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Minnesota’s story of the year is simple. In fact, the top 2 stories of the year are intertwined. When Gov. Dayton stated that “the Affordable Care Act is no longer affordable” to growing numbers of Minnesotans, jaws dropped because they knew he’d just issued a death sentence to DFL legislators in November’s elections. Though he tried rehabilitating their campaigns with this op-ed, pundits knew that it was too little too late.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Dayton’s statement was Minnesota’s Story of the Year. That was so straightforward that even Gov. Dayton figured it out.

The highlight of Gov. Dayton’s op-ed was when he wrote “I ask you to vote for two years with DFL majorities in both the Minnesota House and Senate, to fulfill my pledge to you: A better Minnesota.” Not only did Minnesotans reject that request, they voted for a bigger majority for Speaker Daudt in the House while flipping the Senate from a DFL majority body to a GOP majority. You can’t send a clearer, more unmistakable, message to Gov. Dayton.

Voters didn’t just reject Gov. Dayton’s request. They sent the message that they were rejecting his hard-left agenda. They sent the message that the pressure is on him to abandon his my-way-or-the-highway negotiations.

Frankly, Minnesotans are tired of fixing Gov. Dayton’s messes. They’re tired of his constant giving the environmental activist wing of the DFL everything they want while shafting the blue collar workers of outstate Minnesota.

If Republicans get popular things done the next 2 years, they’ll keep their majorities in the House and Senate and elect a real governor. Not getting everything they want done over the next 2 years isn’t failure. It’s success because that gives voters motivation to elect a Republican governor in 2018.

Gov. Dayton admitting that President Obama’s “signature issue” is a failure was Minnesota’s story of the year. Minnesota voters’ resounding rejection of Gov. Dayton was Minnesota’s next biggest story.

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Earlier this week, Speaker Daudt told reporters that his relationship with Gov. Dayton was “damaged.” The key question that the Twin Cities media hasn’t asked is why their relationship is damaged. The AP’s Kyle Potter opened his article by saying “Gov. Mark Dayton and House Speaker Kurt Daudt will enter 2017 with a ‘damaged relationship,’ the Republican speaker said Monday, foreshadowing difficulty at the Capitol when the Legislature is charged with passing a two-year budget and address other key priorities.”

Let’s re-examine what happened since mid-October. On Oct. 12, Gov. Dayton admitted that “the Affordable Care Act is no longer affordable for an increasing number of people. We’re going to need both state and federal governments to step in and do what they need to do to remedy these problems.” Since then, Republicans came up with a plan to fix the affordability part of the ACA/MNsure crisis. This chart shows the differences between the Republicans’ plan, which addressed affordability, access and other important factors, with Gov. Dayton’s bare bones proposal:

There’s no disputing the fact that Gov. Dayton is upset. What’s in question is why he’s upset. Is he upset that Republicans put together a serious plan that would fix each of the major problems with the ACA? Is Gov. Dayton upset that the DFL’s plan is pathetic and skimpy?

Gov. Dayton owes it to Minnesotans to stop acting like a spoiled brat. For better or worse, he’s Minnesota’s CEO. It’s time he put his big boy britches on and did what’s right for all Minnesotans. Lately, there’s been lots of talk from the DFL about government shutdowns. It’s time Gov. Dayton and the DFL stopped pandering to their special interest allies and did what’s right for Minnesotans.

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This morning, KSTP’s Tom Hauser interviewed incoming Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka and incoming House Minority Leader Melisa Hortman. One of the first topics they discussed was MNsure. Sen. Gazelka quickly made the point that Minnesota’s system prior to the ACA was significantly superior to the system we’re currently dealing with. To her credit, Rep. Hortman quickly agreed with Sen. Gazelka. Later in the show, former DFL State Party Chair Brian Melendez complimented Sen. Gazelka and Rep. Hortman before stating his optimism that their exchange showed that a deal might be reached this session.

