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Today marks LFR’s 12th blogiversary. When I started blogging, social media didn’t really exist to any large extent. Twitter wars hadn’t started. We certainly didn’t have Twitchy chronicling the provocative things people said on Twitter. In fact, Twitter didn’t take off until Nancy Pelosi shut down the House of Representatives rather than vote on the Republicans’ all-of-the-above energy program. In fact, that’s why I wrote this post. John Culberson, a Republican member of the House, used Twitter to get the word out about the Republicans’ protest of Pelosi’s strong-arm tactics. When Pelosi turned off the microphones, Rep. Culberson started texting people to tell them of Ms. Pelosi’s strong-arm tactics. Then he took to Twitter.

I started blogging because the so-called MSM wasn’t interested in supplying important information to the people. I hoped that bloggers would create the competition that would force the MSM to start doing their job. Obviously, that hasn’t happened. If anything, it’s gotten worse. The MSM quickly transformed into the Agenda Media, a phrase I coined years before Rush coined the phrase ‘Drive-By Media’. I still think my phrase is a better fit.

LFR’s pledge to you is that I’ll continue to hold people’s feet to the fire. I’ll continue writing about institutional corruption, whether it’s found at MnSCU headquarters or whether it’s when the Dayton administration rigs union organizing elections.

I’m proud that I’ve helped win several elections, including two State Senate races and one congressional race this year. I’ll pledge to keep pressure on the DFL until they fix Minnesota’s health care crisis, too. They broke it. Unfortunately, they’ve refused to fix it. The good news is that Republicans are prepared to fix it. The incoming Trump administration will do its part. Greg Davids, Matt Dean and others will fix what’s broken with Minnesota’s problems.

During the 2017 session, I hope to expand LFR coverage of the legislative session by taking occasional trips to the Capitol, especially around the deadlines. With Gov. Dayton expecting to dig in his heels, especially on health care, this session will be one of the most eventful sessions in history.

Those trips will cost money so consider this my appeal for sponsorships. If you’re interested in sponsoring these trips, contact me by leaving a comment. I will contact you via email. Consider this the official start of my quarterly bleg.

Some things have changed since I started blogging. Over the next year, LFR will be changing, too. Stay tuned for those developments. What hasn’t changed is the need to hold politicians’ feet to the fire. I’m hoping to do that for another dozen years or more.

Finally, thank you to all of the loyal readers of LFR. I’m proud of the fact that LFR has become one of the legislators’ most read news sources.

I wrote this post to highlight Gov. Dayton’s fearmongering on the MNsure/ACA reform. This weekend, he said “It’s a great political slogan. I think it had a major impact on some of the legislative races. But it’s another thing to deal with the reality of what you put in its place. They better look before they push us over the cliff.”

In the post, I replied “Gov. Dayton, quit with the fearmongering. Nobody’s talking about anything radical. In fact, Matt Dean, the chair of the House HHS Finance Committee and a member of the House HHS Reform Committee, ‘said Minnesota should replace the Affordable Care Act with its old approach, a high-risk pool to cover ill and expensive consumers who previously couldn’t get health insurance.'”

The truth is that the only thing that Gov. Dayton and the DFL have proposed thus far to ‘fix’ MNsure is a one-time bailout of people making too much to qualify for federal subsidies. Both sides agree that that’s necessary in the short-term. That isn’t controversial but it isn’t the complete fix for Minnesota’s health insurance crisis, either.

Medica has reached its self-imposed limits of policies sold through the individual markets. One-time rebates won’t fix that. This article highlights the problem facing hundreds of Minnesota families:

Medica has hit its enrollment cap for those buying through the MNsure state-run exchange, meaning only one option for people in dozens of Greater Minnesota counties who want to switch to a new health plan.

In those counties, the only option left is Blue Plus, which is the most expensive plan offered. Gov. Dayton and the DFL haven’t proposed a single solution to these families’ situation. By definition, isn’t not proposing a plan that fixes these families’ situation is the equivalent of pushing these families off a financial cliff?

It’s worth noting that there’s no need to wait. The caps were agreed to by the Dayton administration. That means this is a Minnesota-only problem. It requires a fix from Minnesota’s politicians.

