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Despite Gov. Dayton’s best efforts to play the part of Obstructionist-in-Chief, with a supporting cast of metro environmentalists and SWLRT activists, it appears as though a bipartisan compromise has been reached between Sen. Jeremy Miller, (R-Winona), and Sen. Roger Reinert, (DFL-Duluth).

The key part of their compromises comes when they say “While there are projects in the districts we represent that didn’t make the bonding bill legislative leaders agreed to in the final hours of regular session, we realize that in order to garner the three-fifths super majority needed in each chamber to pass a bonding bill, any additional projects will need to have a strong state-wide significance.”

Sen. Miller and Sen. Reinert then lay out their proposal, saying “First, in recognition of the University of Minnesota’s critical role in our designation as a top state for healthcare education, access, and outcomes, we support including the University of Minnesota Health Sciences Education Facility in a final bonding bill. Second, in order to avoid unnecessary additional costs to taxpayers that would occur if the Minnesota Security Hospital Upgrade is not fully funded this year, we also support including their full request in the bonding bill.”

Simply put, I think this paints Gov. Dayton into a tight corner. It’s apparent that there’s significant bipartisan opposition to Gov. Dayton’s demands for funding SWLRT. Here’s the senators’ letter:

When it comes to dishonest DFL politicians, Paul Thissen is in the conversation. Though he isn’t at the top of the list, he’s certainly part of the conversation. Yesterday, Rep. Thissen issued this statement. To be fair to Rep. Thissen, there were fragments of truth in his statement.

For instance, Rep. Thissen was sort of right in saying “Republicans have refused to provide any compromise offers to get needed tax, bonding and budget bills passed in a special session.” I say sort of right because they’re sticking with the House bill, which included lots of DFL priorities in it. I wrote this article to highlight the amount of compromise included in the House bonding/transportation bill. I included a lengthy quote from Sen. David Hann in the article. He was clearly and justifiably upset with Gov. Dayton’s refusal to drop any of his demands. Here’s what Sen. Hann said:

I would just reiterate that the bills that we had on the last day of session were compromise bills. Go back again. Look at the tape. Look at Sen. Stumpf talking about the bonding/transportation bill. He called it a “true compromise between Republicans and Democrats.” The Speaker has pointed out that half of that bill, more than half of it, had the Governor’s priorities in it. And now we’re supposedly at a point where all of those compromises are off the table and we’ve got another $243,000,000 of additional spending that we are being asked to do without any backing away from that number — an additional couple hundred million in bonding.

And all of this is kind of in complete denial of all of the compromise work that had gone on this entire last session. This is what I find so remarkable. I think it is a setback. Why, after a whole session and actually going back to the session before of talking about some of these issues, to now have a bill get killed at the last minute with a request for a light rail project that no one had ever seen a hearing on and now, that becomes a must have and they say we have to start over and renegotiate everything, I think it is a setback.

Rep. Thissen, why should Republicans offer additional compromises when Gov. Dayton refuses to move a square centimeter from his post-session positions? Rep. Thissen apparently thinks that Republicans should always compromise and that DFL politicians don’t ever have to compromise.

Later in his statement, Rep. Thissen said “If House Republicans were serious about doing the job they were elected to do, they wouldn’t be bringing controversial new policy into the discussion at this stage.” That’s rich. The only reason we’re in this position is because a handful of DFL senators amended the House bonding/transportation bill with less than 10 minutes left in the session to include a provision for funding for the Southwest Light Rail project. That provision was controversial. It wasn’t discussed in any House or Senate committee hearings. As Sen. Hann points out, “now it becomes a must have and we have to start over and renegotiate everything.”

It’s time Speaker Daudt and Sen. Hann turned up the heat on Gov. Dayton for killing the Tax Bill, then refusing the legislature to fix it. Gov. Dayton said he wouldn’t hold the Tax Bill hostage. I guess he meant he wouldn’t hold it hostage until he started using it as leverage in negotiations. Here’s why that’s important.

Gov. Dayton wants to increase the size of the bonding bill by more than 40% over the House bonding/transportation bill. Further, he wants $243,000,000 worth of additional spending for the Twin Cities added to a new supplemental appropriations bill after signing a major supplemental appropriations bill a month ago.

