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It isn’t a secret that I don’t like Paul Thissen. I find him to be a man of little character but 2 faces. He’s also a political hack. This post will highlight Rep. Thissen’s character flaws. This post will highlight what he’s done recently in private vs. what he’s said publicly.

This post will highlight some of the behind-the-scenes things that caused Gov. Dayton to announce that there won’t be a special session this fall. This article’s quotes of Speaker Daudt highlight Rep. Thissen’s lack of integrity. For instance, Speaker Daudt said “I’m particularly disappointed that Minority Leader Thissen refused to meet two days ago, and refused to even provide his availability to schedule a meeting with Governor Dayton and legislative leaders.” It’s impossible to negotiate with someone who won’t even schedule a negotiating session.

Rep. Thissen sang a different tune in this article, though:

Thissen, a DFLer from Minneapolis, said it was “House Republicans that didn’t really want to get a special session done. This Legislature proved it can’t function. I think they proved that back in May,” Thissen said. “I don’t think we gain anything (politically) by not getting a special session.”

What this past session proved is that the legislature doesn’t function properly if the Minority Leader is frequently attempting to sabotage good-faith attempts to accomplish things. Rep. Thissen fit that role perfectly.

Rep. Thissen has a history of not working well with others. This past May, 7 Republicans wrote a letter to Rep. Thissen. One of the things they said was “Throughout this session, we have witnessed a disturbing pattern of verbal abuse of Republican Staff by you on the floor of the House of Representatives.” A day later, Rep. Thissen apologized, which I wrote about in this post.

Shortly after becoming Speaker in 2015, Speaker Daudt negotiated an agreement between Sen. Bakk and Gov. Dayton. At the time, Gov. Dayton said “I’m confronted with two hostile bodies of the Legislature, one with a leader I believe I can trust (Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt) and one I know I can’t trust.” That’s something that the Twin Cities media praised Speaker Daudt for.

In May, 2015, Speaker Daudt and Sen. Bakk worked out a bipartisan budget agreement in an afternoon after spending the entire last full week of the session negotiating with Gov. Dayton. Despite all that proof that Speaker Daudt is a tough, fair negotiator, Rep. Thissen wants us to believe that Speaker Daudt isn’t interested in making a deal.

Still, we’re supposed to believe Rep. Thissen when he says that Speaker Daudt didn’t want to negotiate in good faith to get a bonding bill and a tax relief bill signed? Why should we trust Rep. Thissen considering all the scandalous things he’s done?

I’ll trust Speaker Daudt because he’s got a lengthy history of negotiating in good faith. I won’t trust Rep. Thissen because he’s got a lengthy history of undermining good faith negotiations for purely partisan reasons.

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DFL senators killed the House bonding bill in mid-May by insisting that the bill include funding for the Southwest Light Rail project. In June, Gov. Dayton killed middle class tax relief with a pocket veto. In July, Gov. Dayton refused to call a special session in House Republicans didn’t include funding for the Southwest Light Rail project. (Sounds like a broken record, doesn’t it?) In August, after the Met Council, CTIB and Hennepin County provided the local funding for the Southwest Light Rail project, Gov. Dayton hinted that he was open to a special session again.

Friday, Gov. Dayton sent a letter to Speaker Daudt saying that “he had ‘reluctantly concluded that the time for agreement on a Special Session has expired.'” It expired because Gov. Dayton didn’t get everything he wanted in the bill. Republicans insisted that specific highway projects be included in the bonding bill, including the Highway 14 project. Speaker Daudt addressed that, saying “House Republicans have initiated every meeting and discussion over the past two months to pass tax relief and funding for critical infrastructure projects like Highway 23, Highway 14, and countless others throughout the state.”

In the end, Gov. Dayton said that wasn’t enough:

But the infrastructure bill was more troublesome. Lawmakers solved the money issue — Dayton’s demands that Republicans add new funding for his priorities, including upgrades at the state’s psychiatric hospital in St. Peter. But a process issue proved intractable. Dayton objected on principle to the infrastructure bill’s earmarking of money for specific projects, and was backed up in this by a letter signed by a bipartisan range of current and former chairs of the Legislature’s transportation committees. Many lawmakers like earmarking because it lets them guarantee funding for key projects in their home districts. House leaders agreed to a compromise that would give the Department of Transportation more flexibility instead of dictating every project, but Dayton’s letter said that “remains unacceptable.”

