Archive for the ‘Mark Dayton’ Category

After the ISIS terrorist attacks in Paris, some thoughtful people from both parties but led by Republicans, proposed pausing the importation of Syrian refugees. They suggested that because the vetting process of Syrian refugees isn’t reliable. That isn’t just Republicans’ opinion. It’s an opinion they share with James Comey, the director of the FBI. During testimony to Congress, he said that vetting Syrian refugees was all but impossible.

After that, President Obama announced that he wouldn’t pause the program, saying that not accepting these refugees was un-American. It isn’t surprising that Gov. Dayton is repeating President Obama’s line. In an interview with MPR’s Kerri Miller, Gov. Dayton said “the State Department and Department of Homeland Security have an extensive vetting process in place.”

According to Director Comey, that’s misinformation. In his testimony, Director Comey said that the databases they need to vet people either doesn’t exist or is highly unreliable. DHS and the State Department can say whatever they want but it doesn’t mean anything if the vetting infrastructure doesn’t exist or isn’t reliable.

Gov. Dayton later said “I think there should be an enhanced level of vetting and security for Syrian refugees or others that come from places which have been sources of terrorism” before saying “having been on the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security, there’s far more that’s actually undertaken.”

Has Sen. Dayton gotten briefed lately on the state of identification databases in Syria lately? If he hasn’t, how would he know that the vetting infrastructure is reliable? Is he just trusting President Obama? If that’s the case, would he trust a Republican president the same way in the same circumstances?

Finally, Gov. Dayton said “People who are fleeing terrorism in other countries, people with families with children in their arms — to tell them they can’t come into this country and have a future is just un-American.” Let’s explain this to Gov. Dayton through this picture:

I’d love to see whether Gov. Dayton would accept that taste-testing challenge.

Lots of people, including some journalists, think that Sen. Bakk is pro-mining. He might be but there’s a respectable case that can be made that he’s a tepid supporter of mining. Brian Bakst’s article says that “Bakk is a leading legislative proponent of the PolyMet copper-nickel mine.” Look at what he’s done to push for making PolyMet a reality. Better yet, let’s see what Sen. Bakk hasn’t done to make PolyMet a reality.

Let’s start by determining which side Sen. Bakk is on. Bakk said “I just want to take as long as it systematically takes in order to get those permits awarded. And I should want it expedited more than anybody else.” That’s a weasel-word quote. Let’s be clear. Sen. Bakk hasn’t lifted a finger to streamline the permitting process. Likewise, Sen. Bakk hasn’t criticized Gov. Dayton for proposing another review of PolyMet, this time by the Minnesota Department of Health. Thus far, the MPCA and the DNR have required environmental impact studies. Then special interests have requested a programmatic environmental impact statement. Now, they’re pushing for the MDH to do another EIS, supposedly to determine whether PolyMet would cause any health issues.

What’s really happening is that environmental activists are using the current regulatory system to delay the building of PolyMet. Then there’s this insane statement:

[Bakk] said any actual or perceived shortcuts “could potentially weaken the state’s position in a lawsuit.” Environmental groups, who are wary of the new kind of mining, have signaled they’ll explore litigation if permits are granted.

That strains credibility. Environmental activists have their lawsuits ready to file. This isn’t a case of them waiting to see how things go before determining whether to file a lawsuit. It’s a matter of waiting for the most opportune time to file their lawsuit. I’d be surprised if they don’t have the lawsuits written. Likewise, I’d be surprised if other like-minded organizations don’t already have their friend of the court briefs written.

Why isn’t regulatory reform a priority for the DFL? This isn’t about whether these projects will get reviewed. It’s a matter of whether they’ll get reviewed into oblivion. Reviewing PolyMet for 10 years isn’t justice. It isn’t being thorough. It’s attrition through regulation and litigation. Sen. Bakk has essentially defended an unjust status quo system.

Defending a system that favors the special interests over hard-working blue collar workers isn’t justice. It’s the epitome of injustice.

Saying that Sen. Bakk is a pro-mining advocate is questionable. His inactions say otherwise.

Tonight, I was stunned and disgusted when Sen. Bakk told the Almanac Roundtable panel what he hoped would come from the possible special session. I was especially startled when Sen. Bakk said “I lived through the 1981 downturn on the Range when waves and waves and waves of Iron Rangers moved to the northern suburbs and had to settle there when most of the mines had to shut down. We’re on the cusp of this again this time and I think that the state coming to their aid and giving them extended unemployment benefits, to give those families some time to make some decisions and maybe get a little closer to see if our federal government will act as some of this unfairly traded steel is coming into this country just to build a bridge for those families because once they run out of unemployment, they’re in a situation of probably having to relocate their families.”