It’s clear that Republicans are leading on this issue. Greg Davids, the chair of the House Taxes Committee, put forward the outline for MNsure/ACA reform. Chairman Davids’ proposal includes fixing things like cost, accessibility, families keeping their doctors and providing families more options in terms of more insurers in all parts of the state.

Gov. Dayton and the DFL are one-trick ponies. They haven’t proposed fixing anything. They’ve proposed maintaining the status quo. That isn’t leadership. That’s political cowardice, coupled with the DFL’s usual dose of demagoguery.

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This article highlights the difficult position Gov. Dayton and the DFL painted themselves into when they created MNsure while enthusiastically praising the ACA. Now that health insurance premiums sold on the individual market have increased by up to 67% this year after increasing by up to 54% last year, it isn’t difficult convincing Minnesota farmers that they need something different. They’re already demanding change.

Gov. Dayton is attempting to sound tough when he said “It’s a great political slogan. I think it had a major impact on some of the legislative races. But it’s another thing to deal with the reality of what you put in its place. They better look before they push us over the cliff.”

Gov. Dayton, quit with the fearmongering. Nobody’s talking about anything radical. In fact, Matt Dean, the chair of the House HHS Finance Committee and a member of the House HHS Reform Committee, “said Minnesota should replace the Affordable Care Act with its old approach, a high-risk pool to cover ill and expensive consumers who previously couldn’t get health insurance.” Before the ACA, Minnesota’s uninsured rate was 7.2% in 2007. Of those that didn’t have insurance, 50% of them were eligible for taxpayer-subsidized health insurance, meaning Minnesota’s effective uninsured rate was a spectacular 96.4%. I can’t wait to hear Gov. Dayton explain how maintaining a 96.4% insured rate is the equivalent of pushing people “over the cliff.” Then again, the Democrats’ Agenda Project shadow group, did put this disgustingly dishonest ad together:

With Democrats, the only thing we shouldn’t expect is them doing the right thing the first time.

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Matt Dean, the chair of the House Health and Human Services Finance Committee, has an op-ed in today’s Pioneer Press that outlines MNsure’s multitude of problems. Chairman Dean starts his op-ed off by saying “Imagine a huge summer storm blows the roof off every family home and farm in Rochester, St. Cloud and Duluth. Would anyone say, ‘Only 250,000 are impacted, and 95 percent of the state is fine, so it’s not a real emergency?'”

That’s just the start. In his op-ed, Chairman Dean identified multiple problems with the ACA, starting with Dean’s statement that “The only uncapped product is Blue Cross Plus, which offers narrow networks. Blue Plus is not offered for Benton, Crow Wing, Mille Lacs, Morrison and Stearns counties. That means that in those five counties, once the caps have been met, there is no way to buy insurance that is now legally required.”

Until now, Gov. Dayton and the DFL have talked only about rebates to ease the sting of high ACA premiums. Those rebates are certainly important in fixing part of the ACA’s problems but they won’t fix everything that’s wrong with the ACA. This paragraph highlights another problem with the ACA:

Even if folks do sign up and get a plan, they will learn what a “narrower network” means. You might have to drive by your old doctor’s office and your town’s hospital and travel to another town for care. Patients will lose their doctors, and access to a major provider like Essentia in Northeast Minnesota. In September, I met a mom whose 12-year-old son is being treated at Mayo for two brain tumors. She can’t take him there anymore because no policy she can buy will pay for it, and she doesn’t know what to do.

I just spoke with a loyal reader of LFR whose family lives in northern Minnesota. I confirmed that networks up there are tiny to the point that some people’s hometown hospitals aren’t in their networks. Yesterday, I read a sarcastic comment that the best thing about the ACA is that it eliminated the need for picking between which insurance company they’d prefer to purchase. On the serious side, it’s heartbreaking to hear about this woman’s crisis.

