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To hear DFL State Party Chair Ken Martin tell it, Gov. Dayton was the victim of dishonest Republican legislative leadership. Appearing on TPTAlmanac, Martin said that “Kurt Daudt put a poison pill” that would have “defunded the Department of Revenue” if he didn’t sign the GOP Tax Relief Bill. Later, Martin insisted that Speaker Daudt and Senate Majority Leader Gazelka lied to the Supreme Court with their representation of cash reserves. (Of course, Martin has to say that because Gov. Dayton said it first.)

Chairman Martin pretended that Speaker Daudt and Senate Majority Leader Gazelka pointed a gun at Gov. Dayton’s head and forced him to call the special session even though he didn’t like the GOP Tax Relief Bill. That’s utter foolishness. Only the governor can call a special session. It’s been Gov. Dayton’s tradition that he hasn’t called a special session until all of the bills were worked out and agreed upon. Why shouldn’t we think that he’d initially agreed to the Tax Bill, then got discreet criticism from the hard-line activist left? After all, there were a bunch of them running for governor who weren’t going to vote for the tax bill.

Here’s the question that Chairman Martin didn’t want to answer: if Gov. Dayton didn’t like the GOP Tax Relief Bill, why did he call a special session without negotiating a bill more to his liking? Before the session starts, Gov. Dayton had leverage. Why didn’t he use it? There’s other questions worth asking, too. First, did Gov. Dayton initially agree to the bill, then ‘change’ his mind when the hardliners got to him? Next, would the Department of Revenue provision be a poison pill if he planned on signing the GOP Tax Relief Bill as previously agreed to?

The other thing that hasn’t been questioned is why Gov. Dayton has consistently opposed tax relief. Feeding government has been his top priority. Opposing tax relief has been his next highest priority, with raising taxes a close third.

It isn’t like wages have increased dramatically during his administration. It isn’t like he’s fought for projects that would’ve benefitted blue collar workers. The truth is that Gov. Dayton has fought against those projects each time he’s had the opportunity. He sat like an innocent bystander while the Sandpiper Pipeline project got killed. Gov. Dayton hasn’t lifted a finger to make PolyMet a reality. In fact, his legacy on mining is that he’s the most anti-mining governor in recent Minnesota history. Finally, Gov. Dayton has acted like an innocent bystander while his anti-commerce Commerce Department testified against an important pipeline infrastructure project.

Chairman Martin’s job would be so much easier if he didn’t have to defend Gov. Dayton’s indefensible decisions. Still, I don’t feel sorry for him. He knew the job going in.

Apparently, the MPCA, combined with the DFL, want to shut the Iron Range down permanently. According to the article, the “Minnesota Pollution Control Agency in August released a sulfate water standard to protect wild rice. This standard could be as low as 1mglL. In comparison, drinking water should be less than 250mglL. So what does this mean? The Iron Range businesses and city wastewater treatment plants will have to spend over $1 billion dollars to get into compliance.”

John Arbogast with the United Steelworkers union at Minntac, the area’s largest mine, said “This isn’t the Twin Cities. This is all we have, and they’re good-paying jobs, and these are hard-working people. They love living here, they love the fishing, the hunting, everything that comes with living on the Iron Range.” Arbogast questioned the MPCA “at a RAMS/Iron Ore Alliance meeting with the MPCA a few months ago,” asking “If the businesses and communities have to spend a billion dollars to meet this new standard, will the wild rice grow better?’ The answer from the MPCA was ‘we don’t know.'”

Talk about stupidity. The MPCA just admitted that they’re requiring $1,000,000,000 (that’s one-billion dollars) worth of infrastructure improvements in small town Minnesota, then admitting that they don’t know if this investment will improve water quality or help rice grow better.

Unfortunately, that isn’t the worst part. Doug Ellis runs a a sporting goods store in Virginia. (Full disclosure: I’ve bought things from Doug’s store. It’s a great sporting goods store with a great atmosphere. But I digress.) According to this article, Ellis is quoted as saying “My business is built on mining money. It’s what drives all these towns. So really what happens is, when the mines catch a cold, we all catch pneumonia.”

Let’s summarize briefly. The MPCA, which is part of a DFL administration, “released a sulfate water standard to protect wild rice” that they aren’t sure will protect wild rice. What’s known is that this rule will hurt mining, possibly killing several mines. What’s known, too, is that many of these cities are already suffering. What’s known, too, is that the DFL wants to inflict a major tax increase on these hard-working people at a time when they can’t afford the basics.