Gov. Dayton is pretending like MnDOT ultimately decides what projects get done. That’s fiction. It’s indisputable that MnDOT has a say in which projects get done. The Met Council, CTIB and port authorities all have a say in it, too.

The first time that Gov. Dayton and the DFL rejected the special session, Gov. Dayton and the DFL said no because they put a higher priority on funding the SWLRT project than they put on providing middle class tax relief. The final time that Gov. Dayton and the DFL rejected the terms for a special session, they rejected it because they didn’t get to control who picked the highway improvement projects. The reality is that farmers, veterans, students and small businesses didn’t get tax relief because Gov. Dayton and the DFL didn’t put a high priority on it. Gov. Dayton and the DFL put a higher priority on a project that the vast majority of Minnesotans will never use. Then Gov. Dayton and the DFL said no to tax relief because they didn’t get to pick their transportation projects.

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In 2015, GOP Speaker Kurt Daudt and DFL Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk put together a bipartisan budget agreement. The problem that time was that Minnesota’s other political odd couple, Gov. Mark Dayton and DFL Rep. Paul Thissen, combined to sabotage that bipartisan budget agreement. It isn’t unlike the DFL’s sabotaging of the bonding bill this session.

According to this article, “legislative and executive branch staff members [will] gather to discuss bringing legislators back this fall” this morning.

Gov. Dayton, as usual, is acting like a petulant child. This time, he said that the transportation projects in the bonding bill “were selected based on this year’s GOP election needs instead of following a list of the most-needed work as determined by his Minnesota Department of Transportation.” Gov. Dayton knows that a number of the projects specifically put into the bill were picked because the highways were among the most dangerous highways in Minnesota.

While they’re campaigning, Republicans should remind voters that the DFL put a higher priority on funding the Southwest Light Rail project than they put on middle class tax relief. The DFL voted for the Republicans’ Tax Bill but they certainly didn’t fight for it. Let Gov. Dayton criticize Republicans about which transportation projects should’ve been included in the bonding bill. Republicans can counter that by saying that they fought for funding to fix the most dangerous stretches of highway in Minnesota. Then they can remind people that they’re the party that fought for middle class tax relief.

The DFL isn’t in great position going into this election. Many of their mailers talk about bringing people together and how they need a majority in the House and Senate to pass their ultra-liberal agenda. This is my first prediction of the season. Republicans will maintain their majority in the House this election.

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It’s indisputable that Gov. Dayton fights harder for golden parachutes for his political appointees than he’s fought for tax relief for farmers, veterans, students with student loan debt and small business owners. In fact, it’s indisputable that Gov. Dayton and the DFL have fought hard to increase commissioners’ pay.

Think about this: Gov. Dayton and the DFL passed legislation that gave Gov. Dayton’s commissioners pay raises that sometimes exceeded $30,000 a year. Then Gov. Dayton illegally gave 3 of his political appointees more than $75,000 in severance packages. Katie Clark-Sieben’s pay raises increased her salary by $60,000, then she received a $33,750 golden parachute when she left government to pursue other interests. Meanwhile, the DFL legislative leadership has been quiet as a mouse about the severance packages.

Thankfully, Republicans Speaker Daudt and Rep. Sarah Anderson aren’t letting go of this. Speaker Daudt released this statement, saying “Once again, Governor Dayton has disrespected taxpayers and used their money to inappropriately reward his top officials who are already making six-figure salaries. Today’s report highlights the importance of House Republicans’ role as a check and balance on Democrats’ wasteful spending.” Speaker Daudt’s statement also included this:

House Republicans are calling on Governor Dayton to explain unauthorized taxpayer-funded severance payments after a report emerged Tuesday that his administration awarded nearly $80,000 to state employees who voluntarily departed. The most generous severance agreement, awarded to a former Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, came on the heels of massive taxpayer-funded pay increases authorized by Governor Dayton. This commissioner was previously a top staffer on Dayton’s campaign for governor in 2010.

