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Now that both sides have agreed to a mediator, the next question is whether that mediator will get Mark Dayton to negotiate in good faith. The odds of that are slim.

Based on past reporting, Gov. Dayton wants the GOP Tax Relief Bill significantly reduced. He wants the cigarette tax breaks eliminated. Further, he wants business property tax relief reduced. Meanwhile, Republicans have little incentive to modify their tax bill, which was already trimmed down from the 2016 bill that passed with overwhelming support.

The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that the line-item veto was constitutional, which wasn’t surprising. They also ruled that a constitutional tool can’t be used to achieve an unconstitutional result. Part of their ruling stated emphatically that Minnesotans have the right to a fully functioning legislature. When the court said that, they telegraphed where this case was heading if a negotiated settlement isn’t reached.

Further reducing the Republicans’ incentive to renegotiate their tax relief bill is the fact that Mark Dayton signed the bill into law. The Court can’t negate that. They can’t order the legislature to reduce the size of the tax relief package. They couldn’t enforce that if they ordered it.

I wouldn’t blame Republicans if they didn’t give much in mediation. The Court ordered mediation because Mark Dayton negotiated in bad faith. The Court is asking them to negotiate in good faith, something that Dayton doesn’t have a reputation for doing.

Negotiations are expected to start next week. I’m not expecting miraculous results:

Emperor Dayton apparently thinks that he doesn’t have to worry what Minnesotans think anymore now that he’s a lame duck. Monday afternoon, Mike Rothman, Dayton’s commissioner for the Department of Commerce, announced that Enbridge hadn’t proved the necessity for replacing Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline.

According to the article’s opening paragraph, “Enbridge Energy has failed to establish the need for its proposal to replace its aging Line 3 crude oil pipeline across northern Minnesota and it might be better to just shut down the existing line, the Minnesota Department of Commerce said Monday.” As stunning a statement as that is, it pales in comparison with the Department of Commerce’s filings with the Public Utilities Commission.

According to the article, it said “In filings with the state Public Utilities Commission on Monday, the agency said refineries in Minnesota and the upper Midwest already have sufficient supplies of crude oil and little capacity for processing more of it. It said Minnesota’s demand for gasoline and other refined petroleum products appears unlikely to increase over the long term. And it said the proposal carries serious environmental and socio-economic risks that outweigh the benefits to Minnesota. ‘In light of the serious risks of the existing Line 3 and the limited benefit that the existing Line 3 provides to Minnesota refineries, Minnesota would be better off if Enbridge proposed to cease operations of the existing Line 3, without any new pipeline being built,’ said a filing by Kate O’Connell, manager of the department’s Energy Regulation and Planning Unit.”

I don’t know what Ms. O’Connell is smoking but it must be the good stuff. Thinking that “Minnesota’s demand for gasoline and other refined petroleum products appears unlikely to increase over the long term” is proof of delusional thinking. Most importantly, it’s proof that the DFL doesn’t care about farmers or construction unions.

Not building the pipeline doesn’t mean that this crude oil won’t make it to a refinery. It simply means it’ll be part of an oil train. Putting it on an oil train hurts Minnesotans 2 different ways. First, it ties up trains so farmers’ products can’t get to market as fast. Next, putting oil on trains creates a safety risk.

Despite the Department of Commerce’s head-in-the-sand statements, the United States is going through an energy revival. We’re becoming energy dominant. We’re becoming a net exporter of oil and other fossil fuels. Despite those indisputable facts, Minnesota’s Department of Commerce wants to cripple Enbridge.

This pipeline project is a $7,500,000,000 project that would create thousands of construction jobs. If the DFL gets its way, it will shortchange construction workers. Isn’t it impossible to be the party of labor if you’re opposing labor’s highest priority projects?

Here’s proof that Emperor Dayton is out-of-touch:

“This document will arouse considerable controversy,” the governor said in a statement. “That discord should be recognized as part of the wisdom of the process.”

Speaker Daudt has a different perspective:

Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt called the filings “yet another example of (Democrats) siding with extreme environmental activists while putting Minnesotans’ jobs and safety at risk.”

There’s no reason to think that the environmental activist wing of the DFL will let any gubernatorial candidate (that includes Tim Walz) do anything to rebuild Minnesota’s energy infrastructure. This is a major project:

Commerce said that if the PUC approves the project, it should require a stronger emergency response plan, thicker pipe and other safety measures, as well as more insurance coverage and other financial assurances for cleaning up major releases and decommissioning the pipeline when it reaches the end of its useful life.