That’s immoral. How can the DFL and the MPCA justify this new rule and the major tax increase that’s accompanying the rule with no guarantee that it will have any positive effects? That’s like putting a gun to the Iron Range’s head and telling them that they have to commit economic suicide just so some environmental activists can feel good about requiring a new anti-mining rule.

Let’s be clear about something. The DFL has repeatedly proven that they hate miners and the supporting businesses on the Range. It’s time to defeat the DFL in 2018 and elect a pro-Iron Range GOP governor so we can restore the prosperity that the Range knew a generation ago. If Republicans don’t win this gubernatorial election, the DFL will destroy what’s left of the Iron Range.

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For years, the DFL has put together a regulatory scheme that hinders industry in the name of environmental safety. Each year, it’s more apparent that environmentalists control these regulatory agencies. This article illustrates the point.

According to the article, “Enbridge Energy Limited Partnership has applied for a certificate of need and a route permit from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to construct and operate the proposed Line 3 pipeline replacement project. At the direction of the Public Utilities Commission, the Minnesota Commerce Department is preparing an environmental impact statement (EIS) in cooperation with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. ‘The proposed Line 3 project presents significant issues,’ state Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman said in a news release. ‘Additional time allows the department to prepare a thorough draft environmental impact statement that provides effective, meaningful public review and comment. The Public Utilities Commission has an important decision to make for Minnesota, and the Commerce Department is committed to providing the best information possible for them to use in the decision-making process.’ Rothman said the time will be used for consultation with tribal governments, additional information gathering, coordination with stakeholders and technical analysis and review.”

It’s important to remember that this isn’t a new pipeline. It’s replacing an existing pipeline that’s been in place for almost half a century. The PUC and Gov. Dayton’s Commerce Department know this. Consultation “with tribal governments shouldn’t take much time since this pipeline project is replacing an existing project. Simply put, Gov. Dayton’s Commerce Department is intentionally dragging their feet on this project. This PUC document is infuriating.

In the opening paragraph of the document, it says “Enbridge Energy, Limited Partnership has applied to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission for a certificate of need and a pipeline routing permit for its Line 3 Pipeline Replacement Project.” The government shouldn’t be in the business of telling the private sector what’s needed and what isn’t. Determining what’s needed is a subjective process. What’s worse is that it’s especially subject to the lobbying efforts of the environmental activists.

What the PUC, the Commerce Department and the environmental activists haven’t talked about is the fact that transporting oil by pipeline is significantly safer than transporting it by oil train or semis. Why haven’t the PUC, Gov. Dayton’s Commerce Department or the environmentalists talked about public safety? The Minnesota Environmental Partnership spent lots of time trying to convince people that the pipeline wasn’t needed. That isn’t their call to make.

Gov. Dayton and the DFL have stressed the importance of public input. What Gov. Dayton and the DFL haven’t proposed is a balance between giving people time to comment and the importance of ruling on the merits of the project. It’s fair to give people time to comment. It’s also imperative to not force companies to wait endlessly for final approval. Dragging out the permitting process is the ultimate proof that Gov. Dayton and the DFL are openly hostile towards construction unions and fossil fuels.

It isn’t like the DFL is hiding their contempt for these companies or for construction unions. It’s there for the world to see.

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Last week, Minnesota’s job creation suffered, losing 6,600 jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “6,600 Minnesotans lost their jobs in August as the state’s unemployment rate increased to 3.8 percent.”

Think of how much better those numbers would look if the Dayton administration hadn’t killed the Sandpiper Pipeline project. Then again, think how those numbers would look if Gov. Dayton’s administration would approve the permits for rebuilding Enbridge’s Line 3 Pipeline.

For years, Gov. Dayton and the DFL have bragged about how great the Dayton/DFL economy is. They went out of their way to insist that their way was superior to the economies in the red states that surrounded Minnesota. Those chickens are coming home to roost. According to the article, “Iowa’s unemployment rate dropped 0.4 percent in the last year, settling at 3.3 percent, a full half point ahead of Minnesota. Wisconsin and South Dakota have done twice as well as Iowa, dropping 0.8 percent in the last year. Their unemployment rates have settled at 3.4 percent and an astounding 2.3 percent respectively. In Wisconsin’s case, this showing, four times better than Minnesota’s, saw the Badger state overtake the Land of Ten Thousand Lakes. In August 2016, Wisconsin’s unemployment rate was higher than Minnesota’s, now it is 0.4 percent lower.”

