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Had Donald Trump given the speech that Donald Trump Jr. gave at the Republican National Convention, the party would’ve been united by mid-February and Donald Trump Sr. would’ve locked up the nomination on March 1. The GOP presidential nominee spent most of his time projecting an image of strength. Tuesday night, Donald Trump, Jr., projected strength and policy expertise that his father hasn’t shown yet.

Early in his speech, Donald Trump Jr. said “The other party gave us public schools that far too often fail our students, especially those who have no options. Growing up, my siblings and I we were truly fortunate to have choices and options that others don’t have. We want all Americans to have those same opportunities.” The crowd immediately responded with enthusiastic applause.

The applause got louder when Trump Jr. said “Our schools used to be an elevator to the middle class, now they’re stalled on the ground floor. They’re like Soviet-era department stores that are run for the benefit of the clerks and not the customers, for the teachers and the administrators and not the students. You know why other countries do better on K through 12? They let parents choose where to send their own children to school. That’s called competition. It’s called the free market. And it’s what the other party fears.”

That was just the start of the policies Mr. Trump Jr. rolled out. The next policy goal was hard-hitting if you read Mr. Trump Jr.’s speech:

The other party gave us a regulatory state on steroids. Dodd-Frank was a thousand pages long and it’s already spun off 22,000 pages in regulations. Imagine trying to digest all that before you even open your doors for business. That doesn’t help consumers. What it does is destroy small business in favor of big businesses who can afford the vast number of lawyers and accountants needed to comply. Dodd-Frank is consumer protection for billionaires.

If Donald Trump Sr. puts Donald Trump Jr. in charge of making speeches explaining how regulators kill jobs, Mrs. Clinton won’t be able to fight that, especially in Rust Belt states, the Midwest and in the Mountain West.

Then Donald Jr. took a machete after Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy/national security credentials:

Let me tell you something about risk. If Hillary Clinton were elected, she’d be the first president who couldn’t pass a basic background check. It’s incredible.

If Donald Jr. wants a career in politics, it’s easy seeing him succeeding. Tuesday night, he fired up the crowd while telling the nation watching on TV what a Trump agenda would look like.

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A little over a week ago, the St. Cloud Times published my LTE in which I talked about how Speaker Daudt challenged Rep. Thissen. Specifically, I wrote that Thissen accused Republicans of throwing “controversial provisions into big bills right at the end” of session. Unwilling to let Rep. Thissen’s spin go unchallenged, Speaker Daudt asked him to name some specific controversial provisions that Republicans threw into big budget bills at the end of the 2015 session.

Rather than respond substantively, Rep. Thissen repeated the accusation.

Later, I wrote that “Tim Kelly, the chairman of the House Transportation Committee, wrote an op-ed saying that the next transportation plan Thissen submits ‘will be his first.'” I also said that it’s “a disgrace that the DFL would pick a dishonest man to lead them in the House.” I finished by saying that the DFL agenda is “all criticism and no solutions.” I must’ve gotten under Rep. Thissen’s skin with that. Earlier this week, the Times published Rep. Thissen’s op-ed.

Rep. Thissen’s op-ed addresses some items from the DFL agenda. He started by saying that the “reality is we have been the party of ideas, bringing forth common-sense solutions to address Minnesota’s biggest problem — too many Minnesotans are being squeezed in an economy tilted in favor of the insiders, elites and special interests.” With all due respect, Rep. Thissen, the DFL is the party of special interests.

Nobody’s been squeezed more than the Iron Range. They’ve been squeezed by environmental absolutists who demand that mining projects can’t produce any pollution ever. They’ve been squeezed so tight that it’s difficult to find middle class families on the Range. Minnesota’s poverty rate is 11.5%; compare that with Hibbing’s poverty rate of 20.6% and Virginia’s poverty rate of 26.5%. Then, Rep. Thissen, tell me who’s getting squeezed and who’s getting ignored by the DFL.

Rep. Thissen also wrote that “House DFLers proposed just a solution comprised partly of the House GOP transportation plan and Gov. Mark Dayton’s proposal.” That isn’t a solution. The DFL’s ‘solution’ would’ve imposed a major tax increase on the very middle class taxpayers that Rep. Thissen insists are getting squeezed by the special interests. FYI- Gov. Dayton’s transportation plan is virtually identical to Move MN’s transportation plan. Move MN doesn’t exist anymore. The new DFL-aligned transportation lobbyist organization is called Transportation Forward.

