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Sen. Dave Senjem isn’t happy with the Minnesota Supreme Court’s ruling that Gov. Dayton was within his rights to veto the Legislature’s funding. That’s why he’s proposing putting a constitutional amendment on the 2018 ballot.

Because the legislature decides whether constitutional amendments are allowed on the ballot, Gov. Dayton doesn’t have a say in the matter. Further, this should frighten rural DFL legislators. Republicans should highlight the fact that this constitutional amendment is required because a) Gov. Dayton vetoed the funding and b)the Supreme Court got their ruling badly wrong. The first vote taken by the House will be to override Gov. Dayton’s line-item veto of the Legislature’s funding. If DFL legislators vote to sustain Gov. Dayton’s veto, they’ll be tarred and feathered and it’ll be deserved.

Sen. Senjem made a good point when he said “We’re not co-equal anymore because I believe the precedent has been set that yes, it’s OK for a governor to veto legislative appropriations, and there are no consequences, and I think that puts the Legislature in almost a subservient position.”

The Supreme Court got this wrong. Thanks to that ruling, the legislature has 2 terrible choices. Either they can cave to the governor’s demands or they can stop representing their constituents. Actually, there’s a third option. That third option is to spend down the money appropriated for the operation of the Legislative Auditor’s Office and the Revisor of Statutes’ office.

Spending down the money that’s supposed to run the OLA is terrible because they’re the state equivalent of the IG at the federal level. Should we shut down the office that caught April Todd-Malmlov mismanaging MNsure? Should we shut down the office that caught Ted Mondale and Michelle Kelm-Helgen using luxury suites at U.S. Bank Stadium to entertain friends, political allies and family?

It’s time to put this constitutional amendment on the ballot. It’s time to shame these Supreme Court justices for getting the decision wrong.

After the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled in Gov. Dayton’s favor, he tried spinning the situation as best he could, saying “It is time for us all to agree that this dispute has been concluded and resume working together for the best interests of Minnesota.” The legislature quickly said, essentially, ‘Thanks but no thanks.’ They said that because Gov. Dayton negotiated a budget settlement in bad faith. Gov. Dayton pushed this lawsuit in his attempt to intimidate the legislature into caving on tax relief. Thankfully, the legislature didn’t relent. Here’s something worth considering, Gov. Dayton. The legislature worked in the best interest of their constituents. They did their best to enact much-needed tax relief while reforming teacher licensure.

The first thing that the legislature will do when the next session convenes on Feb. 20, 2018 is pass a budget restoring their budget. It will sail through the House and pass the Senate. That’s when things get interesting. Will Gov. Dayton veto that funding, setting up a high-stakes showdown on an override vote? That’s a lose-lose situation for Gov. Dayton. If he vetoes the funding, it’s likely that he’ll get overridden.

That’s because I don’t think it’s likely that outstate DFL legislators will vote to end their political careers to sustain Gov. Dayton’s veto. If the DFL legislators vote to sustain Gov. Dayton’s veto, they can kiss their political careers goodbye. Republicans should portray each DFL legislator as representing Gov. Dayton first, their special interest allies second and their constituents somewhere down their list of priorities.

If Gov. Dayton signs the appropriation, he will have won a victory in court but lost the PR war. Pyrrhic victories don’t make for great legacies. Either way, Gov. Dayton’s victory will be short-lived.

Top legislative leaders are refusing to make key payments on a new Senate office building, an action that could hurt the state’s credit rating, and they won’t allow the executive branch to use nonpartisan staff to draft proposals. “I am not willing to bail the governor out,” Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt said Thursday. “He needs to own that.”

This video perfectly explains what Gov. Dayton has done with his line-item veto:

Republicans need to not let Gov. Dayton off the hook. Gov. Dayton is a lame duck governor who must be thinking about what his legacy will be. At this point, a significant portion of his legacy will be shutting down government once and calling special sessions to finish the budget. Will he want to preside over a downgrading of Minnesota’s credit rating, too? That will be on him if he vetoes February’s appropriation funding the legislature.

Each time Republicans have stood up to him over the budget, Gov. Dayton has lost stature while losing the fight. There’s no reason to think he won’t lose this fight, too.

Finally, the Supreme Court disgraced themselves yesterday. They didn’t rule on whether Gov. Dayton’s line-item veto achieved an unconstitutional result, which is the central question. They didn’t rule on that question while pretending to exercise judicial restraint. They exercised judicial cowardice, not judicial restraint. They did that because they didn’t want to hand Gov. Dayton a political defeat.

That’s pathetic. Whatever it is, it isn’t justice.

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When the Minnesota State Supreme Court said that governors couldn’t use part of the state’s constitution to achieve an unconstitutional result, they must not have meant it. Moments ago, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled in Gov. Dayton’s favor.

