thissen and most Metro DFLers are machine politicians. Their agenda is focused on satisfying their special interest allies. They aren’t focused on solutions. They’re about doing whatever they need to do to gain and maintain power.

When Sen. Bakk pulled his stunt about Gov. Dayton’s pay raise for department commissioners, he started a civil war within the DFL. Tina Smith and the Metro DFL haven’t forgiven him for that. Gov. Dayton certainly hasn’t. He’d rather bury the hatchet and leave the handle sticking out than forgive Bakk.

During his first term, speculation spread throughout the Capitol that Dayton’s chief of staff ran things, not Gov. Dayton. Tina Smith was Gov. Dayton’s chief of staff.

Smith worked in marketing for General Mills, ran her own marketing firm, and served as a Vice President of Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota.[3] She served as Chief of Staff for Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, and as senior advisor and Transition co-chair for Dayton’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign. Dayton appointed Smith as chief of staff when he took office in 2011.

When Dayton’s running mate from 2010, Lt. Gov. Yvonne Prettner Solon, announced she would not seek re-election, Dayton passed over better-known political officeholders, citing Smith’s work on shepherding the new Minnesota Vikings Stadium through the legislature, as well as her work on supporting the Destination Medical Center Project with the Mayo Clinic and the City of Rochester, MN.

Smith and Thissen were the people who talked Gov. Dayton out of accepting a deal that would’ve prevented the state government shutdown. Sixteen days later, Gov. Dayton signed the budget that Tina Smith and Rep. Thissen told him not to sign in June.

If there’s another shutdown, it’ll be because Smith and Thissen will have gotten to Gov. Dayton and given him terrible advice…again. In 2011, the Republican negotiators were different (Amy Koch and Kurt Zellers) but the DFL negotiators were the same (Gov. Dayton, Tina Smith, Sen. Bakk and Rep. Thissen). This time, Sen. Bakk negotiated a bipartisan deal with Speaker Kurt Daudt. Gov. Dayton, Lt. Gov. Smith and Rep. Thissen are still pushing policies that appear to be driving us into another shutdown.

That isn’t surprising. It’s just disappointing.

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Earlier tonight, I wrote this post that said a budget deal had been reached. This picture of Sen. Bakk and Speaker Daudt seemed to confirm that a deal had been reached:

Since then, though, Gov. Dayton has tried sabotaging the deal. Here’s the first tweet I saw announcing his opposition to the deal hammered out at his mansion:


Thankfully, some people are relatively sane:


Others are trying to pay off the special interests:

In an exclusive interview with the Pioneer Press Friday night, Gov. Mark Dayton said lawmakers reached their budget deal without checking with him and stood by his demand that they give early childhood through high school funding at least $550 million more over the next two years.

“If I’m not able to agree to anything that’s in there, including the E-12, I do not take responsibility any more than either of them for the fact that we couldn’t reach an agreement,” Dayton said as he closed out a long day of negotiations at the governor’s residence.

Now that’s a shocker. Gov. Dayton saying he isn’t taking “responsibility” for something. Minnesota, this is why Gov. Dayton was given the title of being the worst senator in the United States Senate. The House and Senate rejected Gov. Dayton’s universal pre-K proposal. Gov. Dayton’s response to the bipartisan rejection was to insist on an additional $550,000,000 for the K-12 formula:

The governor said he had few objections to the budget plan as lawmakers laid it out other than its level of education spending. “I won’t accept anything less than $550 (million),” for education, he said. “If they agree to that….I’m not aware of anything else that could stand in the way of the overall agreement.”

That means Gov. Dayton is willing to shut down the government because the legislature won’t increase K-12 funding that Gov. Dayton first proposed tonight. What type of lunatic would attempt to pull a stunt like that at the eleventh hour?

If there’s a shutdown, it’s because Gov. Dayton engineered it at the eleventh hour. That isn’t statesmanship.

That’s acting like a spoiled brat.

UPDATE: Speaker Daudt and Sen. Bakk agreed to spending targets. Follow this link to find out more about the agreement.

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To: Kurt Daudt, David Hann
From: Gary Gross
Subject: Transportation negotiations

Considering the fact that rank-and-file Minnesotans have stated emphatically that they won’t cheerfully accept another tax increase, GOP leadership in the Minnesota legislature shouldn’t attempt to strike a deal with Gov. Dayton and DFL leadership that includes a gas tax increase. Period. Tax increases are totally off the table. If Gov. Dayton wants to throw another hissy fit, that’s fine. The GOP should record Gov. Dayton’s hissy fit and upload it to YouTube.