I’d like to think that there’s hope but I’m not optimistic about it. IMO, there are 2 people standing in the way of getting something positive done. One of the people that will likely try jamming things up is Paul Thissen. I’m certain that he’s running for governor. If he runs, I’m confident that he’ll run a scorched earth campaign, criticizing Republicans for not getting anything done.

While I’m confident that Rep. Thissen will play the obstructionist card frequently, I’m certain that Gov. Dayton will continue with his hissy fits. The opening paragraphs of David Montgomery’s article say it all:

There was so little trust left between DFL Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt by Friday that the two leaders wouldn’t agree to meet in private as they tried to salvage a package of bills to cut taxes, build roads and water projects and help people struggling with health insurance premiums.

Instead, the two sat down in front of television cameras to try to salvage a deal they’d been fighting over in various forms since May. The cameras didn’t help. After just 17 minutes of accusations and arguments, both Dayton and Daudt walked out of the room, unable to agree.

It’s obviously a very disappointing outcome,” Dayton said afterwards.

Gov. Dayton’s quote is a lie, at least from his perspective. Gov. Dayton hasn’t wanted to work in good faith with Republicans. He stated it matter-of-factly in multiple op-eds by asking voters to give him DFL majorities in the Minnesota House and Senate. (Instead, Minnesotans gave him GOP majorities in the House and Senate.)

Let’s be clear about this. Gov. Dayton is an obstructionist at heart. He’s shut down state government twice. The first time, it’s possible to argue it was the Republicans’ fault. It isn’t a strong argument but it’s an argument. The other time, though, it’s all on Gov. Dayton. Gov. Dayton vetoed bills from a bipartisan budget agreement negotiated by Speaker Daudt and then-Senate Majority Leader Bakk. (It’s worth noting that Rep. Thissen sabotaged both negotiated agreements.) It wouldn’t be surprising if Gov. Dayton shut down the government again this summer. He’s done it before. He apparently thinks that it’s the only way he’s relevant in the budget process. This is Gov. Dayton’s definition of good faith negotiating:

Daudt accused Dayton of breaking the early-December deal earlier this week, when he unveiled proposed language for all three potential special session bills. The proposed infrastructure bill, Daudt said, took away Republican priorities without harming any of Dayton’s own.

It’s time, after 6 long years of the Dayton administration, to call him what he is. Gov. Dayton is Minnesota’s Obstructionist-in-Chief.

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Speaker Kurt Daudt’s letter to Gov. Dayton calls out Gov. Dayton for shifting the goalposts after months of negotiations. In his letter to Gov. Dayton, Speaker Daudt wrote “At our December 2 meeting, we agreed to empower our members and your commissioners who know these subject matters best. Per that framework, our issue area experts have been meeting almost daily with either members of your administration or legislators from the other three caucuses. I am thankful for their continued effort towards reaching consensus. Your letter Tuesday outlining new additions to the bonding bill and drastic changes to the tax bill showed a significant departure from the progress I thought we had made.”

Speaker Daudt didn’t stop there. Later, he said “This week you took a step backward, undoing months of work by all parties. Projects that were set aside long ago have reemerged in your new proposal. For example, six months ago we agreed to not pursue MSOP Phase 2, but you are now demanding that project along with items never before included in your requests or discussions like Gateway Corridor BRT. You also wrote your intention is to use Appropriation Bonds for your requests which have much higher interest rates than General Obligation Bonds and therefore a greater cost to Minnesota taxpayers. Lastly, in your new proposal for the transportation portion of the bonding bill you preserve earmarks for your projects while stripping out our priorities that are immediately awaiting funding.”

Gov. Dayton’s bad-faith negotiating shows his true character. Actually, it’s proof of Gov. Dayton’s lack of character. Why did Gov. Dayton change things this dramatically this late in the process? Is this another of Gov. Dayton’s childish hissy fits? Is it proof that he’s a spoiled brat that thinks he can do whatever he wants without consequences? If it’s the latter, I’d suggest he look at the results of the 2016 election. His actions definitely had negative consequences for the DFL.

