Archive for the ‘Agriculture’ Category
This article highlights the ever-growing fight for the Democratic Party’s soul. Throughout the article, the feuding factions are noticeable. It isn’t until the end that the disagreements boil over.
That’s when Nancy Larson, a member of the Minnesota DFL, is quoted as saying the “brilliant ones at top know better. And they come down and say, ‘This is what you do, this is what you say, this is what you have your candidates do, and don’t stray from this.'”
A couple paragraphs earlier, the article quotes Ted Sadler, a Democratic political operative from Georgia, as saying “People just love it when you show up. But for us, there was zero Democratic action in the 8th Congressional District.”
This indicates why Democrats won’t get out of their fight anytime soon:
In Georgia, Sadler said the party was instead obsessed with driving up turnout in Atlanta and its surrounding suburbs at the expense of Democratic-friendly areas in other parts of the state. It was a common refrain among the Democratic strategists interviewed for this story, all of whom said they saw a party that believed it no longer needed rural votes to win elections.
When Democratic officials did show up, Sadler and others said they were ill-equipped for the nuances of a campaign in rural America.
“When they do show up, it’s 22-year-old kids from the Ivy League,” Sadler said. “And they’re telling you what do, as opposed to stopping and listening.”
It isn’t surprising that Democrats lost the Heartland, especially rural America, often by lopsided margins. Democrats kept Nancy Pelosi as their leader in the House. They picked Chuck Schumer as their leader in the Senate. They do whatever Tom Steyer and the Sierra Club order them to do. Democrats are loyal, too, to Silicon Valley and the East and Left coasts.
The thing that the media is missing is that the earth shifted with the last election. In the past, Democrats could get away with saying they’re for high-tech jobs because Republicans didn’t emphasize the importance of blue collar jobs like mining and factory work. The mining industry and manufacturing jobs are getting strangled with regulations. The Democrats don’t know how to talk to those people because, to them, it’s like speaking a foreign language that they’d have to learn against their will.
Finally, the environmental activists’ agenda is the opposite of the mining industry’s agenda. They fit together like oil and water.
This article drives the point home that the DFL-created health insurance crisis isn’t just a story on the news. It’s about families in our city, in our neck of the woods. In this case, Rose and John Lang, farmers from Richmond are getting hurt by the ACA. According to the article, Rose said “I have been worried sick about this for weeks.” This happens to be rising health care prices.
Notice that I didn’t say health insurance premium increases. According to the article, “Rose said in 2012 their premium was $1,425 every three months. It increased to $5,000 every three months with a $2,000 deductible in 2016 for a total of $22,000 a year. The cheapest plan they can find now is a $4,000 premium every three months and a $16,000 deductible.”
Gov. Dayton and the DFL are painting the picture that it’s just health insurance premiums that are going up. Gov. Dayton and the DFL are doing whatever they can to con people that things aren’t as bad as they are. Rose Lang’s words should be thrown in the DFL’s face whenever Gov. Dayton or a DFL candidate try pretending that things really aren’t that bad:
The Supposedly Affordable Care Act is so expensive that Rose and John Lang are spending their life savings on health care while they’re still farming. The F in DFL supposedly stands for Farmer. The ACA is ruining farmers’ lives. In fact, when the DFL insists that “only 5% of Minnesotans buy their health insurance through the individual market, a high percentage of those families buying through the individual market are farmers.
The DFL is trying to salvage as many legislative seats as possible this election in their attempt to implement a radical ‘fix’ to the problem. They’re hoping to hold the few House and Senate seats they still hold in rural Minnesota. I think farmers like John and Rose Lang won’t be fooled by the DFL. That’s why I think rural DFL legislators will have a difficult night next Tuesday.
In mid-June, Gov. Dayton pocket vetoed a tax relief bill that would’ve provided tax relief to lots of middle-class people, which I wrote about here. The editorial I quoted got it right when it said “when Gov. Mark Dayton pocket vetoed HF 848 which would’ve provided significant tax relief to the citizens of Minnesota, it sort of felt like something major was lost. Gone was tax relief for veterans, gone was tax relief for small business owners, gone was a tax break for farmers, gone was a tax break for the residents of Houston County who live in Minnesota but work in Wisconsin, gone was the forgiveness of interest paid on debt on the new school building.”