Rep. Thissen, when the DFL approved spending on the Senate Office Building, which group of squeezed people did that help? When the DFL legislature passed its Tax Bill, it included sales taxes on farm equipment repairs, warehousing services and other B2B taxes. This table offers a good explanation of the middle class tax increases the DFL imposed on Minnesotans:

Rep. Thissen, why did the DFL legislature pass this mountain of middle class tax increases in 2013, then vote to repeal them in 2014?

It’s crazy that Rep. Thissen thinks that this is a solution:

We have introduced legislation that would demand powerful drug companies be more transparent about profits to reduce costs of prescription drugs.

That’s right, Rep. Thissen. Central Minnesota has been insisting that the state government get involved in telling businesses how they’ll be allowed to conduct business. Minnesotans are getting squeezed by busybody politicians like Rep. Thissen have heaped piles of compliance costs, reporting requirements and regulations on businesses. That, more than anything else, is what’s driving up costs.

Finally, what’s interesting is that Rep. Thissen didn’t argue that he wasn’t truthful about the controversial provisions thrown into bills.

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According to this NY Times article, Laura Ingraham wants the GOP to head in a populist direction. That isn’t leadership. That’s capitulation. That’s handing the nomination to Donald Trump. What’s worst is that it means our courts will be packed with activists whether Trump wins or Hillary wins.

Ms. Ingraham is famous for lecturing the DC insiders for their failures. It’s time to lecture her for her foolishness. Populism is what got this nation into this situation. Populism is liberalism with a different name. Populism isn’t rooted in constitutional principles. Populism is prone to mob rule, which is just a step away from anarchy. Does Ms. Ingraham really want to deal with a system of government where the mob rules? Does Ms. Ingraham prefer government of and by judicial fiat? That’s what populism will give us. In fact, populism will give us that sooner rather than later.

If she doesn’t, then she’d better stop being Trump’s apologist. It isn’t just Ms. Ingraham that’s making this tragic mistake, either. Andrea Tantaros, Eric Bolling and Sean Hannity are making the same mistake. That trio has bent over backwards rationalizing away Mr. Trump’s contradictory statements. This weekend, Hannity went so far as to tell Steve Hayes that Trump didn’t say that he’s in favor of the Obamacare mandate even though there’s video of Trump making that statement during Thursday night’s town hall meeting on CNN:

“The establishment G.O.P. is lying to itself. This election at its core is a rejection of their globalist economic agenda and failed immigration policies — and of rule by the donor class,” said Laura Ingraham, the conservative talk-radio host and political activist. “Millions want the party to go in a more populist direction.”

Ms. Ingraham isn’t really that stupid. You can’t be that stupid and be a Supreme Court law clerk. It’s possible, however, to misdiagnose the root cause of the problem. The economy isn’t failing because of globalism. It’s failing because our taxes are outrageous, the compliance costs of our regulations are crushing businesses and our regulations are designed to crush competition.

When Mr. Trump argues that companies are leaving the United States, he’s right. It’s just that his plan to fix that won’t fix anything. The type of tariffs that Mr. Trump is advocating for kill jobs. President Reagan and President Clinton are the 2 greatest job creators of my lifetime. They both thought that the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act caused the Great Depression. Most economists agree with that.

Trump’s economic plans aren’t rooted in capitalism. They’re rooted in corporatism. Trump hasn’t talked a single sentence during the debates about helping small businesses create jobs. Trump certainly hasn’t said anything about regulatory reform.

William F. Buckley once famously said that “A Conservative is a fellow who is standing athwart history yelling ’Stop!’” It’s time this generation of conservatives stood athwart history yelling ‘Stop’! It’s imperative because American exceptionalism is what’s on trial.

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This article by CNN’s Maeve Reston and Stephen Collinson is a worthwhile read. That doesn’t mean they don’t get some important things wrong, though.