There’s no chance that the PUC will approve this during the Dayton administration. Dayton has filled PUC with environmental activists who hate fossil fuels.

According to this article, House Minority Leader Melissa Hortman supports Emperor Dayton’s new-found authority to negotiate in bad faith.

After Friday’s ruling, Hortman issued this statement, which says “Minnesotans expect their elected officials to collaborate on solutions to benefit everyone, but Republicans chose to go to court instead of negotiate in good faith with the Governor. This summer, I joined Governor Dayton in calling on the Republican majorities to return to the negotiating table and work to craft a long-term, sustainable budget for Minnesota. Given the Court’s order, all sides must come together with a spirit of compromise and collaboration in order to reach an agreement that will better serve Minnesotans. I look forward to working with Governor Dayton, Senator Bakk, and Republican leadership to do so.”

A refresher of history is required to detect how dishonest Rep. Hortman’s statement is. Prior to Emperor Dayton’s calling a special session, legislative leaders from both parties and the House and Senate agreed to how much would be spent. Republican leadership then submitted the legislative language for each bill, including the Tax Relief Bill, to the legislative leaders and Emperor Dayton’s senior staff.

It’s vitally important to note that there weren’t any surprises as to what was in the bills. It was there in black and white. Only then did Emperor Dayton agree to call a special session. After the legislature passed these spending bills and Emperor Dayton had signed almost all of them, he insisted that Republicans renegotiate the Tax Relief Bill.

Another important piece of information in this is the fact that Republicans already had agreed to reduce the size of the Tax Relief Bill when Emperor Dayton line-item vetoed the legislature’s funding. For the DFL and Emperor Dayton to now say that they’ll negotiate in good faith takes tons of chutzpah. They haven’t negotiated in good faith thus far. Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka and Speaker of the House Kurt Daudt released a joint statement, saying in part “Today’s order did not decide the case or vacate the lower court’s ruling, and we are ready to go to mediation to secure funding for the legislative branch of government. We worked in good faith in the past to attempt to breach this impasse, and will work in good faith again as we look ahead to the mediation process.”

The question now becomes whether Emperor Dayton and the DFL will finally start negotiating in good faith. The thing that Minnesotans should notice is that Emperor Dayton and the DFL insisted that his authorities are absolute. They argued that Minnesota governors should have the authority to hold the legislature hostage until he gets what he wants.

Pretty soon, DFL candidates and incumbents will start campaigning. Many DFL candidates will insist that they’re good at bringing people together. There’s proof that the DFL is good at not keeping their promises. There’s proof that the DFL is good at playing hardball. There isn’t proof that the DFL is good at bringing people together.

Finally, Republicans promised tax relief. They kept that promise. Republican promised educational reform. They kept that promise, too. Emperor Dayton didn’t keep his promises. Then the DFL insisted that Emperor Dayton’s authority was absolute. While all this was happening, Emperor Dayton issued a ruling that he was throwing another bone to the special interests by unnecessarily delaying the Enbridge Line 3 Pipeline replacement project.

It’s obvious that the DFL is the party of the special interests. It’s obvious that Republicans keep their promises. Think about that for a minute.

This afternoon, the Minnesota Supreme Court punted rather than make a constitution-based decision in the lawsuit filed by the legislature against Gov. Dayton. According to the article, “The Minnesota Supreme Court said Friday that Gov. Mark Dayton was within his authority to line-item veto funding for the House and Senate. But justices ordered the parties engage in mediated negotiations to come up with a workable solution.”

First, the injustice done with this ruling is stunning. Rather than rule that there are sensible limits on the executive branch, the Supreme Court essentially ruled that there aren’t limits on the use of the line-item veto. They’ve essentially given the governor unlimited power!

According to the article, Chief Justice Lorie Gildea wrote for the court, saying “The other branches should resolve these doubts through the political process. Thus far, they have not done so. As a result, Minnesotans may soon be deprived of their constitutional right to three independent branches of government.”

That’s stunning. Chief Justice Gildea admitted that the Supreme Court had the opportunity to guarantee that people would have the right of 3 functioning branches of government but that the Supreme Court declined to protect the people’s rights.

Further, the Supreme Court ordered the other co-equal branches into mediation rather than fulfilling their responsibility of applying the Constitution. Where in the Constitution does it give the Supreme Court the authority to tell the other branches what to do? A: It isn’t in there.

If I were advising Speaker Daudt and Senate Majority Leader Gazelka, I’d advise them to refuse to participate in mediation. I’d issue a statement saying that they won’t participate in extra-constitutional activities that the Court doesn’t have the authority to require or enforce.