According to the article, “The Minnesota Supreme Court has upheld Gov. Mark Dayton’s line-item veto of the Legislature’s operating budget. The state’s high court says Dayton’s veto complied with the law, and that the state constitution does not allow the courts to order funding for the Legislature without an appropriation.”

The article further states that “Thursday’s decision hands Dayton a major legal victory as he seeks to rework costly tax breaks and other measures he signed into law this spring as part of a new state budget.” That’s pro-DFL spin. That sentence should read “Thursday’s decision hands Minnesotans a major legal defeat because they’ll soon be without representation in St. Paul.”

The DFL operatives on the Supreme Court decided that Minnesotans didn’t really have a constitutional right to 3 fully functioning branches of government. That’s one of the things they required in their in initial ruling. In this post, titled “D-Day for Dayton, Supreme Court”, I said that, whether the Supreme Court knew it or not, they were on trial. This morning, they handed down a ruling that essentially said that they’d failed.

I’d love hearing them explain how legislators can represent their constituents without getting paid. I can’t wait to hear them explain how this doesn’t give the governor a weapon in getting everything they want in budget negotiations.

The thing is that I’ll have to wait for those things because they can’t explain those things to me. There isn’t a logical explanation for their actions. Gov. Dayton packed the court. This morning, they repaid him for their appointments.

Now it’s time to throw out the DFL operatives that Gov. Dayton appointed to the Supreme Court. That can be done through the ballot box. Minnesotans, do you really want a governor who essentially has the power of an emperor? I don’t!

Brian Bakst posted a prediction on what will happen next. I agree with him:

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Thursday will be D-Day for Gov. Dayton and the Minnesota Supreme Court. According to Brian Bakst’s reporting, the “Minnesota Supreme Court is expected to deliver its long-awaited decision Thursday in a court case between the governor and Legislature. A notice from the clerk of courts to parties in the case said a decision has been made in the lawsuit regarding Gov. Mark Dayton’s vetoes.”

Bakst continued, saying “If [the] high court invalidates the line-item vetoes, it would cause funding to spring back. If [the] justices uphold the vetoes, it will push the Legislature toward a financial crisis.” That’s true but more than that, if the Supreme Court sides with Gov. Dayton, it will have reversed itself.

In this post, I highlighted the fact that the Supreme Court ruled that Gov. Dayton, like previous governors, has line-item veto authority. I also highlighted the fact that the Supreme Court said that a constitutional provision (the line-item veto) can’t “be used to achieve an unconstitutional result.” In the Supreme Court’s ruling, they also said that Minnesotans have a “constitutional right to three independent branches of government.”

The Minnesota Supreme Court, whether it realizes it or not, is on trial here. If they rule that the legislature must spend down the money appropriated to the Legislative Coordinating Commission, aka the LCC, they will be violating multiple Minnesota statutes. First, part of the money appropriated to the LCC pays for the operations of the Office of Legislative Auditor, aka OLA. In this post, I wrote “Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles has already expressed concerns about certain functions of his office being suspended – specifically the certification of state financial reports that support the state’s credit rating and the receipt of federal funds.” It’s inconceivable to me that the Supreme Court would rule against funding the OLA simply for those reasons.

I don’t doubt that the DFL operatives in black robes want to justify siding with Gov. Dayton. It’s just that I can’t imagine them saying in their preliminary ruling that you can’t use part of the state constitution to achieve an unconstitutional result. Saying that a governor has the right to temporarily disable the part of the government that represents the people is incomprehensible.

Check in with LFR Thursday for the Supreme Court’s final ruling in this important case.

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Minutes ago, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka announced that the Minnesota Senate is suspending operations. Specifically, his statement says “Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka announced today the Minnesota Senate will run out of money on December 1, 2017 unless new funding becomes available or the courts restore the legislative appropriation vetoed by Gov. Mark Dayton.”

Sen. Gazelka continues, saying ““We don’t take the suspension of operations of the Minnesota Senate lightly – this is not a game – but we really have no other choice today. The Senate is running out of money due to Governor Dayton’s veto of our appropriation. Even though we prevailed in our lawsuit in Ramsey County District Court, the Governor refuses to recognize that order and is forcing us to spend down our carry forward.”

It’s worth noting that the Senate isn’t the only institution affected by Gov. Dayton’s petulant behavior. The statement highlights the fact that “The office of the Legislative Auditor is funded through the LCC. Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles has already expressed concerns about certain functions of his office being suspended – specifically the certification of state financial reports that support the state’s credit rating and the receipt of federal funds.”

This is the Supreme Court’s moment of truth. They punted, leaving many unresolved questions. One thing they said in their ruling was that Minnesotans had the right to a “fully-functioning legislature.” As part of the legislative branch, the OLA has the obligation to certify “state financial reports that support the state’s credit rating and the receipt of federal funds.”