There are some things Speaker Daudt and Sen. Hann should forever keep in mind during these negotiations. Here are the things that they shouldn’t forget, in order of importance:

  1. The last time the DFL pushed a gas tax increase, they promised it would solve our underfunding of roads and bridges for the next 20 years. That was 2008. It’s 2015 and they’re back, this time insisting that a significantly bigger tax increase is needed. Don’t double down on the DFL’s failure.
  2. The GOP plan is popular. Insist that the DFL adopt the GOP plan or face a major advertising campaign from now through Election Day. Tell them that every vulnerable DFL legislator in the House and Senate will be targeted with advertising that tells their constituents that they voted for a gas tax increase.
  3. You’re building trust with Republican activists and independents by being straight shooters. Don’t throw that away by agreeing to a transportation compromise that includes a gas tax increase. Accepting a tax increase will be seen as a betrayal. That will lead to Republicans losing the House and the DFL holding the Senate in 2016. (Remember the disaster the last time the DFL controlled the House and Senate and held the governorship?)
  4. Keep pressure on the DFL by addressing the press anytime they’re available. Remind them that the DFL’s last transportation bill was a failure. Remind them, too, that 75% of Minnesotans agreed with the GOP transportation plan and that 51% of Minnesotans rejected the DFL’s plan.

It’s important to constantly switch the conversation away from transportation. Constantly drag the conversation back to fixing Minnesota’s potholed roads and highways. Outside the Twin Cities, it’s difficult to find a dozen transit advocates. Outside the Twin Cities, it’s impossible to find a person who’s happy with Minnesota’s potholed roads.

Play to those facts. Portray the DFL as who they are — the political party who listen to the special interests and the lobbyists while reminding them that a) Republicans listened to their constituents before the session started and b) Republicans are still listening to their constituents by refusing to raise gas taxes.

This ad from Move MN is typical DFL gimmickry:

Here’s the transcript:

We hear a lot about fiscal responsibility but when it comes to Minnesota’s transportation, some legislators in St. Paul are avoiding it. They’ve proposed a plan to fix Minnesota’s roads and bridges and promise it will not cost you one red cent. It seems to good to be true and it is. The Minnesota House is relying on budget gimmicks that won’t guarantee that our highways get fixed. Get the facts at MoveMN.org. Let’s fix transportation now and let’s do it right. Paid for by Move MN.

That’s slick advertising. It opens with talk about fixing “Minnesota’s transportation.” Then it shifts to fixing “Minnesota’s roads and bridges.” It closes with fixing transportation now and doing it right.

The House Transportation Bill focuses on fixing Minnesota’s roads and bridges. Move MN’s goal is to raise taxes to pay for transit projects. These aren’t the same goals. Republicans have correctly identified Minnesotans’ priority as wanting to fix Minnesota’s bridges and filling in Minnesota’s potholes.

Talk to people in Alexandria or Albert Lea, Little Falls or Litchfield, Brainerd or Bemidji. Transit isn’t a priority with them. They want their roads resurfaced. They don’t give a rip about the SWLRT.

Move MN is the Ben Dogra of the transportation world. Move MN knows there isn’t a groundswell of support for light rail projects just like Dogra knew there wasn’t much interest in trading for Adrian Peterson so they tried to create the impression that there was interest.

That’s failed. Apathy for light rail killed the chances for a tax increase. It’s time Move MN admitted defeat.

I’ve written two posts on Brian McDaniel’s statements on the transportation bill. (This is the link to my post about McDaniel’s appearance on Almanac. This is the link for my post about McDaniel’s appearance on At Issue.) In those posts, I expressed my bewilderment with McDaniel’s statements pushing for a compromise on the DFL’s gas tax proposal.

This information from Minnesota’s Campaign Finance Disclosure Board dropped the pieces of this transportation puzzle into place:

According to this report, Margaret Donahoe is the “executive director” of the Minnesota Transportation Alliance. That report didn’t reveal this information:

McDaniel didn’t state that he’s a paid lobbyist for the organization pushing the DFL’s gas tax. He didn’t disclose this conflict of interest when he appeared on Almanac. McDaniel didn’t disclose this important information when he appeared on At Issue.

It’s disgusting that McDaniel didn’t disclose this information. It’s one thing to speak in favor of legislation as a private citizen. It’s another to speak in favor of legislation like you’re a private citizen when you’re actually a paid lobbyist.

It’s standard procedure to disclose that you’re a paid lobbyist for an organization that’s pushing a policy that you’re discussing. To do otherwise is dishonest and corrupt. When others have been caught in that situation before, they’ve started their first sentence by saying “In the interest of full disclosure.” Then the viewers understand that the lobbyist has a dog in that particular hunt.