It’s apparent that they think anyone calling themselves a TEA Party conservative agrees with Ted Cruz’s strategies 100% of the time. That’s apparent when they said “Despite the constitutional constraints on action in Washington and the presence of a Democratic President with a veto in the White House, they are furious that the GOP has failed to overturn Obamacare.”

Actually, I’m not upset with the GOP Congress for “fail[ing] to overturn Obamacare.” I’m furious with Mitch McConnell and John Boehner for not pushing the conservatives’ reform agenda. There’s no excuse for why they haven’t pushed Tom Price’s health care reforms. It’s filled with popular features that are infinitely more popular than the mandates in the ACA. There’s no excuse for not pushing Paul Ryan’s tax simplification legislation. Republicans and Democrats alike support tax simplification. Most importantly, it’s supported enthusiastically by small business entrepreneurs.

There’s no excuse for Mssrs. Boehner and McConnell haven’t pushed cutting government based on the GAO’s reports of duplicative programs. I’d love hearing Democrats defend programmatic duplication that runs into the tens of billions of dollars. (That isn’t a typo. It’s billions with a B.)

Finally, and I’m especially passionate about this, there’s no justification for not pushing Ron Johnson’s regulation reform. Sen. Johnson’s reforms aim to neuter something he calls “weaponized government.” When the EPA insists that a couple in Idaho can’t build their dream home on land they purchased because there’s a low spot somewhere on the property, that’s weaponized government. There’s nothing about that that lives up to “of, by and for the people.”

Though I’m upset with CNN, that’s nothing compared with how pissed off I am with Mssrs. Boehner and McConnell.

This St. Cloud Times article is proof that overly meddlesome government isn’t just found within the confines of the federal government. This time, it’s found in Sauk Rapids. Last night, the Sauk Rapids voted unanimously to fine people who violate Sauk Rapids’ so-called nuisance ordinance. According to the article, the “fine for a first violation will be $100, the fine for a second notice of the violation will be $300 and the fine for the third notice will be $600. The fine for repeat offenders within a two-year period will also be $600.”

By now, you’re likely wondering what constitutes a nuisance ordinance violation. According to the Times’ article, homeowners can be fined for letting garbage accumulate. Homeowners can’t “allow peeling or blistering paint on more than 15 percent of a home,” either. The only part of the ordinance that’s justifiable is “keeping windows in working condition and walkways in good condition.” I’d consider the keeping of windows in working condition and maintaining sidewalks public safety issues.

Here’s where Sauk Rapids’ ordinance goes way too far:

The ordinance also prohibits vehicles including boats, four-wheelers, trailers or other defined vehicles from being parked in a residential yard unless parked in the driveway, licensed and road-worthy. They can be parked in a rear or side yard if they are licensed and operable.

If a homeowner wants to park their boat or RV in their back yard, the city should keep its nose out of that homeowner’s business. There’s a reason why it’s called private property. These busybodies seem to think that it’s called public-private property. They’re mistaken on that.

Governments at all levels think that they can dictate what people can do with the people’s private property. Whether it’s the EPA telling citizens that they can’t build their dream home on private property because there’s a single low spot that the federal government considers a wetland or whether it’s the Minnesota Board of Soil and Water or Department of Natural Resources telling farmers what they can and can’t do in raising crops or whether it’s a city council telling private property owners what things are permissible on the property owner’s property, government apparently thinks that they’re co-owners of the property.

If they want to be co-owners, then let them make half of the mortgage payment and pay half of the property taxes. If they won’t do that, then they should butt out and devote their time to running the city efficiently while keeping their collective noses out of their citizens’ private property.

Gov. Dayton is proudly proclaiming that Minnesota is the best state to do business in. He’s basing that propaganda on CNBC’s latest ranking. After looking at how they arrived at the categories that they ranked states on, it’s easy to see how CNBC arrived at their ridiculous ratings. First, it’s important to know this about the rating system:

For example, if more states tout their low business costs, the “Cost of Doing Business” category carries greater weight. That way, our study ranks the states based on the criteria they use to sell themselves.

According to CNBC’s report, workforce is the most important category, followed by cost of doing business and infrastructure, economy, quality of life, technology & innovation, education, business friendliness, cost of living and, finally, access to capital.