There wasn’t anything in his statement that talked about rebuilding the Iron Range economy. There wasn’t anything in his statement that talked about turning the Iron Range’s economic slide around. His sole focus was on giving families more time to relocate out of his district and Sen. Tomassoni’s district.

The Republican panelists tonight were Sen. David Hann and House Majority Leader Joyce Peppin. The DFL panelists were Sen. Bakk and Rep. Thissen. When Majority Leader Peppin talked about finding a long-term solution to the Iron Range’s economic problems, House Minority Leader Thissen said that that isn’t what special sessions should be about, that that’s what regular sessions should be about.

It’s beyond ironic that Rep. Thissen, Sen. Bakk, Gov. Dayton and the DFL legislature didn’t lift a finger to provide a long-term solution for the Iron Range when there were DFL majorities in the House and Senate and a DFL governor. It’s almost as if the Iron Range was an afterthought, something to worry about only during election years.

When Majority Leader Peppin talked about Gov. Dayton ordering another environmental review, this time involving the Minnesota Department of Health, and cutting through the red tape, Sen. Bakk criticized her, saying that taking a “shortcut” would hurt them when the inevitable lawsuits came. Sen. Bakk didn’t consider the possibility of transforming Minnesota’s environmental review process so that the review is thorough but that it doesn’t last 10-15 years to complete.

This is proof that the DFL’s top priorities are appeasing the environmental activist obstructionists, growing government and appeasing the Metro DFL. They haven’t proven that they care about Iron Range families. Sen. Bakk admitted as much.

I wrote here that the poverty rate is 18% in Hibbing and 24.1% in Virginia. To have Sen. Bakk essentially give up on a once-prosperous region is beyond sad. It’s disgusting.

Tim Pugmire’s article is an attempt to make it sound like Republicans oppose a special session. Nothing is further from the truth. When Pugmire wrote “Minnesota House Republicans threw cold water on a proposed special session Thursday, saying DFL Gov. Mark Dayton’s plan to help laid-off steelworkers doesn’t go far enough,” the intention was to suggest that Republicans oppose a special session. The opposite is true. First, Speaker Daudt “did not rule out the possibility of a special session.” It’s just that Daudt thinks “an extension of unemployment benefits is only a ‘short-term band aid,'” which it is.

Speaker Daudt is right in saying “We want to make sure that the jobs on the Range are long-term and sustainable, and frankly what these folks really want isn’t extended unemployment benefits. They want their job back. So, we want to figure out how to do that.”

It’s clear that the DFL isn’t serious about fixing the Iron Range’s economic structural deficiencies. They’ve had 30 years to fix the Range economy. They’ve failed miserably. That’s indisputable. According to the latest census information for Hibbing, which was for 2009-2013, their median household income was $38,077 and their poverty rate was 18%. Think about that last statistic. Almost one in five people in Hibbing lives below the federal poverty line. The statewide poverty rate is 11.5%, which is virtually half of what it is in Hibbing.

The sad truth is that Hibbing is prosperous compared with Virginia. Virginia’s median household income for 2009-2013 was $32,850. Virginia’s poverty rate was a whopping 24.1%. Accepting a poverty rate of one in four is downright immoral.

The difference between Speaker Daudt and the GOP and Gov. Dayton and the DFL is that the DFL wants to spend money on a short-term fix without fixing the underlying problem. Republicans actually want to fix the problem. If Mr. Pugmire thinks that fixing a problem is a poison pill that the DFL won’t accept, he should say that directly.

Personally, I’d argue that Speaker Daudt and the GOP have exposed the DFL as being the party that doesn’t want to solve big problems.

When it comes to spending money without producing solutions, Sen. Bakk is an expert. He’s even got Gov. Dayton on his side in his fight to spend taxpayers’ money on his latest agenda item. Sen. Bakk thinks that it’s important to “also address Minnesota’s persistent racial inequities” during a potential special session.

Apparently, Sen. Bakk thinks it’s important to extend unemployment benefits “for miners experiencing long-term unemployment” and to “address Minnesota’s persistent racial inequities” without insisting that the Public Utilities Commission approve the building of the Sandpiper pipeline. Building the Sandpiper Pipeline project would actually employ people but that apparently isn’t a priority for Sen. Bakk.

Building Bakk’s Palace was a priority but getting PolyMet’s permits wasn’t Sen. Bakk’s priority. Has he lifted a finger to tell the Minnesota Department of Health to butt out of the PolyMet process? Of course he hasn’t and he won’t because the environmental activist wing of the DFL, which is the dominant wing of the DFL, won’t let him win that fight.