If Mssrs. Daudt and Gazelka decide to participate in mediation, then I’d advise them to tell Gov. Dayton that he’ll have to give up some things in the budget that Republicans agreed to that they didn’t want. Further, I’d issue a statement saying that Gov. Dayton will have to renegotiate things that the GOP agreed to. Here’s how I’d word that statement:

We have agreed to mediation because Minnesotans need 3 functioning branches of government. Because Gov. Dayton wants to renegotiate parts of the GOP Tax Relief Bill that he agreed to, it’s only fair that he prepare to renegotiate parts of the budget that we didn’t like. If Gov. Dayton isn’t willing to give up things that he wanted, then it’s obvious that he won’t negotiate in good faith. We won’t negotiate where we do all the giving and Gov. Dayton does all of the taking.

This shows why judges should be elected, not appointed. This ruling shouldn’t have happened. This court made up new rules rather than apply the Constitution.

This ruling happened because DFL jurists sided with Gov. Dayton because of their political beliefs rather than based on longstanding constitutional principles. As such, they should be seen as constitutional freeloaders.

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It isn’t a stretch to think that Gov. Dayton’s appointees to the Minnesota Supreme Court ran interference for him today. Though MPR’s article on this morning’s oral arguments doesn’t highlight it, Justices Lillehaug and Hudson asked some questions of Doug Kelley. Kelley represented the legislature in this matter.

Justice Lillehaug and Justice Hudson “pressed Doug Kelley, the attorney for the Legislature, on why legislative leaders adjourned their special session without waiting for Dayton to act on the bills they passed.” That isn’t a constitutional question. That’s a political question.

When Kelley tried talking about Dayton’s reason for line-item vetoing the legislature’s biennial budget, Lillehaug insisted that going into a person’s motives were off-limits. In this situation, though, Lillehaug didn’t think asking about the legislature’s adjournment was off-limits. If the legislature’s motives for adjourning were fair game, Gov. Dayton’s motives for his line-item veto should be fair game, too.

Gov. Dayton’s reason for vetoing the legislature’s budget is relevant because Gov. Dayton wanted to tip negotiations into his favor. Complicating matters is the fact that the legislature and Gov. Dayton had signed a contract specifying that there wouldn’t be any amendments to any of the bills, that the dollar figures and policy provisions were fixed and the legislative language was read before the contract was signed.

In many ways, then, the agreement is a legally binding contract. Gov. Dayton vetoing the legislature’s funding with a line-item veto is breaking that contract. The legislature had agreed to compromise on some of their priorities if Gov. Dayton compromised on some of his priorities.

Once the caucus leaders and Gov. Dayton signed that contract, the implication is that signing bills that lived up to the contract was expected as part of that agreement.

The biggest worry that the legislature has is that Gov. Dayton’s appointees will side with him out of political loyalty, not because that’s what the Constitution demands. Simply put, the worry is that they’re Democrat operatives first and that ruling on the side of the Constitution is a distant priority.

From an historical and biographical perspective, Lillehaug is a hardline progressive:

If there’s anything certain in life, the saying goes, it’s death and taxes. In St. Cloud, we can apparently add Dan Wolgamott running for political office as a certainty. According to this article, Wolgamott, who has run for Tama Theis’s house seat in HD-14A in 2014, then ran for the open senate seat vacated when John Pederson retired, is now interested in Jim Knoblach’s seat.

Wolgamott issued a statement announcing his candidacy, saying “Career politician Jim Knoblach currently represents the district and is serving his eighth term (15th year) in the state House. Under Knoblach’s watch, the Legislature has failed to get its work done on time for six of those years, each time resulting in a costly special session.”

The perpetual campaigner is denouncing career politicians. That’s rich. Here’s what you need to know about Wolgamott. First, he’s a Democrat first. His constituents come second. He said as much a few years ago when he wrote an op-ed, saying that he’d vote to raise the gas tax if that’s what his caucus approved. Next, Wolgamott’s talk about bringing people together is just that — talk. I don’t doubt that Wolgamott brings Democrats together. I’m totally skeptical, though, that he’d lift a finger to bring Republicans and Democrats together.

I don’t have to speculate whether Jim Knoblach would bring Republicans and Democrats together. I have verifiable proof that he’s frequently brought Republicans and Democrats together. The most recent example that I wrote about was in 2015, when he was part of Speaker Daudt’s budget team that put together a bipartisan budget agreement with then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk. Of course, Gov. Dayton and other high-profile liberals sabotaged the agreement.