Gov. Dayton didn’t hesitate in vetoing this tax relief for farmers, veterans, small businesses and students. There’s something else that Gov. Dayton didn’t hesitate in doing. Gov. Dayton didn’t hesitate in paying his political appointees huge severance packages. Republicans are demanding that Gov. Dayton rescind those severance packages. Gov. Dayton, through his mouthpiece, has refused:
State law explicitly authorizes severance of up to six months’ salary for senior-level state employees, who make more than 60 percent of the governor’s salary, when they leave state service. We offered severances of up to three months’ salary to three agency heads, as the law expressly permits. The governor made those decisions, and in his judgement the circumstances justified those severances. Gov. Pawlenty used the same statute to authorize severance payments of $73,552 for two senior-level state employees. House Republicans are desperately trying to place a fig leaf over their failure last session to pass the bills that Minnesotans really need: a correctly-written tax bill, statewide building projects, and improved highways, roads, bridges and public transit.
WCCO’s Pat Kessler highlights this important difference:
MMB documents show Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty paid out $75,552 in severance checks to two state workers in 2005 who were not political appointees. One former employee, an administrative law judge, got $26,478. Another, a legislative audit manager, got $47,097.
They weren’t political appointees. They were public employees with lots of time on the job. Speaking of which, “Republicans say the law allows severance only under strict conditions, one of which is 10 years of service before becoming eligible. Republicans say the law allows severance only under strict conditions, one of which is 10 years of service before becoming eligible.”
The moral of this is that Gov. Dayton killed tax relief to farmers, veterans, students buried with student loan debt and small businesses without hesitation. By comparison, he’s fighting hard for illegal severance packages for his political appointees. It’s apparent that Gov. Dayton’s priorities aren’t Minnesota’s priorities.
Finally, it’s worth noting that the DFL legislative leaders, who spout off about all kinds of silly subjects, are silent about this. It’s just more proof that the DFL isn’t the party of the little guy … unless they’re government employees.
Technorati: Mark Dayton, Political Appointees, DFL Culture of Corruption, Katie Sieben, Mark Phillips, Sheila Wright, DFL, Sarah Anderson, Kurt Daudt, Middle Class Tax Relief, Farmers, Students, Veterans, Small Businesses, Middle Class
This article makes it pretty clear that farmers aren’t fond of Gov. Dayton. It isn’t a stretch to think that farmers aren’t happy with DFL legislators, either.
Farmers are upset with Gov. Dayton because “farmers were not happy when Dayton tried to do an end-around the legislative intent of the new buffer law and make it apply to private farmland as well as public bodies of water.” As always, Gov. Dayton tried siding with the environmental activist wing of the DFL.
Gov. Dayton wasn’t satisfied with just that. According to the article, Gov. Dayton “followed that with an executive order aimed at restricting the use of certain pesticides that some scientists have implicated in the decline in pollinators, such as honeybees.”
Gov. Dayton still wasn’t finished. According to Becker County Board Chairman Barry Nelson, “the new buffer law will also cost farmers money, because areas now enrolled in the federal Conservation Reserve Program will no longer qualify because of state-mandated buffers.”
TRANSLATION: Farmers get shafted because Gov. Dayton couldn’t resist appeasing the DFL’s environmental activist wing. Gov. Dayton didn’t consult with the farmers though it’s virtually certain that he gave the environmental activists all the time they needed to make their case for this law.
It isn’t a secret that the DFL’s reputation with farmers is dropping. Rep. Thissen thinks that expanding broadband in rural Minnesota is the way to attract additional voters. Apparently, Gov. Dayton thinks that farmers won’t notice him siding with environmental activists. It isn’t that farmers don’t care about other things. It’s that they care most about making money through farming.
Thus far, Gov. Dayton and Rep. Thissen haven’t figured that out. That’s why Republicans will hold onto their majority in the House. That’s why they have a shot at flipping the Minnesota Senate.
Technorati: Mark Dayton, Paul Thissen, Tom Landwehr, Department of Natural Resources, Buffer Zones, Environmental Activists, DFL, Farmers, MNGOP, Election 2016
Ron Kresha represents Little Falls in the House of Representatives. Rep. Kresha is the incumbent running for re-election in District 9B. (The main cities in Rep. Kresha’s district are Little Falls, Long Prairie and Pierz.) It’s safe to say that HD-9B is a district with tons of farmers. Though the district has changed since I last visited the area, I’m still able to identify most of the cities and towns in the District.