Everyone on the Range knows that the Department of Health study is just latest tactic the environmental activists have employed in their attempt to prevent the creation of good-paying Iron Range jobs. When’s the last time Sen. Bakk fought the environmental activists and won anything longlasting for the mining industry? If you guessed that dinosaurs walked the earth the last time Sen. Bakk fought the environmental activists and won anything longlasting for the mining industry, you wouldn’t be wrong.

The hard-working people of the Iron Range don’t need someone that fights for them. That just takes a temper. What they need is a political party that’ll fight and win for them. Thus far, they’ve resisted that. Hopefully, they’ll get smart and change their voting habits soon. Their families’ financial well-being is at stake.

Sen. Bakk is a typical DFL politician. First, he either creates a problem with terrible policies or he just sits idly by while things deteriorate, then comes rushing in to fix the problem that he created or that he didn’t give a shit about until it was a crisis.

What the Iron Range needs is a legislative delegation that put the Range’s prosperity at the top of their priority list. They don’t have that right now.

There was never any doubt that Gov. Dayton, (DFL-MN), would accept Syrian refugees. That hasn’t prevented state legislators from raising legitimate concerns about President Obama’s Syrian refugee plan. Gov. Dayton quickly said that he’d accept Syrian refugees. In making that announcement, he regurgitated the administration’s chanting points, saying “I have been assured by the White House that all refugees are subject to the highest level of security checks of any category of traveler to the United States.”

That’s actually a telling quote. A security check for a person flying into the United States only requires checking for a weapon, then cross-checking the terrorist watch lists. A security check for someone who’s coming here to live is quite a bit more extensive than that.

After announcing that he’d accept Syrian refugees, Gov. Dayton said “the calls from state governors to ban Syrian refugees were ‘ludicrous’ and political posturing.” That’s administration spin. The truth is that Republican governors are raising a legitimate question about whether some of the people claiming to be refugees are ISIS terrorists.

Right now, the plan is for 10,000 Syrian refugees to be admitted into the US. Let’s say that the State Department verifies that they’re all legitimate refugees but then we learn that 3% of them are actually ISIS terrorists. That’s 300 potential terrorists that President Obama admitted into the United States in the name of humanitarianism. That’s almost 40 terrorist teams potentially.

Next, it’s important that we know 8 terrorists killed 129 people in Paris last Friday night. Next after that, it’s unlikely that the error rate will only be 3%. It’s been verified that 75% of the potential refugees are young men of the age that normally go into the military. Gov. Dayton and the Obama administration should consider the possibility that a high percentage of those ‘refugees’ are terrorists.

Rep. Jim Newberger got it exactly right when he said “The safety of our citizens is the first priority of any government body. In light of the tragic events in Paris I believe we need (to) join many of the other states in the union and stop of the flow of refugees until we can absolutely assure the safety of our own citizens.”

I won’t be polite. If there’s a terrorist attack in Minnesota, the blood will be on Gov. Dayton’s and President Obama’s hands.

Gov. Dayton’s latest diatribe is telling because of what he didn’t complain about. According to the article, “Gov. Mark Dayton is criticizing Republicans’ call to abolish MNsure as a way to counter hefty health insurance hikes.”

Nowhere in his hissy fit did Gov. Dayton or Lt. Gov. Smith complain about health insurance premiums being to expensive for Minnesota families to afford. Gov. Dayton and Lt. Gov. Smith haven’t complained that deductibles are high or that the ACA’s mandated coverages are driving up the price of insurance premiums.

While it’s true that abolishing MNsure wouldn’t drive down insurance premiums, it would eliminate a cost from the budget. The last I looked, that should be a priority for the legislature and the governor.

If taxpayers are paying for something and not getting much out of it, then that should be a prime target for elimination. If Gov. Dayton and the DFL insists on keeping MNsure around while taxpayers pay huge premium increases, that’ll tell Minnesotans that they’re more worried about their ideology than they’re worried about Minnesota families.

Good luck for the DFL if that’s the hill they’re willing to fight for. They’ll need it.

Gov. Dayton is certainly liberal but he certainly isn’t a constitutional scholar. According to this Strib article, Gov. Dayton got a little testy with North Dakota for winning a lawsuit regarding the Next Generation Energy Act, aka the NGEA. Unfortunately, the lawsuit won’t cause the NGEA to be voided. The good news is that the Supreme Court will make short work of this.

The NGEA imposes restrictions on other states by banning Minnesota utilities from “signing deals to import coal-generated electricity.” It’s entirely unsurprising that “North Dakota sued and won on the grounds that the law constitutes a trade barrier between the two states that is forbidden by the U.S. Constitution.”

Specifically, that restriction is forbidden by the Interstate Commerce Clause. Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 gives the federal government the authority “[t]o regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.” The text is clear. States aren’t allowed to put restrictions on other states that might hurt that state’s economy. Allowing Minnesota to dictate to North Dakota what it must do or can’t do is, essentially, taking over another state’s sovereign authority.