The good news is that Chairman Knoblach persevered, which led to the Daudt-Bakk budget eventually passing during a special session. There’s no reason to think that Wolgamott would stand up to the DFL leadership. He’s a hardline progressive that would’ve voted to create MNsure.

Finally, here’s another part of Wolgamott’s statement getting into yet another race:

Status-quo politicians like Jim Knoblach continue to stack the deck against hard-working, middle-class Minnesotans, prioritizing wealthy donors and corporate special interests instead of working families.

Wolgamott is as cookie-cutter as they come. There’s nothing that says he’d be a leader. If you went to the dictionary for the definition of a career politician, here’s what you’d find:

Ed Morrissey is the latest Minnesotan to ask the question about whether Minnesota is turning red. Prior to Ed asking that timeless question, Barry Casselman asked that question in his Weekly Standard article.

Ed and Barry both note that Tim Pawlenty is the last Republican to win statewide office in Minnesota, with Ed noting that Hillary’s near-defeat shouldn’t be attributed to Trump’s strong performance as much as it should be attributed to Hillary’s poor performance. Ed highlighted the fact that “Trump did manage to outscore Mitt Romney’s 2012 results, but only by 2,000 votes. Clinton, on the other hand, dropped nearly 180,000 votes from Barack Obama’s 2012 total. That lack of enthusiasm for Clinton, and the poor GOTV effort on the ground in the state, is what nearly cost her the election.”

What neither gentleman wrote about was the strength of the Republicans’ legislative victories in 2016. In my opinion, that’s missing a key data point. Just look through the margins in the State Senate races. Republicans flipped SD-1 and SD-2 in northwestern Minnesota, SD-5 on the Iron Range, SD-17 near Willmar, SD-20 in south central Minnesota. Most of those seats were won by double-digit margins. Of the Republicans winning re-election, most won by high double-digit margins. On the House side, Republicans won by impressive margins.

The point isn’t that President Trump didn’t win. It’s that legislative candidates outperformed President Trump by a significant margin throughout the state. Further, DFL incumbent Tim Walz almost got defeated in CD-1. The race was so close that Walz opted to run for governor rather than accept a rematch with Republican Jim Hagedorn.

Walz is considered the DFL frontrunner for governor. Speculation is that the DFL might not endorse a candidate this year. If there’s a 3-, 4- or 5-way primary, which is a distinct possibility, the winner will limp out of the primary to face a hungry Republican Party and a well-rested, respected candidate.

Ed ends his post by saying “Before we get around to declaring the state ready to go red, perhaps the GOP can win one statewide office first. Casselman suggests that Pawlenty might be enticed to run again for his old office. That would be good news for the GOP, but we should wait to see whether any other Republican can crack that code — for the Senate, for secretary of state, auditor, etc. Until then … stay skeptical.”

That’s a fair point but I’m getting more confident that something historic is getting ready to happen with each passing election cycle. Don’t forget that I was the only journalist that predicted Chip Cravaack’s victory in 2010 and I’m the only journalist that predicted that Republicans would flip the Minnesota Senate.

In my opinion, Gov. Pawlenty’s time has come and gone. There’s little doubt that he’d do well in the suburbs but there’s equally little doubt that he’d struggle in rural Minnesota. The traditional pick, if he runs, would be Kurt Daudt. The dark horse candidate I’d pick would be Amy Koch. They’re both urban enough and well-known to win in the suburbs. They’re both rural enough to win rural Minnesota by a big enough margin.

Friday night on Almanac’s roundtable, Mike Hatch said something that Gov. Dayton probably didn’t want him to say. First, Gov. Dayton wants to get Republicans to renegotiate parts of the bills Gov. Dayton signed. Speaker Daudt and Senate Majority Leader Gazelka have steadfastly refused to do that.

Specifically, Gov. Dayton wants Republicans to repeal parts of the Tax Bill and renegotiate the teacher licensure reform bill that Gov. Dayton signed. At this point, there’s no incentive for Republicans to renegotiate any of those things because, in Hatch’s opinion, Judge Guthmann essentially said that the legislature is a core function of government that has to be funded.

One of the precedents established by Minnesota’s courts is that things that are deemed core functions of government get funded.

Needless to say, the St. Cloud Times published an Our View editorial that’s virtually incomprehensible. The Times is famous for blaming both sides in a political fight. This time, it’s mostly Gov. Dayton’s fault, though you wouldn’t know that from the Times’ editorial:

In the wake of a judge’s ruling last week granting temporary funding for the Minnesota Legislature, let’s hope the lawsuit in need of the ruling drags on, and on and on and on, ideally until Election Day 2018.