Republicans aren’t just complaining about MNsure and the ACA. They’re offering solutions to these problems at townhall meetings like this one:

Chairman Dean offered this solution in his op-ed:

We must reconnect Minnesota patients with the best care in the world. To do that, we need to strengthen the private insurance market by resuscitating the ability of consumers to buy insurance plans for 2017. That will mean that we need to offer direct consumer assistance and more choices for people who are buying plans right now. We can’t take no for an answer from the feds who stuck us with this awful thing, and frankly they should pay for it.

Longer term, we must admit that MNsure needs to go. MNsure was envisioned to serve the very people it is hurting most: those Minnesotans unprotected by a big company plan or a government program.
We need to replace it with what worked in Minnesota. We need to re-establish our nation-leading coverage plan for high-cost enrollees and offer support to the private market, not unfair competition by a bankrupting “middle-class Medicaid” plan to drive private insurance out of our state.

In an exclusive interview with LFR, Matt Dean has confirmed that he’s thinking about running for the seat left open by Michele Bachmann’s retirement.

While Jim Graves, the DFL and the DCCC are undoubtedly happy that Minnesota’s Sixth District is now an open seat, they shouldn’t think that this will be an easy seat to win. Matt Dean is a formidable candidate. First, he’s got a good understanding of the Sixth District. He’s participated in townhall meetings throughout the District, including in St. Cloud. Second, his message is a great fit for the Sixth District. Third, Matt’s got the ability to work across the aisle without sacrificing his principles:

A commendable thing happened last week after the Minnesota House failed to override Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s veto of the bill preserving General Assistance Medical Care (GAMC) for the very poor: The two House members leading their respective parties’ efforts on the matter, DFL Rep. Erin Murphy and GOP Rep. Matt Dean, just kept working.

Constructively, too. On Friday, a deal was struck that has the blessing of the Legislature’s top leaders in both parties. It’s expected to go to the full House and Senate this week.

That praise was written by Lori Sturdevant, one of the most openly liberal writers at the Strib. It’s important to note that the compromise was built on conservative principles.

Third, he’s got a great understanding of two issues that are important to the Sixth District: health care and education. Fourth, he’s got a track record of being the taxpayers’ watchdog:

House Majority Leader Matt Dean (R-Dellwood) is doing his own inquiry into how the Minneapolis Public Schools spends it money after reading this Star Tribune report. The story revealed Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson’s decision to award $270,000 in retroactive raises to central office administrators at the same time the district cut more than 100 jobs including 52 teaching positions.

Rep. Dean started this investigation right after a long, tough legislative session. He saw money being spent foolishly so he started an investigation into the mismanagement.

The Sixth District needs a congressman a) whose principles are solidly conservative and b) who pays attention to the details on whether government is doing its job or if it’s failing the people.

If Rep. Dean decides to jump in, I suspect that announcement will come sooner rather than later.

UPDATE: Welcome Powerline readers. Follow this link for more information on the early shape of the race.

Rep. King Banaian’s Friday night townhall meeting started with opening statements from Rep. Banaian and House Majority Leader Matt Dean. It was followed by a pair of questions about whether the bonding bill would include money for affordable housing.

During his presentation, Majority Leader Dean talked about his conversation with a businessman who wants to invest $300,000,000 in Minnesota in the context of the importance of reforming Minnesota’s permitting system. He said that the businessman was thankful for the 2 permitting reform bills passed.

Then the businessman said that Gov. Mitch Daniels, (R-IN), just signed a permitting reform bill. The bottom line is that he’d be up and running in six months in Indiana. It would take five months to get the permits in Minnesota.

That’s before talking about the costs involved in waiting in Minnesota. Then there’s the higher taxes Minnesota businesses pay.

The last 40 minutes of the meeting focused on photo ID-related issues. One woman asked why a person would commit voter fraud knowing that they could get caught and put in jail.

That’s been popping up in the DFL’s arguments quite a bit lately. It’s a flimsy question. There’s a huge prison sentence in most states if a person commits second degree murder. Despite the fact that there’s a huge penalty, people still commit murders.

One gentleman identified himself as an election worker. He said he’s been working elections a long time. He said he hasn’t seen voter fraud yet. St. Cloud City Councilman Jeff Johnson highlighted the fact that there was something in the newspaper about someone getting convicted of voter fraud in St. Cloud recently.