The DFL’s actions are insulting on multiple levels. First, the DFL’s priorities aren’t Minnesota’s priorities. The last time the DFL ran St. Paul, they passed a bill that paid for the $90,000,000 Senate Office Building. They passed another bill that gave $30,000 pay raises to high-profile political appointees. Those aren’t priorities for many Minnesotans.

This year, Gov. Dayton apparently decided that the $30,000/yr. pay raises weren’t enough for his cronies. This year, Gov. Dayton threw his cronies a $75,000 bone in the form of golden parachutes. This year, Gov. Dayton pocket vetoed a tax bill that would’ve provided $550,000,000 worth of tax relief for veterans, farmers, students and small businesses.

What’s stunning is that the DFL won’t answer questions about this:

A spokeswoman for the DFL Senate Majority said Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk and Senate State Governments and Veterans Budget Division Chair Tom Saxhaug, DFL-Grand Rapids, said the two legislators would not comment on Dayton’s decision to offer severance to political appointees.

Then there’s this:

It isn’t clear why Sieben, Phillips and Wright were given a severance. Eight other commissioners who also left voluntarily during Dayton’s time in office didn’t receive severance pay.

Apparently, the trick to getting ahead in Minnesota is to make campaign contributions to Gov. Dayton’s campaign, then cash in when he appoints you to a cushy job in his administration. If you’re a blue collar worker, though, you’re SOL with the Dayton administration. They’ll only fight for certain types of white collar workers.

Keep this in mind when you go to the polls: The DFL won’t fight for you if you’re a blue collar worker. They’ll only fight for white collar government workers and the special interests.

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In mid-June, Gov. Dayton pocket vetoed a tax relief bill that would’ve provided tax relief to lots of middle-class people, which I wrote about here. The editorial I quoted got it right when it said “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. 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.”

Gov. Dayton didn’t hesitate in vetoing this tax relief for farmers, veterans, small businesses and students. There’s something else that Gov. Dayton didn’t hesitate in doing. Gov. Dayton didn’t hesitate in paying his political appointees huge severance packages. Republicans are demanding that Gov. Dayton rescind those severance packages. Gov. Dayton, through his mouthpiece, has refused:

State law explicitly authorizes severance of up to six months’ salary for senior-level state employees, who make more than 60 percent of the governor’s salary, when they leave state service. We offered severances of up to three months’ salary to three agency heads, as the law expressly permits. The governor made those decisions, and in his judgement the circumstances justified those severances. Gov. Pawlenty used the same statute to authorize severance payments of $73,552 for two senior-level state employees. House Republicans are desperately trying to place a fig leaf over their failure last session to pass the bills that Minnesotans really need: a correctly-written tax bill, statewide building projects, and improved highways, roads, bridges and public transit.

WCCO’s Pat Kessler highlights this important difference:

MMB documents show Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty paid out $75,552 in severance checks to two state workers in 2005 who were not political appointees. One former employee, an administrative law judge, got $26,478. Another, a legislative audit manager, got $47,097.

They weren’t political appointees. They were public employees with lots of time on the job. Speaking of which, “Republicans say the law allows severance only under strict conditions, one of which is 10 years of service before becoming eligible. Republicans say the law allows severance only under strict conditions, one of which is 10 years of service before becoming eligible.”

The moral of this is that Gov. Dayton killed tax relief to farmers, veterans, students buried with student loan debt and small businesses without hesitation. By comparison, he’s fighting hard for illegal severance packages for his political appointees. It’s apparent that Gov. Dayton’s priorities aren’t Minnesota’s priorities.

Finally, it’s worth noting that the DFL legislative leaders, who spout off about all kinds of silly subjects, are silent about this. It’s just more proof that the DFL isn’t the party of the little guy … unless they’re government employees.

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This article makes it pretty clear that farmers aren’t fond of Gov. Dayton. It isn’t a stretch to think that farmers aren’t happy with DFL legislators, either.

Farmers are upset with Gov. Dayton because “farmers were not happy when Dayton tried to do an end-around the legislative intent of the new buffer law and make it apply to private farmland as well as public bodies of water.” As always, Gov. Dayton tried siding with the environmental activist wing of the DFL.

Gov. Dayton wasn’t satisfied with just that. According to the article, Gov. Dayton “followed that with an executive order aimed at restricting the use of certain pesticides that some scientists have implicated in the decline in pollinators, such as honeybees.”