The DFL’s cheap shots at Scott Walker and at North Dakota ring hollow now that their economic policies are working. Meanwhile, Minnesota’s economy is topping off but it’s after Gov. Dayton has missed great opportunities because he’s listened too often to the environmental activists in his party.

Check this out:

Peter Nelson of the Center for the American Experiment explains in this article:

The chart below shows Wisconsin total employment minus Minnesota total employment, which shows employment has been growing far faster in Wisconsin for over four years.  Since February 2013, Wisconsin’s employment lead over Minnesota nearly doubled, growing from 70,108 jobs to 138,383 jobs in June 2017.

When the Minnesota Department of Commerce testified that Enbridge hadn’t shown a need for replacing their Line 3 Pipeline, people scratched their heads. That project is a $7,500,000,000 infrastructure project. It’s difficult to picture a pro-commerce Commerce Department rejecting that type of project. There’s an old saying that I learned during the Watergate investigation. It’s called ‘follow the money’.

According to Mike Rothman’s official bio, “Rothman’s top priorities include consumer protection, a clean energy future, and strong financial and energy sectors for Minnesota’s economy.” In an interview with the Clean Energy Resource Team, Rothman made clear that he wasn’t a disinterested bystander in terms of the government financing clean energy projects. CERT started the interview by asking Rothman “Have the tax credits been important for getting Minnesota to where we are today with wind and solar?” Commissioner Rothman replied “From the vantage point of the Commerce Department, we believe these tax credits have really been central pillars supporting wind and solar development in our state. The ITC enabled solar manufacturers to produce at scale and dramatically cut the costs of modules and other components. It also encouraged a growing base of Minnesota solar installation companies to invest in training and certification while expanding their businesses and creating new jobs.”

In other words, without crony capitalism, wind and solar wouldn’t offer competitive prices. The question I’d ask Commissioner Rothman is whether his prioritizing clean energy had anything to do with his department’s heavy-handed testimony against Enbridge. It isn’t a stretch to think that a person that supports tax credits for wind and solar certainly might support eliminating fossil fuels, too.

This is part of the Commerce Department’s website:

Solar Industry Resources

The state of Minnesota is interested in helping Minnesota-based solar businesses expand and attracting new solar businesses to the state.

From solar manufacturers and system developers and installers to the agencies that help finance solar projects, the Minnesota Department of Commerce is here to help build a strong clean energy economy. The solar industry is booming in Minnesota, and it is positioned for continued growth. With solar policies such as the solar electricity standard and programs like the $15 million a year Made in Minnesota Solar incentive Program, Minnesota is committed to the solar industry.

Based on the Commerce Department’s pro-clean energy statements and their hostility towards fossil fuels, I think it’s entirely reasonable to think that Gov. Dayton’s Commerce Department isn’t a neutral arbiter in this fight.

In Part I of this series, I quoted Kate O’Connell, manager of the Energy Regulation and Planning Unit of the Department of Commerce, as saying “In light of the serious risks and effects on the natural and socioeconomic environments of the existing Line 3 and the limited benefit that the existing Line 3 provides to Minnesota refineries, it is reasonable to conclude that Minnesota would be better off if Enbridge proposed to cease operations of the existing Line 3, without any new pipeline being built,’ the agency wrote in testimony submitted to the Public Utilities Commission on Monday, Sept. 11.”

It isn’t a stretch to think that environmental activists had a special place in Gov. Dayton’s Commerce Department. The Department’s testimony to the PUC was tilted. The Commerce Department’s personnel indicate a strong pro-clean energy preference. Thanks to the Commerce Department’s anti-pipeline bias, Minnesota is missing out on a major infrastructure project.

Shouldn’t we insist that these types of infrastructure projects get a higher priority? This project would’ve created thousands of jobs. The negative economic impact this rejection will have is disgusting. Stop back Tuesday for more on that aspect of the pipeline.

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If people needed a better example of how hostile the Dayton administration is to robust economic growth, they needn’t look further than Gov. Dayton’s Commerce Department. When Gov. Dayton’s Commerce Department testified that the Enbridge Line 3 Pipeline wasn’t needed, they testified that they were anti-commerce. When the Commerce Department testified to that, the DFL quietly applauded. They knew that it essentially killed approval of that pipeline’s replacement at least through the end of Gov. Dayton’s administration.