Minnesotans hoping for health insurance premium relief or property tax relief won’t take kindly to Gov. Dayton withdrawing support for negotiated proposals, then replacing those negotiated provisions with last-minute provisions. That’s the definition of bad faith negotiating.

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It’s nice to throw in a healthy dose of sarcasm when talking about MNsure. Without it, people might get frustrated. This LTE highlights how dysfunctional MNsure is.

The Dayton administration insists that MNsure is working just fine. For instance, “MNsure CEO Allison O’Toole said the exchange ‘has improved significantly every year’ and predicted that ‘trend will continue again this year.'”

That’s news to Olmsted County. They’ve had “to hire five people to handle eligibility processing manually because the automated system is so profoundly broken.” MNsure is dysfunctional. Premiums are skyrocketing. Deductibles are sky-high. Thoughtful people looking at those realities shake their heads and think that people defending MNsure/Obamacare are political hacks.

That’s before factoring in the fact that a month’s insurance premium costs more than the annual penalty. That’s before factoring in the $13,000 deductible that many families’ policies come with. Given those details, why would healthy people purchase health insurance? They’re literally thousands of dollars better off taking their chances.

Seriously, there’s virtually nothing to like about MNsure or the ACA. To borrow an old cribbage phrase, the best way to throw that hand is away. MNsure is crap, which is why it needs to be shit-canned.

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There’s been lots of celebrating on the Range after Resolution 54 got defeated Saturday. This article said that Jason Metsa thinks that the vote is “a clear indication of where the party is at.” Then Metsa admitted that “the issue will be coming up again.”

First, the Range DFL survived Saturday, partially because all parts of the state were represented at the meeting. Anyone that thinks that John Marty will give up his anti-mining crusade anytime soon is kidding themselves. New incoming House Minority Leader Melissa Hortman hasn’t announce that she’ll take a more centrist, pro-mining position now that she’s the top-ranking Democrat in the House.

That’s before talking about whether organizations like the Sierra Club, MCEA or Conservation Minnesota (which gets significant funding from Alida Messenger) will stop bringing lawsuits against PolyMet. MCEA’s mission is to file lawsuit after lawsuit against mining companies or utilities. Winning the lawsuits isn’t MCEA’s goal. Their goal is to wear down the investors until those investors quit. I wrote about that tactic in this post, which I titled Attrition, not litigation.

Third, defeating Resolution 54 isn’t a victory because it didn’t approve a single permit for PolyMet or Twin Metals. The last I looked, Gov. Dayton hasn’t relented in saying no to the initial permits for the Twin Metals mining project.

Fourth, the DFL hasn’t lifted a finger to streamline the permitting process. I won’t trust them until they support permitting reform and regulatory relief. Even then, I’ll remain skeptical because these guys won’t permit the DFL to do real reforms:

The lede in this article sounds a triumphant tone. The opening says “Labor Democrats decided to fight Saturday and won a major victory for the party’s future on the Iron Range.” While it’s a procedural victory for the Range, it isn’t a major victory if you’re judging it by whether anything changed as a result of the vote.

In defeating Resolution 54, the Range Delegation kept the language of the resolution out of the DFL state party platform. That shouldn’t be mistaken for defeating the environmental activist Metrocrats. It shouldn’t be mistaken as proof that Gov. Dayton will approve any permits for PolyMet. Defeating Resolution 54 doesn’t mean that the DFL is suddenly open to mining.

The DFL loves bogging things down with regulations, regulators and lawsuit. The thing Iron Rangers should ask themselves seems unrelated at first. This past winter, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC)decided to look into the Sandpiper Pipeline project. Specifically, they took jurisdiction over whether the pipeline path should be rerouted. The first question that should be asked is straightforward: what does the agency that regulates electricity rates have to do with infrastructure permitting? It isn’t like the PUC was the first regulatory agency to review the Sandpiper Pipeline’s potential impact on its environment. The point is that the PUC took jurisdiction to hinder the permitting process.