Now that I’ve laid out the history of the district, let’s dive into the editorial Rep. Kresha’s opponent wrote. Rep. Kresha’s opponent made a point of saying “I will listen to farmers. I will stand up for our farmers, and I will fight for our farmers because I know that without them, our communities would not survive. As state representative, I will make sure our farmers are not forgotten in St. Paul. That is why I am running as the Democratic-Farmer-Labor candidate. I want to shed light on the struggles our farmers deal with and thank them for their hard work.”
Of course, Rep. Kresha’s opponent had to throw in the cheap shot of saying “My opponent in Minnesota House 9B has done very little to preserve farms and to make certain farmers are treated like the first-class citizens they are.”
With all due respect, the DFL hasn’t done much to help farmers. The DFL opposes building pipelines that would free up rail space so farmers could get their crops to market faster. In fact, the DFL is ruled by environmental activists who love regulating farms to death. Metro Democrats tried and succeeded in killing a major proposed farming operation in western Minnesota through the use of the now-defunct Citizens Advisory Board. The DFL killed this proposed farming operation so Republicans killed the advisory board because “the Citizens Board had stopped projects that had gotten their MPCA permits.”
Does anyone seriously think Rep. Thissen will let Rep. Kresha’s opponent fight for farmers? There’s a better chance that the king’s horses and king’s men will put Humpty Dumpty back together again than there is of Rep. Thissen will let any pro-farmer legislation get a committee hearing. If you’re living in rural Minnesota, voting for the DFL is a wasted voted.
Yesterday, negotiators from the Minnesota House and Senate theoretically met in the hopes of hammering out a bonding bill agreement. That wasn’t the DFL’s goal. DFL senators, led by Jeff Hayden, blamed Republicans for not getting the bonding bill passed.
The DFL used the same misleading arguments they’ve been using since the DFL Senate sabotaged a bill that had broad bipartisan support. Here’s what’s important to know. The House passed a $1,000,000,000 bonding bill without funding for SWLRT. SWLRT funding wasn’t part of the agreement reached by Speaker Daudt and Sen. Bakk. Simply put, it didn’t have the votes to pass in the House.
Key questions: Why does the DFL insist on pushing a controversial project that didn’t have the votes to pass? Isn’t that a definition of insanity? Isn’t that what you’d do if you wanted to prevent a bill from passing while blaming the other side for your obstruction?
Another tactic that the FL is using to deflect criticism from Gov. Dayton’s veto of the tax bill is talk about the $100,000,000 drafting error. The minute Gov. Dayton brought it up, Speaker Daudt agreed to fix it the minute a special session was called. Problem solved, right? In Sanityville, yes. In Dayton-DFLville, that molehill turned into a mountain. At least, that’s how some of Twin Cities media are playing it.
Simply put, Gov. Dayton vetoed a tax bill that a) provided tax relief to farmers, small businesses, students will college loan debt, veterans and parents saving for their kids’ college education and b) passed 178-22 in the House and Senate.
Key question: Doesn’t real leadership accept yes for an answer and move onto bonding bill negotiations?
Gov. Dayton and the DFL aren’t about fixing things, though. Their word salad automatically talks about ‘bringing people together’ and ‘making progress’. The DFL never talks about fixing problems. The DFL doesn’t talk about doing the right thing.
There’s a reason for that. The DFL doesn’t want to get to a point where things are running smoothly. The DFL doesn’t want to fix things. If that happened, people might expect that. If that happened, people might notice that they prefer limited government that gets the important things right all the time and worries about peripheral things once they’ve gotten the important things right. The day that that happens is the day that progressives are out of a job.
The DFL’s whining is aimed at one thing: regaining control of the House so they control state government again. Thoughtful people should reject that possibility ASAP. The last time the DFL ran St. Paul, taxes got raised, including property taxes, spending went through the roof and they checked off tons of things from their special interest allies’ wish lists.
As a result, capitol flight accelerated and young, productive, people left the state at a greater rate. If losing the border battle brain drain sounds appealing, vote DFL. If you want statewide prosperity, vote GOP. It’s that simple.
The Senate DFL held out against the Metrocrats longer than I’d expected. Unfortunately, Sen. Bakk caved to the environmental activist wing of the DFL when they put John Marty in charge of “environment, water and energy issues.” It’s a dark day for Minnesotans living in exurban and rural Minnesota.