Listen to the certainty of the Commerce Department statement. They said “‘In light of the serious risks and effects on the natural and socioeconomic environments of the existing Line 3 and the limited benefit that the existing Line 3 provides to Minnesota refineries, it is reasonable to conclude that Minnesota would be better off if Enbridge proposed to cease operations of the existing Line 3, without any new pipeline being built,’ the agency wrote in testimony submitted to the Public Utilities Commission on Monday, Sept. 11.”

In the next paragraph of the article, it states “The testimony, written by Kate O’Connell, manager of the Energy Regulation and Planning Unit of the Department of Commerce, comes ahead of evidentiary hearings on the oil pipeline replacement that will see the project debated in a trial-like setting in November. A new round of public hearings across the state will kick off at the end of the month.”

It’s time to ask a foundational question. Shouldn’t Minnesotans to expect the state government’s Commerce Department to be pro-commerce? There’s no question that the Dayton/DFL Commerce Department isn’t pro-commerce. Ms. O’Connell’s testimony settled that matter.

Here’s another foundational question Minnesotans should ask: who should have the final say on multi-billion dollar projects? Why should the Public Utilities Commission and the Commerce Department have the final say on whether projects should be approved? Further, what makes the Commerce Department and the PUC experts on things like public safety and transportation?

Those are the only things that government should be involved in. When Gov. Dayton’s Commerce Department testified that there wasn’t a need, they didn’t testify as to whether their testimony hurt public safety. It does from the standpoint of forcing more oil onto oil trains. More oil on more oil trains is already causing cities through which these railroad tracks run to come up with evacuation plans. That costs each of those cities tons of money in their annual operating budget. That, in turn, leads to higher property or sales taxes.

This is a multi-part series. This is a subject that’s too important not to examine in depth.

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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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We know that there’s two things in life that are guaranteed: death and taxes. Actually, based on this article, there’s apparently a third certainty: that DFL mayors can’t resist raising property taxes.

Preya Samsundar’s article starts by saying “Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges finally revealed her budget plan for 2018 on Tuesday including a proposal for a 5.5 percent property tax levy increase for the upcoming year. Hodges’ budget and the address she gave in presenting it covered a laundry list of progressive talking points and policy plans. The budget has a total price tag of $1.8 billion. Almost $6 million in total will be spent on efforts to use non-fossil fuel sources of energy, improve businesses’ climate effects, and increase energy efficiency in commercial and residential areas of Minneapolis. This is roughly a 60 percent increase compared with the 2014 budget the year Hodges assumed office.”

Hodges knows that she’s in a fight for re-election. That’s likely why she criticized President Trump in presenting her budget:

“Minneapolis is facing a challenge that we couldn’t have conceived of a year ago,” Mayor Hodges said. “Though we are shocked by the damage he does every day of his presidency, we have to anticipate that Donald Trump will remain in the White House through 2020. In the next three and a half years he can wreak untold damage to our country with his authoritarian tactics and his policies of oppression and suppression. Once he was elected, we knew it would be a disaster for our country, but even just six months in, it’s already far more disastrous than we anticipated.” Hodges believes that Trump is coming after “our diversity, our right to vote, our artists, our independent media, our workers” with his policies.

That criticism is just a distraction. Hodges knows that she’ll lose if voters focus on the uptick in violence during her administration. She’s been a disaster since taking over for the equally disastrous R.T. Rybak.

It isn’t that I think Mayor Hodges will lose because she raised property taxes. My point is that the DFL annually promises property tax relief, then falls far short of their promises.

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This isn’t exactly shocking but Gov. Dayton is promising that his administration won’t put together a package that would attract Amazon to Minnesota.

The article says “Gov. Mark Dayton says any attempt to use state tax dollars to convince Amazon to build a $5 billion headquarters in Minnesota would be “restrained” because of the importance of homegrown competitors Best Buy and Target. Dayton says he called the CEOs at Target and Best Buy last week to reassure them of their companies’ importance to Minnesota. The Star Tribune says the DFL governor says both companies have expressed concern about using tax dollars to lure a competitor to Minnesota. Dayton has asked the Department of Employment and Economic Development to put together a proposal for Amazon.”

In other words, Minnesota likely wasn’t in the running for attracting Amazon so the Dayton administration decided to not put an attractive offer together. Let’s be blunt about something. Yes, Minnesota has a well-trained workforce. So do lots of other states. There was a time when that set Minnesota apart. As often happens, other states studied Minnesota’s blueprint and copied it. Later, they coupled their well-trained workforce with lower taxes and more sensible regulations.

Gov. Dayton and the DFL have used that same playbook literally for decades. They haven’t figured it out that other states have put together better blueprints.

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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