Minnesota ranked 13th in workforce, 35th in cost of doing business, 9th in infrastructure, 5th in economy, 3rd in quality of life, 6th in technology and innovation, 2nd in education, 23rd in business friendliness, 32nd in cost of living and 23rd in access to capital.

CNBC’s ratings only tell us what the states think of themselves. They don’t tell us what businesses think of the state. The fact that more businesses are leaving Minnesota than are moving to Minnesota is the best indicator of what businesses think.

That isn’t to say that Minnesota is getting everything wrong. There are some things that we can build off of. It’s just that there’s a handful of important things that we’d better correct if we want to be the best. Lowering the cost of doing business is essential. That’s only possible by streamlining government, especially regulations. Cutting special deals with a couple companies to entice them here, then shafting businesses that are already here, which the Dayton administration has done, needs to change, too.

UPDATE: King Banaian’s article for the Center for the American Experiment highlights similar points. This point is especially noteworthy:

If you’re a state that isn’t particularly business friendly, you don’t talk about that in your marketing materials. You emphasize other things. You puff your materials with discussion of quality of life and how hardworking your workers are and ignore the areas where your policies might make business a little harder to conduct. And CNBC will go right along and take weight off those things, if the rest of the states are doing the same thing.

I can’t emphasize enough the fact that CNBC’s article isn’t a serious economic statement. It’s a statement based off of the states’ PR statements.

Bill Hanna’s article has a great explanation for why eliminating the MPCA’s Citizen Board is such a good thing:

ST. PAUL — Sometimes the best offense is a good defense. And Iron Range lawmakers were at the top of their game in that regard to forge a hard-fought good end to the 2015 legislative session. Provisions in contentious legislation that are vital to the Iron Range were in doubt right up to the early Saturday morning adjournment of the legislative overtime session. Even the very future of the PolyMet copper/nickel/precious metals project near Hoyt Lakes, which is knocking on the door of production and creation of 360 jobs, was in jeopardy.

But they all survived.

Twin Cities liberal DFL lawmakers were relentless in their attempts to get legislation changed to meet their environmental agenda, which would have proved disastrous to the Iron Range. But Range legislators, especially Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk of Cook and Sen. David Tomassoni, DFL-Chisholm, returned their left-wing serves with hard, fast and successful volleys. The results for the Range were huge:

Elimination of a long-standing citizens’ advisory board that would have had the authority to delay the PolyMet project through the back door even after the venture receives its permits, which is likely later this year, following the environmental impact statement soon to be approved. The advisory board is hostile to nonferrous mining on the Range and would have used all tactics available to delay even further the venture.

Hanna gave Republicans for their role in standing up to the DFL’s environmental activists:

But the GOP-controlled House rejected that new bill and reinstated the original measure that abolished the MPCA advisory board, which is hostile toward copper/nickel/precious metals mining on the Iron Range, and the provision beneficial to the PolyMet project.

I was ‘watching’ the special session through Twitter Friday night. After the Agriculture/Environment bill had been defeated in the Senate, Sen. Marty spoke on the issue:

After watching the video a second time, after hearing Sen. Marty saying repeatedly that the MPCA’s Citizens Board wasn’t for the MPCA, that it was for the citizens, I realized that Sen. Marty had a point but it isn’t the point he tried making. He said that the Citizens Board had intervened because the MPCA hadn’t listened to the citizens on various issues. Sen. Marty highlighted the fact that yet another bureaucracy wasn’t listening to the people.

I’m shocked, shocked I tell you, to find out that bureaucrats don’t listen to people.

In reality, though, Sen. Marty was spinning things just a bit. The Citizens board isn’t just about catching the MPCA’s mistakes. It’s about stopping mining projects. It was another stop in the permitting process where the environmental activist wing of the DFL could stop permits dead in their tracks.

Last Friday night, former Speaker Kurt Zellers said that the Citizens Board had stopped projects that had gotten their MPCA permits. They stopped these projects after the companies had started investing money in these projects, too.

These companies had done what was required of them by the regulators. They got their permits. They acted in good faith. Then an unaccountable, unelected bunch of bureaucrats stopped their projects after they’d invested their hard-earned money.