Sen. Marty is one of the most out-of-touch environmental activists in the state. I wrote about Sen. Marty’s environmental extremism in this post. During the special session last summer, Sen. Marty tried sabotaging a deal made by Sen. Bakk and Speaker Daudt. That deal included getting rid of the so-called Citizens Board, which is part of the MPCA, aka the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.
The Citizens Board was anything but what its name implied. One of the seats on the Board was reserved specifically for someone from a union. I questioned this at the time because I don’t see what expertise a union member brings to the table of a board that had the authority to shut down projects that had received the proper permits from the MPCA. I wrote then that “lots of businesses have followed the law and gotten their MPCA permits, only to have the Citizens Board reject the approved permit.”
The impact of the so-called Citizens Board was significant and negative:
They’re most famous for sabotaging 2 major dairy farm projects. Thanks to the anything-but-Citizens-Board, those farms are now located outside of Minnesota. Though these were the highest profile cases of environmental sabotage, they weren’t the only cases.
There’s a solution to Sen. Marty’s environmental fanaticism but it won’t happen during this session. The solution is to install a Republican majority in the Senate and to take away Chairman Marty’s gavel.
In exurban and rural Minnesota, the truth is that voting for a DFL state senator is a vote for John Marty’s environmental extremism. Talk with farmers and other rural businesses. They’ll tell you whether they miss the Citizens Board of the MPCA. I’m betting that the overwhelming majority of rural Minnesota businesses wish that it would’ve happened sooner.
This isn’t Hubert Humphrey’s DFL anymore. Today’s DFL is dominated by environmental activists that’ve tried shutting down mining in northern Minnesota and who’ve stopped major farming projects that had gotten their MPCA permits. It’s one thing to be a good steward of Minnesota’s resources. That isn’t what’s happening with Sen. Marty and his activist allies.
They’re attempting to shut down major industries in the state. That’s unacceptable.
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.
Technorati: John Marty, Environmental Activists, Metrocrats, Citizens Board, David Tomassoni, Tom Bakk, Mining, Permitting Process, PolyMet Mining, DFL, Denny MacNamara, Agriculture and Environment Bill, Special Session, MNGOP
Prior to the start of Friday’s special session, Speaker Daudt, Rep. Thissen, Sen. Hann and Sen. Bakk signed an agreement with Gov. Dayton to pass the bills that they agreed to. Part of that agreement was that neither body would amend the bills that were pre-written and posted on the legislative website.
When Sen. Bakk couldn’t deliver enough votes to pass the Ag/Environment bill, the environmental activists pushed him to amend the bill to strip out 2 important reforms from the bill. The biggest reform was eliminating the Citizens Board, which can overturn decisions that the MPCA has made. When Sen. Bakk caved to the environmental activists demands, the bill went to the Senate floor, where it passed without Republican votes.
What happened next was that the House amended the amended Ag/Environment bill, putting the agreed-upon language back into the bill. The MacNamara Amendment passed by a 73-52 vote:
McNamara amendment reversing changes made to Ag and Enviro budget bill in the Senate passes House on a 73-52 vote #mnleg
— Briana Bierschbach (@bbierschbach) June 13, 2015
After the amendment passed, the House passed the bill by a 78-47 margin. Shortly thereafter, Speaker Daudt issued this statement:
“This is a responsible bill that meets the needs of our state agencies such as the Department of Natural Resources and the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources,” said State Representative Denny McNamara (R-Hastings), who chairs the Minnesota House Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee. “The bill also includes a number of policy reforms and initiatives that have bipartisan support.”
After the Senate changed the agreed-upon language of the legislation, the House moved to restore the original language. “By passing this legislation, we are honoring the commitment we made to Minnesotans with the four legislative leaders and the governor. Now the Senate has the opportunity to do the right thing and send this bill to the governor,” said House Speaker Kurt Daudt (R-Crown).
“When this bill becomes law, Minnesota will be able to continue to protect and preserve its food supply, make needed investments in research, and have the funds necessary to respond to the avian flu outbreak.” said State Representative Rod Hamilton (R-Mountain Lake), chair of the Minnesota House Agriculture Finance Committee.