Here’s another important question that the DFL hasn’t answered: why didn’t Gov. Dayton scream bloody murder when the PUC hijacked jurisdiction on the Sandpiper Pipeline project? In 2013-14, when the DFL had total control of the legislature and had a friendly DFL governor to work with, why didn’t they streamline the permitting process? Might it be because they prefer a permitting process that’s complex and convoluted?

Ask PolyMet’s investors whether these DFL-supporting organizations haven’t used the same tactics to kill PolyMet. If they’re being honest, they’d say that’s the exact playbook that’s been used against them. Until the pro-mining part of the DFL becomes the dominant part of the DFL or until pro-mining voters switch to the GOP, there won’t be a change in the outcome. Saturday’s vote was all show. In the real world, it meant nothing. The anti-mining wing of the DFL still rules the DFL.

Now that Resolution 54 has been defeated and labor leaders are experiencing a mini-Kumbaya moment, it’s time to examine what the Iron Range won yesterday. I’ll return to that in a bit but it’s important to set this up properly.

Rick Nolan apparently gave a speech that set the mood for the vote, saying “Nobody loves the environment more than the Rangers. I don’t want to see the party take a stance against mining or agriculture or manufacturing.”

What’s important to notice about Saturday, though, is that that was a show vote. In yesterday’s setting, Democrats from rural Minnesota had a voice. All parts of the state had a voice. That dynamic changes dramatically in January. Does anyone seriously think that the Sierra Club will suddenly stop demagoguing “sulfide mining”? Will the MCEA stop filing lawsuits aimed at killing PolyMet? Will Minnesota’s Public Utilities Commission stop meddling in pipeline construction projects?

The answer to each of those questions is an emphatic ‘NO!’

Most importantly, it isn’t likely that Gov. Dayton’s administration will grant PolyMet the permits it needs so PolyMet can start growing the Iron Range’s economy. The final analysis of Saturday’s vote is this: while Environmental Caucus Chair Veda Kanitz and her supporters claim to have extended an olive branch to the Iron Range yesterday, it isn’t likely that environmental activist organizations like the Sierra Club, Nature Conservancy, MCEA and Conservation Minnesota will suddenly start fighting fair.

These organizations aren’t mainstream organizations. They’ve got an anti-mining, anti-fossil fuel agenda. It’s worth noting that the DFL, as a political party, still supports shifting to renewable energy. Renewable energy won’t sustain mining operations.

Notice whose names are missing in this paragraph:

While tabling the resolution gained momentum, an impassioned Congressman Rick Nolan, DFL-Crosby, roused the crowd in the auditorium with a plea to truly unite by not taking a stance against the issue. Nolan was speaking on behalf of Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Sen. Al Franken and Congressman Tim Walz.

Missing from that paragraph are Mark Dayton and Tina Flint-Smith. Their silence is deafening.

The Iron Range won a minor skirmish yesterday. The thrill of that victory will soon fade. Organizations like the Sierra Club, Nature Conservancy, MCEA and Conservation Minnesota are in this for the long haul. Celebrate now because the battle is just starting.

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In the fight between home-based PCAs and the SEIU, the Bureau of Mediation Services, aka BMS, “has ordered the suspension of contract talks between the Service Employees International Union representing personal care attendants and state negotiators to avoid interfering with a union decertification campaign underway.”

This is a major victory for the PCAs because it protects against the SEIU negotiating a CBA with the state. The whole purpose of the PCA’s decertification drive is to prevent them from dealing with the SEIU.