Thank God that the Citizens Board is heading to the dumpster where other failed DFL policies rest. The elimination of the Citizens Board is the biggest victory for either side from this session.

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Now that the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, aka PUC, has issued a certificate of need for the Sandpiper Pipeline project, it’s time to ask an important question. First, here’s what happened:

ST. PAUL – The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission has approved a certificate of need for the proposed Sandpiper pipeline from North Dakota’s Bakken oil fields to Superior, Wisconsin. While the PUC agreed 5-0 Friday that the $2.6 billion, 610-mile pipeline is necessary, they didn’t foreclose the possibility of rerouting it away from environmentally sensitive lakes, streams and wetlands in northern Minnesota. Enbridge Energy will still have to go through a lengthy review of its proposed route and a proposed alternative.

It’s great that they approved the project but I’m just a little worried about why they’re involved. Their primary responsibility is monitoring public utilities. There’s no doubt that politicians create ‘innovative’ definitions for words but that doesn’t mean a pipeline is a public utility.

There’s no justification for adding the PUC into the regulatory process — except if the goal is to create another hoop for companies to jump through. Then it makes perfect sense. If creating multiple hoops is the goal, then having the PUC review pipeline projects is imperative.

There are multiple agencies that review these types of proposals. Why? Shouldn’t Minnesota create a one-stop shopping center for reviews? Shouldn’t there be a time limit placed on both parties to speed up the review process? That way, companies can’t run out the clock by withholding important information and regulators can’t string companies along with endless amounts of questions.

Streamlining the review process gets important projects approved quickly while still asking the important questions.

There’s a throng of anti-corporation organizations filled with environmental activists attempting to kill the Sandpiper Pipeline project. They thrive off of multiple bites at the apple during the regulatory process. They’re assisted by politicians like Sen. Klobuchar and Sen. Franken, not to mention Gov. Dayton, Lt. Gov. Smith and legislators like Rep. Thissen and Sen. Marty.

These environmentalists will stand in the way of this type of reform. They’ll insist that the process isn’t broken and that it doesn’t need fixing. That’s a fantasy. Any system that requires years to get a project approved isn’t just fractured. It’s broken. Companies should be held accountable but they shouldn’t be required to spend tens of millions of dollars on each step of the regulatory process.

A strong national economy relies on cheap energy. If that’s our goal, which it should be, then it’s time we stepped into the 21st Century.

Sen. Jim Inhofe has a warning for everyone. It’s a warning he put into this op-ed. Here’s Sen. Inhofe’s warning:

EPA claims that it now has the right to regulate any water in a 100-year floodplain of a navigable water, any water that is 4,000 feet from a tributary, and any prairie pothole, pool or wetland that EPA has declared a “regional water treasure,” if it can identify a “significant nexus” with a navigable water.

EPA defines “significant nexus” so broadly that this test can be met in almost every instance. If EPA shows that a pond or wetland holds water, EPA can regulate it. If EPA shows that a pond or wetland seeps into the ground to an aquifer that feeds a stream or river miles away, EPA can regulate it. And, if EPA can show that a pond or wetland provides “life cycle dependent aquatic habitat for a species” that spends part of its time in a navigable water, EPA can regulate it. The “water” that EPA can regulate does not even have to be wet. It is also defined by “chemical, physical, and biological indicators.”

What’s happening is that the EPA is saying it has the right to regulate land that’s previously been thought of as being under the jurisdiction of state government. By expanding this definition, the EPA is redefining what’s the state government’s jurisdiction and what’s the federal government’s jurisdiction. If you think I’m making this up, think again. Check this out:

[Andy Johnson] and his wife built a small pond on their rural property using the stream flowing through it. They stocked the pond with trout so that their three small children could fish. The pond is an oasis for wildlife such as ducks and geese passing through.

It is precisely the sort of industriousness that reasonable people and zealous stewards of the environment applaud. But the EPA is made up of neither reasonable people nor zealous stewards of the environment. They are crazed hypocrites greedy for unchecked power and hell-bent on destroying the passions that connect people to the nature surrounding them. Like the Food and Drug Administration in the movie “Dallas Buyers Club,” the EPA has become the face of absolute power in the hands of blind government bureaucrats.