Gov. Dayton still wasn’t finished. According to Becker County Board Chairman Barry Nelson, “the new buffer law will also cost farmers money, because areas now enrolled in the federal Conservation Reserve Program will no longer qualify because of state-mandated buffers.”

TRANSLATION: Farmers get shafted because Gov. Dayton couldn’t resist appeasing the DFL’s environmental activist wing. Gov. Dayton didn’t consult with the farmers though it’s virtually certain that he gave the environmental activists all the time they needed to make their case for this law.

It isn’t a secret that the DFL’s reputation with farmers is dropping. Rep. Thissen thinks that expanding broadband in rural Minnesota is the way to attract additional voters. Apparently, Gov. Dayton thinks that farmers won’t notice him siding with environmental activists. It isn’t that farmers don’t care about other things. It’s that they care most about making money through farming.

Thus far, Gov. Dayton and Rep. Thissen haven’t figured that out. That’s why Republicans will hold onto their majority in the House. That’s why they have a shot at flipping the Minnesota Senate.

Technorati: Mark Dayton, Paul Thissen, Tom Landwehr, Department of Natural Resources, Buffer Zones, Environmental Activists, DFL, Farmers, MNGOP, Election 2016

Will PCAs vote for decertification? If they’re persuaded by Jason Flohrs’ op-ed, the SEIU will see a significant drop in revenues.

Gov. Dayton and the SEIU got away with rigging an election. That’s because “less than 6,000 of the state’s 27,000 PCAs voted” to have the SEIU represent PCAs. The question that the SEIU and Gov. Dayton haven’t answered is why all PCAs weren’t given the right to vote to organize or not organize.

What’s insulting is the fact that Gov. Dayton signed a bill that defined these PCAs as government employees. In many instances, they’re family members taking care of other family members. According to SEIU, they’re government employees “because they receive a small Medicaid subsidy to care for the disabled person.” That’s how in-the-bag for the government unions Gov. Dayton is.

It’s important to distinguish between Gov. Dayton’s love of public employee unions and his apathy towards pipefitters, heavy equipment operators and miners. If you’re a miner, Gov. Dayton thinks you’re a second-class citizen. But I digress.

As Kris Greene, a PCA in Minnesota told the Daily Caller, the union has “not benefited me or my family. I really feel it’s about politics and not for me or my daughter…I just want to take care of my daughter in the best way that she needs and all this other stuff is just interference.”

Thankfully for Greene and the thousands of other Minnesota home caregivers who want to care for their loved one without the union skimming off the top, there is a remedy: Decertifying the union. If Greene and her fellow PCAs are able to collect enough signatures by Nov. 20, they will force another vote, in which a majority of caregivers who participate could select to be free from unionization. At www.decertify.org, Minnesota PCAs can fill out a card to be mailed in to add their signature in support of a decertification vote.

Rest assured of this: if there’s a vote on decertification, SEIU is history as far as representing the PCAs. These PCAs see the SEIU for what they are: parasites skimming 3% of their Medicaid subsidy, then doing nothing in return for their ‘representation.’ It’s time for these PCAs to rid themselves of these SEIU parasites.

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It’s clear that the Grand Forks Herald won’t hesitate in taking sides in the special session fight. Their editorial takes Gov. Dayton’s side without hesitation.

That’s stated emphatically when they wrote “The sticking point was Southwest Light Rail. And Southwest Light Rail now has been taken off the table. On Friday, Dayton and House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, met and talked about renewed prospects for a special session. Local Reps. Deb Kiel, R-Crookston, and Dan Fabian, R-Roseau, should encourage Daudt to come to terms with the governor at last.”

Why isn’t it Gov. Dayton’s responsibility to come to terms with Speaker Daudt? The legislature passed a wildly popular tax bill that Gov. Dayton pocket-vetoed. The House passed a bonding bill that had significant bipartisan support. That legislation didn’t get to Gov. Dayton’s desk because DFL senators sabotaged the bill that would’ve paid for fixing some of the most dangerous stretches of highway in Minnesota.