I got to ask the final question. I said that I recently wrote an article in which a worker at the Scott County Gov’t Center admitted that voter fraud happens. She then admitted that people who get prosecuted for voter fraud still have their votes counted:

INVESTIGATOR: So that’s it? It’s just kind of the honor system?

WORKER: Yes, I guess, it’s, I mean, it’s been that way for many, many years, that, you know, Minnesota’s been an after-the-fact type of state. And, now, we do catch people, that do things, and they’re investigated and charged. But it is, you know, after-the-fact.

By the time voter fraud is detected, the ballot will have been counted. What’s worse than that admission is her dismissive attitude:

My election judges have a difficult time with that. It’s like “Change the law. Change the law.”

King quickly summarized, saying that there were 11,000 votes cast in his race, which he won by 13 votes. He told the attendees that 13 votes is statistically insignificant compared with 11,000 votes.

The other major topic of discussion brought up during the meeting was the need for higher education reform. Councilman Johnson approached the subject by saying that he’s been pleased with how elected officials stay in touch with their constituents through townhall meetings.

He then asked Majority Leader Dean and Rep. Banaian if they could name the MnSCU trustee representing the Sixth District. Finally, he said that he knew of no instances where any of the trustees had held a townhall meeting or met with a business roundtable to see what their needs or concerns were.

The point, he said, was that the Board of Trustees wasn’t staying in touch with the people they’re supposed to represent.

During yesterday’s Rules Committee hearing on HF2738, DFL Rep. Norton asked some questions that HF2738 Chief Auther Rep. Kiffmeyer answered. Here’s a partial transcript of their exchange:

REP. NORTON: As I looked at the bill, it seems to me that, if you show up same day voting, you’re going to have to be verified if you don’t have photo ID. How will that happen?
REP. KIFFMEYER: In regards to same day voting, first of all, there will be a very strong voter education effort, mailings, hotlines, working with Catholic Charities, Lutheran Social Services. I’m confident that if this passes the voters, that we will enact it in a bipartisan fashion to make sure that we are inclusive to get every single voter to get them the ID. I’m confident, Rep. Norton, that we will work together to do that, that there will be no disenfranchisement.
REP. NORTON: Mr. Chairman, the question still hasn’t been…If a person comes and wants to vote on the same day and they do not have ID, how will you make certain that we will continue with that strong voter turnout? What will the process be for that voter?
REP. KIFFMEYER: In regards to that, starting first of all with the voter education campaign, making it very clear concerted effort. If, after all of that, if on election day, they still do not have their voter ID, they will be able to cast a provisional ballot.
REP. NORTON: That is a concern to me and a concern to many voters who want their vote counted on the day of the election.

Rep. Norton’s last statement is troubling. Provisional balloting has been federal law since 2002. HAVA, aka the Help America Vote Act, received overwhelming bipartisan support:

A bill to require States and localities to meet uniform and nondiscriminatory election technology and administration requirements applicable to Federal elections, to establish grant programs to provide assistance to States and localities to met those requirements and to improve election technology and the administration of Federal elections, to establish the Election Administration Commission, and for other purposes.
Vote Counts:
YEAs: 92
NAYs: 2
Not Voting: 6

A substantive U.S. Senate bill that gets 92 votes has strong bipartisan support. The only senators voting against HAVA were Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton. Even Mark Dayton voted for provisional ballots. The system has been in place since the 2004 election. It’s been praised by Republicans and Democrats alike. Why would Rep. Norton have a problem with provisional ballots?

In going through the audio for the Rules Committee hearing, Rep. John Benson’s statement jumped off the page. Here’s what he said:

REP. JOHN BENSON: Just a comment first. Constitutional amendments should be bipartisan and so I think that’s one of the biggest problems I have. We have a proposal here which is very partisan and usually, constitutional amendments have more broad support.

That statement is infuriating. Photo ID has overwhelming bipartisan support. It just doesn’t have broad bipartisan legislative support. That’s a major distinction that can’ be ignored.