At this point, Republicans should tell Mr. McDaniel that they won’t listen to his pitch anymore because he isn’t transparent in his dealings with legislators. More importantly, Republicans should reject all calls for a gas tax increase because it’s a failed policy. The DFL tried that approach in 2008. It failed miserably. Because it failed miserably in 2008, the DFL is back asking for a bigger gas tax increase this year.

Move MN, the Minnesota Transportation Alliance, the DFL and Gov. Dayton must be desperate if they’re pushing the gas tax without telling us that they’re sending out paid lobbyists to act like regular citizens speaking out on this issue.

Finally, Republicans should stand firmly against the gas tax increase. They’re on the winning side of this issue.

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With Democrats and the Washington Post criticizing him for not bringing Loretta Lynch up for a confirmation vote, Mitch McConnell is still playing hardball:

The hardball tactics, coming in McConnell’s first 100 days as majority leader, pose some risks for a GOP majority determined to show it can govern. Democrats can win back the Senate in 2016 by winning four or five seats, depending on the outcome of the presidential race.

McConnell is facing rising pressure to allow a vote on Lynch, who Democrats this week noted has waited 160 days since her nomination for a confirmation vote.

Supporters launched a hunger strike this week, and The Washington Post editorial board on Thursday slammed the GOP leader for the “shabby treatment” of Lynch, who would be the first black woman to serve as attorney general. The Post wrote there is “no principled reason to link Ms. Lynch’s nomination to the passage of the trafficking bill,” and that she should get “immediate floor consideration.”

However, McConnell’s strategy also has benefits for the GOP leader and his conference, which has unified around him.

Republicans are irked that Democrats blocked the trafficking bill over language that would prevent money for a victims fund set up by the bill to be used for abortions, even after some Democrats voted for the bill in committee. Democrats later said they did not realize the abortion language had been included in the legislation.

The Washington Post Editorial Board said that there is “no principled reason” for denying a vote on Lynch. They’re wrong.

Actions have consequences. Democrats unanimously voted for the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act in committee. Then the Democrats’ pro-abortion special interest groups descended on the Judiciary Committee Democrats like locusts descended on Egypt in the time of Moses. Immediately, Democrats started lying, saying that they didn’t know the 68-page bill contained Hyde Amendment language. That’s BS.

If Democrats want to continue pandering to Planned Parenthood, NOW and other abortion extremists, there’s a price to be paid. Breaking promises has consequences. Democrats broke their promise on the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act. Until they stop pandering to these extremists, Mitch McConnell should let them know that lying isn’t acceptable.

There’s a simple solution to this. Democrats will get what they want the minute Republicans get what they want. If Democrats insist on getting everything, they’ll get nothing.

Finally, it’s disgusting that these Democrats are these abortion extremists’ puppets.

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The DFL is opposed to not raising every Minnesotan’s taxes. The Dayton-DFL transportation plan would impose a tax increase on everyone who owns a vehicle. It would also impose a tax increase on everyone in the 7-county metro area via a sales tax increase. The 7-county sales tax increase is collected from anyone buying things in Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott and Washington counties. The sales tax revenue collected, however, mainly gets funneled into transit projects in Hennepin and Ramsey counties.

The Move MN plan isn’t focused. It wants to raise taxes on everyone to pay for this list of items:

Any plan that prioritizes everything doesn’t prioritize anything.

Minnesotans are imploring politicians to fix their roads and fill their potholes. The Republican plan focuses their attention on that. In fact, the Republican plan essentially told transit lobbyists that they’re on their own. That’s a bit of an oversimplification but it isn’t an outrageous oversimplification.

If I polled Minnesotans what they wanted their money spent on this session, bike trails and pedestrian infrastructure wouldn’t break the top 25 items. It just isn’t a priority. It wouldn’t be surprising if that same imaginary poll found that transit projects in the 7-county metro area would be a priority for a plurality of voters in Hennepin and Ramsey counties.

Predictably, the DFL is outraged by the Republicans’ plan. It’s predictable because Republicans listened to Minnesotans’ priorities while the DFL listened to transportation lobbyists. The DFL opposes redirecting the sales taxes away from the general fund.

The question Minnesotans should ask DFL legislators is straightforward. Why should taxes collected on vehicles and auto parts not be part of the solution for fixing Minnesota’s roads and bridges? Another question that would be appropriate to ask is why those sales taxes are being directed at anything from funding corrupt organizations like Community Action of Minneapolis to funding MnSCU’s Central Office to paying for outrageous pay raises for Gov. Dayton’s commissioners.