If anyone is responsible for the bonding bill not getting passed and the Tax Bill getting vetoed, it’s the DFL and Gov. Dayton. They’re the ones that put a higher priority on funding SWLRT than on fixing dangerous highways. If people get injured on the highways that would’ve gotten funded by the bonding bill, it’s on the DFL’s heads.

Republicans’ priorities were fine. I’m being charitable in saying that the DFL’s priorities were misguided. It’s as if Gov. Dayton wants to be an ideologue rather than being the governor of the entire state of Minnesota. Shame on him. Shame on the Grand Forks Herald for siding with Gov. Dayton.

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Rachel Stassen-Berger’s article highlights two frightening facts. First, it highlights the fact that Gov. Dayton doesn’t take his oath of office seriously.

In his oath of office, governors swear to protect the state and federal constitution. When asked “Thursday if he believes he signed an unconstitutional law, Dayton said, ‘It’s fine with me if they (the Supreme Court Justices) decide that.'” In other words, Gov. Dayton doesn’t have a problem if the Minnesota Supreme Court rules that he signed a bill that’s unconstitutional.

That’s actually the least frightening thing from the article. The most frightening quote from the article was Ms. Otto’s statement that “This office belongs to the taxpayers and not to the Legislature. Auditing counties is a core constitutional duty of the office. I will not let this go. I must do everything I can to preserve this function on behalf of the people of Minnesota.”

Actually, Ms. Otto’s statement is frightening on multiple levels but mostly because of this part of Minnesota’s Constitution:

What part of the “duties and salaries of the executive officers shall be prescribed by law” doesn’t Ms. Otto understand? Are we to believe that the duties of the State Auditor are defined by state law but that the duties of those that work for the State Auditor are defined by the Minnesota State Constitution? If the Constitution defines the auditors’ responsibilities, which article and which section are those duties found in?

Simply put, Minnesota’s Constitution established the Office of State Auditor, aka the OSA. That’s indisputable. It’s equally indisputable that the duties and authorities of the OSA aren’t spelled out in the Constitution. That’s because they’re assigned by the legislature and approved by the governor. That’s what happened in 2015.

If the Minnesota Supreme Court rules that the 2015 law is unconstitutional, the justices that ruled it unconstitutional should be impeached and replaced with jurists that are faithful to the Constitution, not to the DFL. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. Let’s hope that this is so straightforward that it’s a unanimous ruling against Ms. Otto. Otherwise, the Minnesota Supreme Court would essentially rule in the DFL’s favor the vast majority of the time.

That isn’t justice. That’s hardball politics.

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Thus far, people have tiptoed around what the judge ruled last Friday in the lawsuit brought by Rebecca Otto. Ms. Otto is quoted as saying “In the decision, the court granted our motion in part and denied it in part,” Otto said. “As we requested, the court recognized the core constitutional function of the Office of the State Auditor to audit counties. The court also held that the Office of the State Auditor may ‘continue to exercise its constitutional authority to audit counties to pay for such audits.’ We are reviewing the opinion and analyzing our options.”

It would’ve been surprising if the court had ruled that the OSA didn’t have the authority to be the state’s main auditor. This isn’t surprising. That’s as surprising as the judiciary finding that the Secretary of State had the authority to monitor elections. Later, Ms. Otto said this:

“Unfortunately, the district court also permitted counties to hire private CPA firms at their discretion to conduct an “initial audit.” We respectfully disagree with this aspect of the district court’s decision. It will result in an unacceptable diminishment of the protection this constitutional office provides on behalf of the taxpayers of this state.”

The OSA already has given some counties the authority to hire CPA firms to do their audits. With that being the case, Ms. Otto’s intellectual fight is flimsy. She’s essentially arguing that she has the authority to give counties the right to hire CPA firms to perform their audit but that the legislature doesn’t have that authority.

Further complicating matters is that Ms. Otto is essentially arguing that the statutes that have assigned specific responsibilities to the OSA and other statutes assigning specific responsibilities to other constitutional offices are constitutional but that this statute, and this statute alone, is unconstitutional.

If the Minnesota Supreme Court rules in Ms. Otto’s favor, then we’ll have verifiable proof that Gov. Dayton stacked that court with judges that will rule in the DFL’s favor no matter what the Constitution says. Let’s hope that these justices aren’t partisans first and jurists second. Here’s hoping that they’re jurists first, last and only.

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