Why? Perhaps if this lawsuit, paid for 100 percent with tax dollars, stays in the news that long, voters will have a top-of-mind reminder to finally cast ballots for state office holders whose top priority is public service through compromise, not political gamesmanship through stubbornness.

What the Times omits from their editorial is that none of this would’ve happened if Gov. Dayton hadn’t reneged on his promise to cut taxes in 2016. Originally, Gov. Dayton agreed to a massive tax relief package. After the legislature passed the bill with overwhelming bipartisan support, Gov. Dayton vetoed the bill.

Minnesota doesn’t need tons more “state office holders whose top priority is public service.” Minnesota needs one less dishonest governor who reneges on legislation that he’s agreed to sign. Let’s be clear. Gov. Dayton isn’t trustworthy. He’s proved that the last 2 years.

Finally, I hate to disappoint the Times editorialists but this lawsuit is virtually over. Gov. Dayton has lost the suit. The only thing that’ll save him is if the Minnesota Supreme Court rules that the entire legislative branch isn’t essential. That won’t happen because the Court would become a laughingstock.

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Based on this article, it sounds like Republicans are planning on playing a little political hardball. After Gov. Dayton unconstitutionally vetoed most of the legislature’s operating budget for the next biennium, Speaker Daudt spoke about Gov. Dayton’s demands for another special session. Speaker Daudt said “I’m not going to sit down with the governor to renegotiate something he has already agreed to.”

Gov. Dayton thinks that he’s dealing from a position of strength. He’s demanding that Republicans eliminate tax breaks on tobacco products, cancel changes to the state’s estate tax that would impact Minnesotans who die with estates valued at more than $2 million, or farmers and businesses valued at more than $5 million, eliminate a freeze on statewide business property taxes, remove a measure that explicitly prevents undocumented Minnesota residents from obtaining a state driver’s license and amend changes to the state’s teacher licensure system that were included in the omnibus education finance bill.

In this post, I quoted from Gov. Dayton’s letter about giving drivers licenses to illegal aliens. Gov. Dayton started the letter by saying “The un-Minnesotan provision that Republicans insisted be in the Public Safety Bill is divisive and destructive to all Minnesotans.”

In that sentence, Gov. Dayton essentially stated that Minnesotans oppose following the rule of law. That’s as asinine as the time he told St. Cloud residents they should leave the state:

Rest assured, those types of statements aren’t playing well in Minnesota. If anything, they’re alienating Minnesotans from the DFL. Further, Gov. Dayton’s demands won’t play well in rural Minnesota. If Gov. Dayton thinks he’s helping the DFL with these statements, he’s foolish. He’s driving Minnesotans away.

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Gov. Dayton’s vindictive side is showing, especially after vetoing the bill that would keep the legislature running. In a stunt that’s thought to be unprecedented, “Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed the Legislature’s budget Tuesday, May 30, because of what he called ‘a reprehensible sneak attack, which shatters whatever trust we achieved during the session.'”

Gov. Dayton insisted on Republicans capitulating on 5 major items in exchange for restoring funding for the legislature. The 5 items Gov Dayton is requesting are to reverse tobacco tax breaks, cancel a cut in estate taxes, remove a freeze on statewide business property taxes, take out a provision that prohibits undocumented immigrants from getting driver’s licenses and renegotiate a measure that allows professionals to become teachers easier. In other words, Gov. Dayton wants Republicans to relinquish their biggest legislative victories this session.

Simply put, that ain’t happening, especially issuing the real ID to illegal aliens and removing the freeze on statewide business property taxes.

Gov Dayton isn’t that bright. He thinks he’s got leverage but he doesn’t. The legislature is an essential service. In the past, courts have ruled that essential services must be funded. Further, the DFL is further alienating main street by removing the freeze on statewide property taxes. That’ll piss off lots of small business owners. The DFL is already bleeding those voters. Now, they’ll lose more of those voters.

Gov. Dayton is doing to the DFL what President Obama did to the Democratic Party. He’s shrinking the DFL both numerically and geographically. By the tie the 2018 happens, the DFL will essentially be found only in Minneapolis, St. Paul and Duluth.

As Chair of the LCC, Speaker Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) issued the following statement.

“Yesterday, the governor took an unconstitutional step to defund the Legislature, attempting to silence both the House and Senate for the next four years. As I stated earlier, I am disappointed in the governor’s behavior and his decision to veto our operating budget over differences he previously agreed to,” said Speaker Daudt. “The governor has left the Legislature no choice but to seek outside counsel in an effort to defend the people’s voice at the Capitol.

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