It’s a major distinction because rank-and-file Democrats support the bill by a 59%-41% margin. In fact, as I wrote here, Photo ID has overwhelming support across the political spectrum:

Party affiliation – Yes, 92% of Republicans support voter ID. So do 76% of independents…and 59% of those wingnutty Democrats in Minnesota, too.

I’ve said it before and I’ll repeat it again. If the DFL wants to ignore their constituents while obeying their special interest masters, that’s their right, at least until the next election.

The most contentious moment in the hearing came when Rep. Thissen threw a hissy fit. Here’s that exchange:

REP. THISSEN: I did want to follow up on one answer you gave previously. Ccan you just tell me — I don’t need alot of sentences, just kind of short answers that answers the question — what on an ID — what’s going to be on an ID that’s going to be on the poll book that Rep. Norton is talking about? … So I’m wondering what you’re expecting to see that isn’t going to be in this electronic poll book with pictures because you’ve kinda said “Well, it’s different.” I’d just like you to explain it to me, and you don’t have to use alot of words. I just want to know what you’re looking for in addition to what’s in this poll book that’s going to be on an ID.
REP. KIFFMEYER: First of all, a photo alone is an unreliable…
REP. THISSEN: It’s not photo alone…
REP. DEAN: Rep. Thissen, Rep. Kiffmeyer is trying to answer your question. If you would simply allow her to answer your question with the respect she deserves, Rep. Thissen…

Rep. Thissen’s spoiled brat routine is getting tiresome. Most importantly, it’s mostly a contrived act. It’s time Rep. Thissen started acting like a leader, not a high school punk.

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DFL politicians consistently say Photo ID doesn’t have bipartisan support. It’s true that Photo ID doesn’t have bipartisan legislative support. That doesn’t mean rank-and-file Democrats don’t support Photo ID. It just means DFL politicians aren’t listening to their constituents.

Rep. John Benson is the latest DFL politician making the claim:

Democrats argued against inserting political policy in the constitution. “Constitutional amendments ought to be bipartisan. This one is very partisan,” said Rep. John Benson, DFL-Minnetonka.

I wrote here that Photo ID has bipartisan support:

Party affiliation – Yes, 92% of Republicans support voter ID. So do 76% of independents…and 59% of those wingnutty Democrats in Minnesota, too.

With near-unanimous support amongst Republicans and three-fourths of independents, it’s impossible to claim this constitutional amendment doesn’t have bipartisan support. Even 60% of DFL voters support Photo ID.

If politicians recite the DFL’s Photo ID chanting points, they’ll lose credibility with independents, the people who decide elections.

Paul Thissen’s behavior won’t play well with independents, either:

The mood of the hearing grew unusually tense, particularly when House Majority Leader Matt Dean, R-Dellwood, ended the debate and called for a vote. House Minority Leader Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, urged Dean not to cut off the discussion.

“Representative Thissen, we’ve been discussing this amendment for 45 minutes,” Dean said.

Thissen later told Dean that he thought it was interesting that he was suppressing debate on a measure to suppress voting.

Rep. Thissen isn’t a man of integrity. He’s a punk, a partisan obstructionist and a saboteur. He isn’t honest.

Rep. Thissen knows that Photo Id doesn’t suppress voting. That’s another DFL myth about Photo ID. It doesn’t have a basis in fact. If they had proof, they wouldn’t rely on allegations.

It’s time to call Rep. Thissen out. Where’s the proof that Photo ID suppresses voter turnout? Where’s the proof that shows state and county governments can’t get drivers licenses or state ID cards to seniors, minorities and young people?

Don’t forget that allegations, whether they’re made by the Secretary of State’s office, by DFL activists or somebody else, aren’t proof.

In 2009, the DFL leadership pushed for limiting debate on bills, both in committee and on the floor. I watched that debate. Rep. Thissen didn’t lift a finger to speak out against those limitations. In 2009, Rep. Thissen fully supported silencing the minority.

If the DFL continues to ignore the vast majority of Minnesotans, that’s their option. Republican legislative candidates won’t hesitate in highlighting the DFL’s willingness to put their special interests first, their constituents last.