In other words, Gov. Dayton is insisting on getting everything he’s wanted from the start of the regular session. Republicans need to expose him for the autocrat that he is. Similarly, they need to expose the DFL as the party who hasn’t negotiated in good faith and that aren’t interested in doing what’s right for Minnesotans. Here’s Rep. Thissen’s statement:

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In a PR stunt, Gov. Dayton announced that he’s appealing the ruling shooting down the Next Generation Energy Act, aka the NGEA. It’s a PR stunt because Gov. Dayton said “it’s a matter of protecting air quality.” The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals disagrees, saying that “Minnesota would need Congressional approval to enforce that section of the 2007 law.”

Gov. Dayton is standing on shaky constitutional ground. He’s argued that the NGEA “doesn’t illegally restrict new coal-powered plants but merely requires that they be offset by reductions at existing plants.” That’s irrelevant. The Interstate Commerce Clause, found in Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 of the US Constitution states “The Congress shall have Power To … To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.”

Think of the insanity if this wasn’t the case. If the ICC didn’t exist, North Dakota could pass a law that requires all electricity sold into North Dakota had to be from nuclear power plants. Without the ICC, Minnesota would face a choice of not selling electricity into North Dakota or to generate that electricity at nuclear power plants.

Such laws would demolish state sovereignty. That’s intolerable.

A three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court’s decision last week that barred Minnesota from enforcing key sections of the Next Generation Energy Act. The court sided with North Dakota utilities and other interests that argued [the NGEA] illegally regulates out-of-state utilities.

As usual, Rep. Pat Garofalo nails it with this statement:

This is an election year stunt aimed at improving turnout with environmental activists. It’s Gov. Dayton’s signal that he’s with them. Sadly, Gov. Dayton didn’t swear an oath to be with them. The oath he took said that he’d uphold the Minnesota Constitution and the US Constitution. As usual, he’s got his priorities all mixed up.

The SC Times Editorial Board isn’t as unflinchingly liberal as the Strib’s Editorial Board but it’s a close second in Minnesota. This editorial isn’t the worst that they’ve published but it’s still a cheerleading editorial.

For instance, this editorial says “Earlier, the Times Editorial Board gave this advice to Gov. Mark Dayton: Don’t call a special session. Make the lawmakers deal with the consequences of failing to find agreement on some major legislation.” Clearly, the Times Editorial Board is picking Gov. Dayton’s side. It’s as if they’re absolving him of any responsibility for the trainwreck.

Gov. Dayton isn’t innocent in all this. He’s the idiot that vetoed the Tax Bill that would’ve provided tax relief to small businesses, farmers, students with crushing student loan debt, parents trying to save for their kids’ college education and military veterans. Is the Times Editorial Board cheering this disastrous decision? That’s what it looks like.

Dayton’s glum status report: “We’re moving backward.”

Gov. Dayton ought to know. He’s the politician who’s moving things backwards. During the session, he signed a supplemental spending bill. It wasn’t for nearly the amount that he’d originally wanted. Gov. Dayton is now insisting that a special session won’t be called until Speaker Daudt agrees to give him the rest of his spending request.

Thankfully, Speaker Daudt rejected that demand. Meanwhile, the Times apparently doesn’t care that hard-working blue collar people have gotten deprived of tax relief thanks to the actions of a spoiled trust fund liberal. Listen to Sen. Hann’s opening statement in this video. It’s quite compelling:

Dayton’s limousine liberalism and his my-way-or-the-highway negotiating style sends the clear message that he puts his ideology ahead of doing the right thing for Minnesotans. Lumped in with that is the DFL itself.

Sen. Hann noted the bipartisan nature of the bonding/transportation bill. Now Gov. Dayton wants to essentially start over and include all of his priorities while refusing to accept Republicans’ proposals. That’s what obstructionist liberalism looks like.

Let’s be clear. If Sen. Bakk were a profile in courage, he’d break with Gov. Dayton and insist that Gov. Dayton call a special session to fix the Tax Bill. The fact that he’s stayed silent says everything.

Finally, why has Gov. Dayton and the DFL insisted on a bonding bill that funds Southwest Light Rail? Twin Cities progressives insist that it’s needed. They’ve never explained why it’s needed. That hasn’t mattered to the Times. Like an obedient puppy, they’ve refrained from asking important questions. That isn’t surprising, especially considering the Times’ puppy dog reputation.