That is why the faceless henchmen of the EPA have come after Mr. Johnson and his family, charging them with violating federal law and threatening to bankrupt them. These EPA thugs ordered the Johnsons to destroy the pond they built and threatened to fine them $75,000 a day for being in violation of the Clean Water Act.

The Totalitarian Left used to get its way through the judiciary. Once more Constitution-minded judges replaced retiring legislative-minded judges, the Totalitarian Left shifted to the last vestige of totalitarianism: unelected, unaccountable regulators.

If conservatives wanted to return the United States to the proper balance, they’d elect a Constitution-loving conservative president in 2016 and hold onto their majorities in the House and Senate. That’s the first step. The next step is to abolish the filibuster so that legislation could pass that eliminates the regulators’ stranglehold. Force Congress to vote on every major rule. Major rules would be defined as rules that will cost the people being regulated more than $50,000,000 in compliance costs.

Pass legislation that forces regulators to show why protecting the Delta Smelt, through the Endangered Species Act, is more important than strangling farmers’ water rights. In fact, I’d require that the EPA has to use the least intrusive method possible to accomplish their goal.

In other words, I’d put these regulators on the defensive. I wouldn’t tolerate the weaponized federal government to put private property owners on the defensive. It’s time to fit the federal government into its proper-sized limits. The Founding Fathers wanted to keep as many decisions as close to the individual as possible. What the Obama administration has done is attempt to change that so that government is distant from the people it effects.

The EPA’s new rule is a perfect illustration of that.

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During his interview with MPR, Gov. Dayton experienced a brief flash of lucidity:

Gov. Mark Dayton is siding with U.S. Steel in a battle over water pollution standards for the company’s taconite facility in Mountain Iron. In an interview with MPR News, Dayton said the existing sulfate standard aimed at protecting wild rice is out of date, and pushing it could be catastrophic for northeastern Minnesota.

As the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency prepares to release new environmental standards, U.S. Steel is lobbying the Legislature to delay the implementation of a clean water standard aimed at protecting water where wild rice grows.

The existing state standard prevents companies from discharging more than 10 milligrams of sulfate per liter of water. But company lobbyists and Iron Range legislators say the standard is too low. With his latest comments, his strongest to date on the long-running debate, Dayton is joining that group.

“Some people will say, ‘you’re going to abandon the standard,'” Dayton said. “But if the standard is obsolete and it’s not validated by current science and information, then to stick with it and close down an industry isn’t really well advised.”

The MPCA just issued this draft proposal:

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is proposing that rather than relying on a single sulfate level for all wild rice waters, sulfate levels should be calculated for each wild rice water, based on location-specific factors. In coming to this conclusion, the MPCA studied how sulfate affects wild rice. The study, which began in 2012, found that:

  1. In the sediment in which wild rice is rooted, sulfate from the water above is converted to sulfide by bacteria.
  2. Higher levels of sulfide in the sediment create an environment that is less hospitable to wild rice.

However, certain factors change the rate at which sulfate is converted to sulfide. Most significantly, higher levels of iron can lead to less sulfide, and higher levels of organic carbon can lead to more sulfide.

To take these variables into account, the MPCA developed an equation that can determine a sulfate level that will protect wild rice for a specific water body. The agency proposes collecting sediment samples in wild rice stands, measuring the iron and organic carbon concentrations in the sediment, and then plugging the data into the equation to calculate a protective sulfate concentration for that particular wild rice water.All of the environmental organizations are protesting these findings because it strips them of another of their anti-mining arguments. They aren’t happy campers over this draft proposal. These environmental organizations were licking their proverbial chops over this:

Dayton said the sulfate standard is outdated and has rarely been enforced since it was first established in 1973. U.S. Steel’s Minntac plant was facing the new standard as it renewed a decades-old permit, something U.S. Steel said would cost hundreds of millions of dollars in upgrades.

Then Gov. Dayton stepped in.

It isn’t that Gov. Dayton had a change of heart. It’s that he knows pissing off the Iron Range means Tina Smith, his Lieutenant Governor, will lose the DFL gubernatorial campaign to Tom Bakk in 2018. Gov. Dayton can’t have that. That’s part of his lackluster legacy.