This paragraph is troubling:

But the effort to forge a bipartisan voter ID compromise hasn’t gained much traction. After Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed a voter ID bill last session, Republicans have made it a priority to take the issue to voters this fall. Dayton cannot veto a constitutional amendment.

The important thing to remember in this fight is that DFL politicians don’t want to do the right thing. In this instance, doing the right thing is doing what the vast majority of Minnesotans want.

Compromise isn’t a virtue if there’s overwhelming support for legislation. In this instance, an overwhelming portion of Minnesotans want Photo ID. If anyone should move, it’s the DFL. Why should the GOP move when they’re on the 76% side of a 76-18% issue?

If the DFL wants to be stubborn about Photo ID, they should prepare to pay the price for their obstructionism.

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There’s spin, then there’s professional spin and then there’s championship level spin that Katie Tinucci practices. Check this spin out:

Dayton spokeswoman Katharine Tinucci in a statement responded to the filing of the lawsuit. “The debate around unionization of family childcare providers started years before Governor Dayton was elected to office,” she said.

“By refusing to call for an election, his predecessors denied licensed, registered family child care providers the chance to decide for themselves whether or not they want to form a union. Governor Dayton believes they should have the right to make that decision.”

It’s worth noting that Gov. Pawlenty knew the legal definition of a public employee. More importantly, he didn’t disregard Minnesota state statutes on the matter. It’s apparent that Ms. Tinucci is doing everything except admitting that Gov. Dayton cares more about paying off his political allies than obeying the law.

Everyone who’s followed this law knows that this isn’t anything except Gov. Dayton’s paying off the people that got him elected.

Minnesota state statutes say that child care providers can’t be considered government employees. Eventually, we’ll find out whether Minnesota’s courts read the laws as written or whether they favor defining the law as they see fit.

The list of professions that qualify as public employees is exhaustive and straightforward. The law is tightly written. There isn’t any wiggle room in the definition. Still, AFSCME and SEIU thugs continue to argue otherwise:

Eric Lehto, organizing director for AFSCME Minnesota Council 5, called the lawsuit “frivolous.”

“Governor Dayton has legal authority to direct the Bureau of Mediation Services to conduct a union election and to determine appropriate bargaining units of child care providers. Voters in this election include only licensed, subsidized providers who have a direct financial relationship with the state of Minnesota,” Lehto said in a statement.

“If a majority of providers come together in a democratic process, Gov. Dayton will recognize their professional voice. Union membership will be voluntary and all providers will retain their constitutional right to participate in the policy making process.”

Mr. Lehto isn’t telling the whole truth. If telling the whole truth was important to Mr. Lehto, he would’ve mentioned that the child care providers that don’t get to vote on unionization will have to pay Fair Share fees to either AFSCME or the SEIU.

If Mr. Lehto put a priority on telling the truth, he would’ve mentioned that AFSCME and SEIU intend to negotiate regulations for child safety, educational materials and other things. He didn’t mention that these issues financially affect the child care providers’s that don’t get to vote on unionization but who will pay union dues.

If Gov. Dayton wants to blame anyone for the unionization vote, he needn’t look further than the mirror. If Gov. Dayton wasn’t the unions’ puppet, this vote wouldn’t be happening. If Gov. Dayton respected settled Minnesota law, this vote wouldn’t be happening.

Gov. Dayton’s letter to Speaker Zellers and Majority Leader Dean is the rant of an unhinged person. Check it out yourself:
Dayton Letter
Yes, Gov. Dayton, we think that the SEIU and AFSCME won’t hesitate to do anything if they think it’ll help them accumulate more political power. In fact, we have proof that they will.

When the Fleebagger 14 left Wisconsin rather than do what they were elected to do, AFSCME threatened businesses. They had the choice of either displaying the union sign in their window or have the unions boycott their store.

I’ve read about SEIU stormtroopers attempted to threaten a bank official:

Last Sunday, on a peaceful, sun-crisp afternoon, our toddler finally napping upstairs, my front yard exploded with 500 screaming, placard-waving strangers on a mission to intimidate my neighbor, Greg Baer. Baer is deputy general counsel for corporate law at Bank of America, a senior executive based in Washington, D.C. And that, in the minds of the organizers at the politically influential Service Employees International Union and a Chicago outfit called National Political Action, makes his family fair game.