Follow this link for more on this subject.

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Thursday night, Gov. Dayton delivered his annual State of the State Address. True to the DFL’s creed, there’s something in there for each of the DFL’s special interest groups. True to the DFL’s creed, there’s a ton of spin in Gov. Dayton’s speech. Here’s a perfect example of that spin:

At the other end of the education continuum, higher education: the University of Minnesota, the MnSCU colleges, and universities, and state financial aid for students are equally deserving of increased support. In 2013, the legislature approved a $249 million increase in higher education funding for the current biennium. That increase, however, only replaced the $246 million reduction enacted in 2011.

In real, inflation-adjusted dollars, state support for higher education in FY 2012 dropped to its lowest level in over thirty years. No wonder tuitions have been forced higher and higher in both systems, causing Minnesota students to graduate with the fifth highest average debt loads in the country.

That’s just dishonest. One of the reasons why tuitions “have been forced higher” is because MnSCU presidents and the MnSCU Central Office have spent outrageously on consultants and administrators. Couple that with the reckless fiscal mismanagement in years past, mostly in the name of pursuing lofty-sounding visions or outright legacy-building and it isn’t surprising why tuitions have skyrocketed.

Pitting students and parents’ budgets against university presidents’ and MnSCU administrators’ wish lists isn’t the best way to build a better Minnesota, though it’s the fastest way to pay off one of the DFL’s strongest special interest allies.

To show how misguided Gov. Dayton’s policies are and how blindly the DFL will follow Education Minnesota’s instructions, check out how Gov. Dayton, the DFL and Education Minnesota are cheating Jazmyne McGill:

Despite meeting all of the requirements for a diploma, I had to take a class in college that covered material I had already passed in high school. Worse, this class wouldn’t earn me any credit toward a degree, although I had to pay full tuition for it.

Coming from a low-income family, I did not have the extra money to take a class that wouldn’t count toward my degree. Minnesota’s college graduates already carry one of the nation’s highest student debt loads and repay their loans at an above average rate. Yet remedial classes saddle students with additional debt, don’t earn them degrees, and deter them from completed their degrees – at a time when an increasing number of Minnesota jobs require post-secondary education.

Jazmyne paid hundreds of additional dollars for a class Education Minnesota told her she’d satisfactorily passed. That’s the definition of educational theft.

Rather than verifying whether the K-12 or higher ed money is producing excellent educational outcomes, the DFL just keeps returning for more money for a system that’s failing Minnesota’s youth. Cheating Minnesota’s students isn’t acceptable — except if it’s Education Minnesota cheating students while the DFL are running things. Then it’s apparently fine.

Finally, check out the transcript. It’s traditional Dayton in that it’s filled with terrible punctuation and grammar. Thank God he hired the best speechwriters, then gave them big raises. Spending lots of money, then not paying attention to whether it’s being spent wisely isn’t proof that government is treating its taxpayers wisely. It’s proof that the DFL cares more about their big government allies than they care about the taxpayers.

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In a stunning development, the DFL has promised it’ll never raise the gas tax again to fix Minnesota’s roads and bridges. Let the parsing begin. Actually, the DFL didn’t make that promise this session. That’s what they promised in 2007-08. Back then, Sen. Steve Murphy, then-chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, promised that passing a nickel-per-gallon gas tax increase would be the only tax increase they’d need to fix “Minnesota’s crumbling roads and bridges” for the next 25 years.

Just 7 years later, Gov. Dayton is back, insisting that “Minnesota’s crumbling roads and bridges” require a 6.5% wholesale gas tax increase. The DFL and Move MN support Gov. Dayton’s plan. This time, they aren’t promising this will be the last tax increase they’ll ask for to fix Minnesota’s roads and bridges. Instead, this is what the DFL is saying to rationalize their latest tax increase:

“I don’t relish having to raise the revenues needed to start fixing 25 years of deterioration and deficiencies in Minnesota’s transportation system,” Dayton said.

It’s interesting that Gov. Dayton totally ignored the $6.6 billion tax increase the DFL imposed on Minnesotans in 2008 in the name of fixing Minnesota’s roads and bridges. It isn’t surprising but it’s definitely interesting.

What’s really happening is that the DFL is settling an old promise with their transportation special interest lobbyists. Their transit activists expected to get paid when Mark Dayton was governor and the DFL had majorities in the House and Senate. It’s likely that the DFL’s transit activists were told that an income tax increase and extending the sales tax to farm equipment repairs and warehousing services were the DFL’s highest priorities.