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It wouldn’t be a special session if the DFL’s special interest allies didn’t suddenly rush out of the woodwork like they’re doing now. This morning, legislative leaders met with Gov. Dayton and Lt. Gov. Tina Flint-Smith. PBS’s Mary Lahammer tweeted that negotiations are underway. Meanwhile, David Montgomery is reporting that the meeting is over. Montgomery quoted Speaker Daudt as saying “I’m still optimistic we’ll get to a special session. It may take some time.”

That’s probably right. I suspect that the DFL won’t cave until they start seeing how poorly they’re doing in outstate districts in the House and Senate. That’s the point at which they’ll have their ‘come to Jesus’ meeting with Gov. Dayton. It would be embarrassing for the DFL to thrown out of the majority in the Senate in the year Hillary cleans Trump’s clock in Minnesota. Still, that’s a distinct possibility.

The array of DFL special interests this morning was impressive in a depressing way. Transportation Forward put together a rally. Check out their list of DFL special interest “Coalition Partners“. I’ve made this graphic showing the environmental organizations on Transportation Forward’s “Coalition Partners”:

Organizations highlighted are hardline environmental activist organizations.
Here’s some other Coalition Partners:

Transportation Forward’s special interest allies have made it essentially impossible to negotiate a deal for a special session. That’s disappointing.

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When this year’s legislative session ended, the CW was that the DFL held the upper hand in the PR/campaign fight. Whether that was true or not at the time isn’t relevant anymore. What’s relevant is who’s fought the smartest fight to this point. This statement hammers home some important points.

In total, it says “House Republicans did their job this year, negotiated in good faith and passed bipartisan bills on the priorities most important to Minnesotans. Unfortunately, Senate Democrats and Gov. Dayton deliberately obstructed progress. First, Senate Democrats blocked funding for transportation and infrastructure, then Governor Dayton vetoed tax relief for working families, college students, parents, farmers, and veterans. If Gov. Dayton knew he was going to veto the tax bill, he should have done it a long time ago and called a special session right away. Now the election is ramping up and the political environment will get in the way of honest compromises. We are willing to hold a special session. We agree with Gov. Dayton’s requests in the tax relief bill, and we should pass the bipartisan compromise transportation and infrastructure bill that was agreed to on the last day of session. We are not going to rehash the whole session by repeating negotiations on half a billion dollars of new spending demands.”

The DFL has talked solely about process, talking about the end of session. Republicans have talked about Gov. Dayton vetoing the Tax Bill, then questioning why Gov. Dayton decided to hurt veterans, farmers, college students, parents saving for their kids’ college education and small businesses.

I won’t say that people don’t care about process. If I were a betting man, though, I’d bet that people care more about getting tax relief. If the DFL thinks that they’re winning that fight, I hope they keep thinking that.

The DFL is also highlighting the line ‘If the Twin Cities wants to raise the money to build SWLRT, they should be able to.’ I’d agree to that statement only if the DFL agreed that the metro also paid for the annual operating deficits, too.

The DFL needs to pick up seats in exurban and rural Minnesota. Arguing that tax relief for farmers, veterans and small businesses hinges on a metro project is exceptional stupid politics on the DFL’s part.

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It gives me great joy to write this post to tell loyal readers of LFR that a 3-judge panel has ruled that Minnesota overstepped its authority when it passed the Next Generation Energy Act, aka NGEA.

The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that “the Next Generation Energy Act violates the U.S. Constitution’s provision allowing only Congress to regulate commerce among states.” According to the article, the three-judge panel “unanimously decided Minnesota does not have the authority to order North Dakota plants to make changes,” saying “a statute that has the practical effect of exerting extraterritorial control over ‘commerce that takes place wholly outside of the state’s borders’ is likely to be invalid.”

Put in simpler terms, this ruling isn’t likely to be overturned. If it were, it would, hypothetically speaking, give North Dakota the authority to pass a law that required that all electricity generated in Minnesota and sold to the regional power grid to be nuclear power. Still, Gov. Dayton isn’t backing down:

“I will continue to defend the state of Minnesota’s right to protect the quality of the air our citizens breathe,” Dayton said. “The state statute does not prevent anyone from building and operating a new power-generating facility, whose emissions will affect Minnesota’s air quality. It only requires that those new emissions must be offset by the same or greater reduction in emissions from other plants. In other words, Minnesota’s law encourages the replacement of older, more-polluting power plants with more efficient, cleaner facilities.”