BONUS QUESTION: How would Gov. Dayton react if North Dakota’s governor signed a bill into law that forced Minnesota to build a pipeline across northern Minnesota?

Gov. Dayton didn’t just expose his lack of constitutional expertise. He went on another diatribe:

He said North Dakota has “its head in the sand,” and that Minnesota would continue to litigate to protect air quality.

What’s especially delicious is this statement:

Dave Glatt, head of the environmental health section for the North Dakota Dept. of Health, said his state is one of just a handful meeting all ambient air quality standards established by the EPA. He said roughly 25 percent of North Dakota’s total electric generation comes from wind and hydroelectric power, both non-carbon sources. Total carbon emissions are down 11 percent below 2005 levels despite the Bakken oil boom, Glatt said. He acknowledged the carbon intensity of the Bakken oil boom but said Minnesota has benefited from the boom. Oil prices have plunged in part due to a rapid rise in supply in places like North Dakota.

Gov. Dayton, stick that in your stovepipe and smoke it.

Gov. Dayton took some well-deserved heat Friday when he held a meeting in the Isle High School auditorium. He got criticized because he didn’t know what he was talking about and because the MNDNR has lost its credibility. A resort owner said that “the DNR’s numbers are skewed from the beginning. From the minute they say that netting over spawn beds is not affecting the walleye population, that’s nuts.”

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out that netting spawning beds will dramatically (and negatively) affect the walleye population of any lake. What does the DNR think happens when you remove walleyes that are trying to breed from the lake? Does the DNR think that they’re magically replaced by other breeding walleyes?

Another thing that Gov. Dayton got criticized for was his mentioning restocking the lake. That’s beyond foolish. As recently as the early 1990s, Mille Lacs Lake produced more walleye fry than all of the state’s fisheries combined. It isn’t possible for the DNR to restock Mille Lacs without hurting most of their other restocking projects across the state. Mathematically, it’s simply impossible.

Thankfully, legislators are pushing back against a special session:

“I think the suggestion of a special session is a little bit premature,” said Rep. Tom Hackbarth, R-Cedar, chair of the House Mining and Outdoor Recreation Committee. The state should look at alternatives, he said, such as promoting other fishing options on the lake and catch-and-release requirements for walleye.

Hackbarth said he isn’t convinced the DNR should be shutting down walleye fishing on Mille Lacs at all.

“Maybe we can get past this without closing the season, and that would take care of a lot of the economic problems that they’re having in the area,” he said. “How critical is it that we close it right now? Maybe we don’t need to do that.”

Rep. Hackbarth is onto something. In fact, he might’ve identified a long-term solution to the problem. The guides in the area have talked about the increase in the northern and musky populations. If Explore Minnesota started highlighting the quality musky fishing on the lake, that might reduce musky populations enough to help the walleyes rebound. I wouldn’t hesitate in highlighting the smallmouth fishing to be had on the north end of the lake.

I wish I could say that I’m surprised that Gov. Dayton defended his unfair pay raises for a set of incompetent commissioners but that’s what he did:

Gov. Mark Dayton followed through on his promise Wednesday, giving two dozen cabinet members and other commissioners salary increases. It’s essentially the same set of pay hikes Dayton granted in January before lawmakers voted to rescind the raises in the midst of a political uproar over them. The same legislation granted the DFL governor a one day window to reauthorize the pay, on July 1. And he used that power, citing the need to attract and retain high quality administrators for multi-billion-dollar state agencies.

“I do believe in government. I believe the issue isn’t smaller or larger government, it’s better or worse government,” Dayton told reporters Wednesday afternoon. “And my goal is to make government better.”

As I wrote yesterday, some commissioners are utterly incompetent. Yesterday, Gov. Dayton complained about getting criticized for his foolish decision. Here’s what he said:

GOV. DAYTON: It’s very, very frustrating to me that their bottom line goal seems to be to discredit government as much as possible, discredit me, build up some political talking points so they can get re-elected next time.

Giving incompetents like Myron Frans a $35,000 annual pay raise isn’t justified. When he was commissioner of the Department of Revenue, he projected revenue from electronic pull tabs to be $35,000,000/yr. That was the projection. The reality was $1,700,000/yr. That’s a shortfall of 95%.

When governors give $35,000 pay raises to a commissioner that was off by 95% with an important forecast, it isn’t difficult to discredit that governor. In fact, I’d argue that it’s impossible to make that governor look anything but incompetent.

Gov. Dayton whines about Republicans wanting to discredit him. The best way to prevent that is to stop doing stupid things. Unfortunately, there’s little chance that Gov. Dayton will stop making foolish decisions before he leaves office.

Technorati: , , , , ,