Gov. Dayton, there’s substantial proof that PEUs do nefarious things in their quest to accumulate political power.

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I attended last night’s Reform 2.0 meeting. It’s understatement, based on what was said, to say that government is too imposing on private citizens.

For instance, Steve Rohlf, the former Zoning Administrator & Building Official for Elk River for 21 years, said that he’s been “working in the private sector doing commercial building and land development for a person who owns several car dealerships” as well as “other commercial interests.”

Mr. Rohlf typed out on a word processing document all the hoops he had to jump through while trying to turn a used car lot into a new car dealership. When Rep. Sondra Erickson asked where they’re at in the process of converting the used car lot into a new car franchise, Mr. Rohlf said “We started in March & we still don’t have everything done.”

Mr. Rohlf said that he’s familiar with the process after having served Elk River in that capacity. He admitted that there were times when he was even confused. Then Mr. Rohlf said “even city staff often seemed confused by their own processes.”

When I looked at Mr. Rohlf’s recommendations, one recommendation stood out from all the rest: “Require those who draft rules have expertise in what’s being regulated or at least get input from people who have expertise.”

That seems so obvious that it shouldn’t require a private citizen to make that recommendation. That should be the expectation.

Mr. Rohlf said that the regulations on lighting cost him an additional $50,000. The original plans called for 700-watt light bulb but that had to be scrapped because of regulations limiting bulbs to be 400-watts or less. That increased the price of lighting from $175,000 to $230,500.

The amount of light on the showroom lot is exactly the same but the regulations cost him an additional $54,500.

House Majority Leader Matt Dean attended and took notes. Leader Dean said that they’ve “held 21 Reform 2.0 meetings around the state” prior to last night’s meeting. Dean noted that they’ve “gotten over 350 great ideas” from those meetings.

Dean noted that people at all levels of government “know that government has to change” and that “[the executive branch] wants to partner with [the legislature]” on those changes.

Local businessman Bob Feuling talked about his audit by state auditors. The chief auditor told him he still owed $400,000 in backtaxes, penalties and interest before the audit began. Months later, he wrote them a check “for $1,400.” Bob Feuling then stunned the gathering by saying that it cost the state almost $150,000 to conduct the audit and that it cost him $70,000 to contest the audit’s conclusions.

Rep. King Banaian said that the biggest disgrace in the matter was that they’d gone after an honest person like Bob Feuling. He then said that they’re scrapping this auditing system in favor of implementing a system of tax analytics.

Rep. Steve Gottwalt said “I met an hour today with a county commissioner. I got a lot of great ideas on how to get government off their backs.” Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer said that they’re working on a way to make sure businesses get the opportunity to testify on rules being made by executive branch agencies.

Rep. Kiffmeyer said that rulemaking was almost like another legislative process without the deliberations. Leader Dean said that regulations have exploded during his time in the legislature.

Leader Dean said that we have to be more competitive with business climate issues. He talked about a California-based company that decided to abandon California because California is an economic mess. They hired a company to do research into possible relocation sites.

At the presentation, the site location report listed 100 cities that met the company’s criteria. Sadly, Dean said, “there wasn’t a Minnesota city on the list.”

Dean then said that “Increasingly, we’re losing companies to Texas & Florida.” He said that “when Gov. Dayton talks about raising taxes” on “the rich”, companies like DigiKey, “which employs 2,300 people in a city of 7,000 people”, know that they wouldn’t hire people if their taxes got raised because DigiKey pays their taxes as an individual.

One gentleman in the audience said that the state needs to raise revenue without raising taxes. Rep. Gottwalt noted that the November forecast last year “called for a $6,200,000,000 deficit. After DC extended the Bush tax cuts, an additional $1,000,000,000 in revenue flowed into the state’s coffers.”

This was a serious audience. They still had more ideas for reform that they wanted to express but they couldn’t last night because the library was shutting down for the night.

There’s no doubt but that businesses are thirsty for changes in how government does business.

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