It’s likely that they were told they’d be first up on the tax increase list in this session. Clearly, they didn’t expect the House Republican majority to tell the transit activists to get their money from the local communities where the LRT corridors run through.

That’s the worst possible news for transit activists because it’s tougher for city councilmembers to justify raising taxes for transit projects.

Republicans shouldn’t consider raising the gas tax this year. First, it’s a proven failure. The DFL will be back in just a few years for another tax increase because this tax increase, they’ll say, wasn’t enough. (It never is.) The difference the next time they ask for a tax increase, they’ll be able to say that Republicans better vote for this one because they voted for the last one.

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Juan Williams’ pro-Harry Reid blinders are on full display in Williams’ latest column:

Republicans campaigned last fall voicing a constant refrain that voters should free them from Reid’s control of the Senate. McConnell promised that Republicans would prove they could govern once Reid’s hold had been broken. As the cynics say, “How did that work out for you?”

Frankly, I’ll take Mitch McConnell’s attempting to get things done over Reid’s one-man legislative branch veto anytime and it isn’t close. Harry Reid was and is a tyrant who should be in prison. He shouldn’t be praised.

Reid is now in the minority. He has announced he will not run again. But the GOP’s inability to get anything done in the Senate for three months and counting is leading to new appreciation for the much-maligned Reid. Compare Reid’s record to the GOP’s ongoing failure to pass legislation to stop sex trafficking, to approve highway trust-fund spending or to confirm an attorney general.

There’s no place in America’s heartland where people have a new-found appreciation of Harry Reid. Since when do celebrate a person who essentially stopped the deliberative process? Why shouldn’t such a tyrant be vilified for essentially preventing red state senators from representing their constituents?

There’s nothing virtuous about that type of tyranny.

As for not passing the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, place that totally at the feet of the Democrats. I wrote this article to highlight the fact that the bill passed the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously and was on its way to winning full approval in the Senate when Democrat-aligned special interest groups told the Democrats that having the Hyde Amendment, a provision that was in the bill from the start, in the bill was a deal-breaker. Dutifully like all puppets do, the Democrats who both co-sponsored the bill, and who voted for it in committee, voted to filibuster the bill.

There’s nothing virtuous about a political party that’s so wedded to its special interest supporters that it’ll turn its backs on victims of sex trafficking in exchange for ideological purity and additional campaign contributions.

Selling one’s soul for political expediency has a name but that name isn’t virtue.

“The corrosion of the Senate took place over many years,” McConnell said in an e-mail to Jennifer Steinhauer of the Times. “So restoring the institution to allow members of both parties and their constituents to have a voice in the legislative process will take longer than three months. But we’re making progress.”

And who is responsible for that “corrosion”? McConnell’s “progress” is slowed by the same political divisions among Republicans that gummed up the works when Democrats had the majority. Maybe Republicans will now acknowledge that Reid was never the problem. The real issue all along has been the GOP’s antipathy to the president.

Let’s be blunt. Harry Reid worked to protect President Obama and Democratic senators. Sen. Reid prevented legislation that got overwhelming support in the House from even getting debated in the Senate. Sen. Reid wasn’t the Senate Majority Leader from 2007-2014. He was the self-appointed emperor of the Senate.

Sen. Reid didn’t let Republicans represent their constituents. I won’t appreciate a tyrant who won’t let elected officials represent their constituents. That’s who Juan Williams thinks we should find a new-found appreciation for.

The mission statement of contemporary Republican Senate politics was issued by McConnell himself in 2010. “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president,” he proclaimed. In response, Reid limited votes on amendments to rein in the political circus and focus attention on legislation that could win passage. “All I want to do is legislate,” a frustrated Reid told me and a small group of columnists last summer.

Harry Reid lied and Juan Williams was gullible enough to believe him. Listen to this sentence:

In response, Reid limited votes on amendments to rein in the political circus and focus attention on legislation that could win passage.

TRANSLATION: Reid shut down debate because he didn’t want debate on issues that the American people disagreed with Democrats on. This wasn’t about reining in “the political circus.” That’s pure spin. This has everything to do with a) preventing Republican from presenting their ideas and b) protecting hard-hearted Democrats who didn’t want to listen to the American people.

Sen. Reid and President Obama are only part of the Senate’s problem. The Democrats’ special interests are another part of the problem as is Sen. Schumer, Dick Durbin and their shrinking band of puppets. It’s long past time we exposed the real cancer in the Senate. We have a republic, not an autocracy.

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