The system has been rigged against the PCAs from the start. The Dayton administration has repeatedly refused to turn over an updated list of PCAs to the PCAs seeking decertification. Carol Clifford, a BMS Representation Specialist, wrote “This Order is issued to preserve existing conditions and promote a free and fair environment for the resolution of this question of representation. It shall remain in full force and effect until an investigation and/or hearing has been conducted and the matter is disposed of by a determination issued by the Commissioner of the Bureau of Mediation Services.”

“This is significant because if the SEIU and Dayton administration sign a new contract, it’s possible our petition for a new union election would be defeated,” said Kim Crockett, Vice-President at Center of the American Experiment, a supporter of the decertification drive. “Everything we’ve done might be thrown out and we wouldn’t be able to start a new campaign for two years.”

If there is a decertification vote, it won’t be close. The decertify PCAs will win in a landslide. With that, the SEIU will lose out on approximately $4,700,000 worth of dues each year.

The only reason why the SEIU wants the PCAs in their union is to play a larger role in DFL campaigns. This doesn’t have anything to do with making life better for the PCAs or the people they care for. It’s totally about political power.

It isn’t a secret that Democrats aren’t fans of government reform. They’ve been the defenders of the status quo for years. Hillary Clinton was their presidential nominee. Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi are the faces of Senate and House Democrats. This trio of fossils aren’t mistaken for having fresh ideas. If they don’t want to be politically irrelevant, they need new management and fresh, appealing ideas.

In Minnesota, the DFL is slightly ahead of the game compared with the DNC. Still, they’re too reliant on cronyism. That’s what this article highlights.

Cronyism is the name of the game that Ted Mondale and Michelle Kelm-Helgen played with U.S. Bank Stadium suites. According to multiple reports, “Kelm-Helgen and Mondale, two government employees, control access to two lower-level luxury ‘Norseman Suites’ for all events at the stadium in downtown Minneapolis. The MSFA controls 36 tickets per game and the agency also got a nearly identical number of free parking spaces in the surface lot used by Vikings players.” That’s just the tip of the U.S. Bank Stadium iceberg. There’s more:

Kelm-Helgen and Mondale said they and the four MSFA commissioners use the suites to host potential clients who are looking to rent all or portions of the stadium, which opened in August. But they also acknowledge they regularly invite friends and family to the suites.

The two say they can’t reveal the identities of their guests because that would hinder their marketing efforts. However, they did release the identities of 12 current and former public officials who reimbursed the authority $200 for their tickets to the suite.

Here’s the description of what’s included in the Norseman Suites:

Norseman Lounge Suites
Highly exclusive 10 person Suites located between the 20 yard line and the end line just 36 rows from the field. Each Suite comes with access to the exclusive Lounge directly behind the Suite featuring a private bar and all-inclusive upscale food offerings, VIP parking, other event access, away game trips and much more. (NEWLY DESIGNED, ONLY 15 BUILT)

ABOUT THE NORSEMAN LOUNGE SUITES        
• 36 Rows from the Field
• Side End zone – 20 yard line
• 6 fixed and 4 drink rail chairs with view to the field
• All-inclusive, unlimited beer, wine, high end food and non-alcoholic beverages
• Private/ Elite Lounge access
• 1 Annual Suite Holder Event on the field
• Super Bowl Access
• Away game road trips
• Access to other events
EXCLUSIVE SUITE BENEFITS       
• VIP Parking Passes in a ramp in close proximity to the Stadium
• All-inclusive food and beverage package with a full-service concierge staff
• Participation in Team-arranged away road trips at points during the term of your Suite Agreement (limited to two (2) persons)
• The opportunity to purchase a to-be-determined number of Super Bowl tickets (not Suite tickets) in any year the Vikings participate in the Super Bowl or the Super Bowl is held at the new Stadium

Frankly, it’s disgusting that Kelm-Helgen and Mondale insist that they “can’t reveal the identities of their guests because that would hinder their marketing efforts.” That’s spin for saying ‘giving out that list would be politically embarrassing.’

I’d say that some DFL (sense of) entitlement reform is required.

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