The legislation funds state agencies such as the Department of Agriculture, the Agriculture Utilization Research Institute, the Board of Animal Health, Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), Minnesota Zoo, Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Metropolitan Council – Regional Parks, Minnesota Conservation Corps, Board of Soil and Water Resources (BWSR), and the Science Museum of Minnesota for the 2016-17 budget cycle.
Highlights of the omnibus agriculture, environment and natural resources finance bill include:
- Providing nearly $23 million to state agencies in order to better prevent and respond to the avian influenza outbreak that has devastated Minnesota turkey flocks
- Creating a new grant program for cities with a population of less than 45,000 in Greater Minnesota to incentivize single stream and other recycling programs.
- Increasing funding for Soil and Water Conservation districts to fund more “on the ground” projects.
- Providing much-needed reforms to the Wetland Conservation Act, which were developed over the past year and are a consensus of interested parties (such as groups representing farmers and environmentalists).
- Approving an initiative that builds on the successful example of counties and landowners that have used a voluntary and locally based process to install buffers to enhance water and soil protection.
- Repealing the current ‘Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Trailer Sticker/Decal’ law, and replacing it with a requirement that the boat owner sign an affirmation stating they will abide by AIS laws.
This has been a ‘session from hell’ for Sen. Bakk. In February, he ambushed Gov. Dayton over the commissioners pay raise bill that he voted for. That caused Gov. Dayton to accuse him of stabbing Gov. Dayton in the back, which is an accurate accusation. After that outburst (by Dayton), Kurt Daudt became the only man who Sen. Bakk and Gov. Dayton trusted.
Thanks to this Ag/Environment bill, the DFL special interest groups have put Sen. Bakk at the top of their hit list. They’re even calling for Sen. Bakk’s ouster as Senate Majority Leader. If this thing isn’t wrapped up soon, Bakk won’t have a friend left in St. Paul.
UPDATE: The Ag/Environment bill finally passed as originally drafted. After it passed the House 78-47, it went to the Senate. Sen. Marty made a motion not to concur with the House bill. That motion failed on a 39-28 vote. Sen. Tomassoni made a motion to concur with the House bill as amended. Sen. Tomassoni’s motion to concur passed 40-26. On final passage, the bill passed 38-29. The bill now heads to Gov. Dayton’s desk for his signature.
All of the bills that fund government have now passed. They await Gov. Dayton’s signature.
UPDATE II: This is what put it over the top:
#mnleg Jeez- Bakk is already dealing with GOP for next year. How long can we put up with this? Really, how long? https://t.co/AGYCjG2rwm
— mnpact (@newtbuster) June 13, 2015
Sen. Franken’s solution to high home heating prices isn’t a serious proposal:
The Democratic senator’s measure would put in place a coordinated response to growing coal supply emergencies that affect power plants across the country, including in Minnesota. “In Minnesota, we know that our utilities need dependable fuel supplies so they can provide heat to homes and businesses, and prevent rising energy costs for consumers,” Franken said.
The proposed Severe Fuel Supply Emergency Response Act of 2015 would direct the Secretary of Energy to lead the response to coal fuel supply emergencies by:
- Promptly investigating the cause of the fuel shortage and informing the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Surface Transportation Board.
- Convening a meeting with stakeholders involved.
- Making written publicly available recommendations for actions that would help alleviate the problems.
If Sen. Franken won’t propose a serious solution that doesn’t create a different crisis, he shouldn’t be a U.S. senator. This isn’t a serious proposal because Sen. Franken is still owned by environmental activists. These environmental activists, along with the Putin administration, don’t want the Sandpiper Pipeline project built. Before progressives start questioning the logic, here’s why the Pipeline is at the heart of the coal shortage problem. Because the Sandpiper Pipeline hasn’t been built, oil from the Bakken is getting shipped via rail to refineries in Superior, WI, and elsewhere. The last I heard there were either 6 or 7 trains dedicated to transporting oil from the Bakken to the refineries in Superior.
That’s led to a railcar shortage that’s affecting the shipping of iron to steel mills in the Rust Belt, the shipping of agricultural products to the Twin Cities in addition to the shipping of home heating products to anywhere in Minnesota.
Sen. Franken knows this. He doesn’t care about creating rail space to transport agricultural products to market or taconite to steel mills. Sen. Franken’s highest priority is to appease the environmental activists. Instead of appeasing theses special interests, he should attempt to represent his constituents. I know that’s a revolutionary concept with Democrats but it’s a worthwhile endeavor.