Those are brave-sounding words but they aren’t rooted in intelligence. They’re rooted in the left’s ideology. No state has the right to order another state what it must do on anything. That ‘right’ doesn’t exist.

Stenehjem said that Minnesota’s options are limited: ask the entire appeals court to take up the issue, appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court or accept Wednesday’s ruling and pay North Dakota $1 million. The attorney general said the first two options are rarely accepted by the court system and he prefers the third. “I think it is more of a roadblock than a speed bump,” Stenehjem said of the ruling.

This ruling pretty much settles this issue. Gov. Dayton has the right to appeal the ruling but that’s just a waste of taxpayers’ money on a case he’ll lose.

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Saying that this editorial doesn’t have a pro-DFL tone to it is understatement. Let’s start with where the editorialist says “when Gov. Mark Dayton pocket vetoed HF 848 which would’ve provided significant tax relief to the citizens of Minnesota, it sort of felt like something major was lost.”

I don’t think Gov. Dayton realizes that his veto of the Tax Bill is killing the DFL. When the editorialist writes “Gone was tax relief for veterans, gone was tax relief for small business owners, gone was a tax break for farmers, gone was a tax break for the residents of Houston County who live in Minnesota but work in Wisconsin, gone was the forgiveness of interest paid on debt on the new school building.” he listed all of the groups of people who were hurt by Gov. Dayton’s veto. That’s a devastating paragraph.

It’s even more damaging to the DFL when the editorialist adds “All because the governor wanted additional monies for a light rail line in Minneapolis. Two years of hard, hard work by Rep. Greg Davids (Rep. Preston) on the bill dissolved by the governor not signing the measure into law.” This places the blame for Minnesotans not getting tax relief squarely on Gov. Dayton’s shoulders. People won’t care about the drafting error. Their response is likely to be ‘Call a special session and fix it then.’

Contrary to popular opinion, Republicans aren’t the ones at risk. The DFL is. While Gov. Dayton and the DFL whines about the end-of-session process, Republicans talk about the tax cuts that Gov. Dayton vetoed. In a messaging fight of end-of-session process vs. DFL vetoed tax relief, tax relief wins by a wide margin. If the DFL thinks that’s a fair fight, I’ll agree. It’s as fair a fight as I’d like.

Davids, when receiving the phone call from the governor of his plan to veto it, worked to appeal to their friendship. The governor chose politics.

That’s as surprising as finding out that the sun rises in the east. There’s more:

The Republicans came up from $600 million to $950 million in the bonding bill that would’ve addressed transportation needs in the state. Davids said anything over $1 billion jeopardizes the state’s bond rating. The governor wants $1.5 billion with about $600 million going towards a new light rail line in the metro.

Gov. Dayton is foolish if he thinks Republicans will cave on SWLRT funding. Like I said earlier, Republicans are in the stronger position. The DFL is sitting in a position of weakness, especially in outstate Minnesota.

People living in outstate Minnesota won’t care if SWLRT is funded. They’ll care that Gov. Dayton vetoed their tax relief. The longer this drags out, the better it is for Republicans. That’s because they’re fighting for fixing roads and bridges and significant tax relief.

That’s a winner for the GOP and then some.

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The special session that everyone wants to have hinges on 2 things: Gov. Dayton’s insistence on more spending in the general budget and funding of the SWLRT. Of the two, it’s thought that funding SWLRT is the higher priority for Gov. Dayton and the DFL.

That makes sense since they’re the metro party. They aren’t the party that puts a high priority on roads and bridges. They’re the party that sees transportation through the lens of using transportation as a tool for social engineering.

If there is a special session, there’s no doubt that the Tax Bill will be fixed, passed and signed. If Gov. Dayton vetoes it again, that veto will be put up for an override vote, which would pass overwhelmingly. The DFL doesn’t dare sustain Gov. Dayton’s veto this close to the election. That would be political suicide.

But I digress. Back to the transportation section of the bonding bill. Republicans should be the ‘party of no’ on SWLRT funding. In return, they could throw in a few more dollars for traditional transit. They should, however, be steadfast in their opposition to funding SWLRT.

If Gov. Dayton and the DFL pick SWLRT as their hill to fight and die on, then Republicans should take them up on that offer. That fight would strengthen every exurban and rural GOP incumbent and challenger immensely. It would simultaneously weaken every DFL legislator and challenger, too. This is one of the few times when politics is a zero-sum proposition.

Beyond the special session, though, Republicans should make a concerted effort to explain why the gas tax is obsolete as a funding method for fixing Minnesota’s roads and bridges. Though this op-ed talks about Wisconsin’s transportation situation, the same principles apply:

Wisconsinites are going farther on the same gallon of gas than they were even 10 years ago. This trend will not be reversing. The number of vehicles on the road has been stable since the beginning of the decade. The state cannot count on more vehicles on the road to make up for fewer gallons needed per vehicle. Furthermore, add in new vehicles that do not use gas or use very little like hybrids, fuel cells, and all electric, the future of gas tax revenue becomes clear to anyone with a basic understanding of mathematics.

The gas tax has reached the point of diminishing return. Increases in the gas tax will not provide the all the desired additional revenues the legislators, transportation bureaucrats, and road builders hope for. When you raise the price of something, you get less of it. When gasoline was $4.00 per gallon, people drove less than they do now at $2.50. Drivers also gravitated to more fuel efficient options or options that do not use gasoline at all. These options will only get more abundant as the technology improves.

In 2008, the DFL promised that raising the gas tax would provide the funds to fix Minnesota’s roads and bridges. It’s failed miserably. I predicted at the time it would fail. I wasn’t alone.

It’s time to start pushing the issue of finding different ways to fund road and bridge repair. If the GOP wants to provide a contrast to the DFL on transportation, which it should, this is the approach to take.

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Yesterday, negotiators from the Minnesota House and Senate theoretically met in the hopes of hammering out a bonding bill agreement. That wasn’t the DFL’s goal. DFL senators, led by Jeff Hayden, blamed Republicans for not getting the bonding bill passed.

The DFL used the same misleading arguments they’ve been using since the DFL Senate sabotaged a bill that had broad bipartisan support. Here’s what’s important to know. The House passed a $1,000,000,000 bonding bill without funding for SWLRT. SWLRT funding wasn’t part of the agreement reached by Speaker Daudt and Sen. Bakk. Simply put, it didn’t have the votes to pass in the House.

Key questions: Why does the DFL insist on pushing a controversial project that didn’t have the votes to pass? Isn’t that a definition of insanity? Isn’t that what you’d do if you wanted to prevent a bill from passing while blaming the other side for your obstruction?

Another tactic that the FL is using to deflect criticism from Gov. Dayton’s veto of the tax bill is talk about the $100,000,000 drafting error. The minute Gov. Dayton brought it up, Speaker Daudt agreed to fix it the minute a special session was called. Problem solved, right? In Sanityville, yes. In Dayton-DFLville, that molehill turned into a mountain. At least, that’s how some of Twin Cities media are playing it.

Simply put, Gov. Dayton vetoed a tax bill that a) provided tax relief to farmers, small businesses, students will college loan debt, veterans and parents saving for their kids’ college education and b) passed 178-22 in the House and Senate.

Key question: Doesn’t real leadership accept yes for an answer and move onto bonding bill negotiations?

Gov. Dayton and the DFL aren’t about fixing things, though. Their word salad automatically talks about ‘bringing people together’ and ‘making progress’. The DFL never talks about fixing problems. The DFL doesn’t talk about doing the right thing.

There’s a reason for that. The DFL doesn’t want to get to a point where things are running smoothly. The DFL doesn’t want to fix things. If that happened, people might expect that. If that happened, people might notice that they prefer limited government that gets the important things right all the time and worries about peripheral things once they’ve gotten the important things right. The day that that happens is the day that progressives are out of a job.

The DFL’s whining is aimed at one thing: regaining control of the House so they control state government again. Thoughtful people should reject that possibility ASAP. The last time the DFL ran St. Paul, taxes got raised, including property taxes, spending went through the roof and they checked off tons of things from their special interest allies’ wish lists.

As a result, capitol flight accelerated and young, productive, people left the state at a greater rate. If losing the border battle brain drain sounds appealing, vote DFL. If you want statewide prosperity, vote GOP. It’s that simple.

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