Sen. Gazelka added this reminder to his statement:

“Further, a proper respect for our co-equal branches of government counsels that we intervene in their dispute only when absolutely necessary. It has become ‘absolutely necessary’ for the court to weigh in. The people of Minnesota will no longer have a voice in the legislative branch after the first of the year, not to mention the pain inflicted on our employees.”

That’s from the Court’s ruling. The question now is whether the Court will enforce the principles it stated in its rulings. If they don’t, I’ll know that they’re just DFL politicians in black robes. I’ll know that they aren’t jurists making rulings based on the Constitution. I’ll know that they’re politicians first.

Finally, there’s this:

The Office of the Revisor of Statutes is also funded through the LCC and they work year-round with state agencies on rule making authority. The Revisor’s office would also be necessary to draft a bill to restore legislative functions once session begins in February.

It’s time for the Supreme Court to issue a ruling. Their spineless dithering put the state in this mess. It’s time they stopped their dithering and did their jobs as jurists.

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The defeats keep piling up against SEIU. SEIU’s latest legal humiliation wasn’t just a defeat but a humiliation. SEIU “Local 775 filed suit to block the Freedom Foundation, a Washington State-based free-market think tank, from reaching out to home health aides to inform them they could no longer be compelled to pay union dues and fees following a 2014 Supreme Court ruling. King County Superior Court Judge Steve Rosen granted a summary judgment on Friday tossing the union’s claim that the group’s outreach constituted ‘tortious interference,’ in which a party causes economic harm to another.”

Make no mistake about SEIU’s lawsuit. SEIU’s losing streak is bad for business. Their stature and confidence are getting shattered. People understand that public employee unions can’t force employees to pay union dues. That’s resulting in a significant loss of revenue to PEUs. That’s resulting in SEIU losing political relevance, which is the threat most feared by the unions.

“The Freedom Foundation has prevailed on the merits every time a judge has considered them in this lawsuit,” foundation chief litigation counsel David Dewhirst said. “For the unions, this case isn’t about the merits. It’s about inflicting maximum damage against the Freedom Foundation through the discovery process. And it’s also about stalling for time because with every day that goes by, more dues money comes out of the paychecks of people who may not even know they’re in a union, let alone share its values.”

This video summarizes the lawsuit beautifully:

SEIU Local 925 in Washington lost about half of its dues paying members after home daycare workers were no longer forced to keep paying dues, according a 2015 Freedom Foundation report.

If this doesn’t sound like a death spiral, nothing will:

“Nearly half of Washington’s approximately 7,000 family child care providers have exercised their newly acknowledged rights and left SEIU 925 since the Harris decision. The percentage of providers paying dues to the union fell from 100 percent in July 2014 to 53.2 percent (3,738) in May 2015,” the report said.

That’s what happens when people have a choice on whether to join a PEU.

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There’s little doubt that Democrats think Obamacare is a winning issue. That’s the message sent from their filing a lawsuit aimed at forcing President Trump into paying the Obama-era subsidies. The Democrat AGs have 2 major problems staring at them. The first deals with a legal issue. The other deals with a political issue.

First, let’s deal with the legal issue. The AGs’ problem is that they’re attempting to compel President Trump to pay out money that hasn’t been appropriated by Congress. That isn’t opinion. It’s a finding of fact by a federal district court judge. George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley was the lead counsel for the House of Representatives in their actions against President Obama. According to Prof. Turley, what happened was that the ACA provided for subsidies to insurance companies. The bad news for President Obama was that he needed Congress to appropriate the money for those subsidies. When Congress said no, President Obama ordered the Treasury Department to pay the subsidies.

As Professor Turley explains in this video, the court ruled in Congress’s favor:

According to the article, “The states are asking the court to force the Trump administration to make the next payment to insurers, scheduled for Oct. 18. In a separate court case, the Justice Department notified a federal appeals in court in Washington Friday that payment ‘would not occur.'”

In their filing, the AGs “claim that Trump’s decision to halt the payments constitute an attempt by the president ‘to gut the health and well-being of our country.'” The reality is that President Trump is sending the message that he’ll follow the Constitution’s instructions for appropriating money. The ACA allowed Congress to appropriate money. It didn’t instruct Congress to appropriate money for these subsidies.

As for the political problem, Democrats are hoping that they can portray Republicans as heartless, which is pretty much the Democrats’ entire playbook. Republicans’ reply should immediately be that they’re prepared to work out a long-term fix of the ACA but that it requires Democrats to engage in good-faith negotiations.

That’s the last thing that Democrats want. They’d prefer demagoguing the issue. Unfortunately for them, this issue is too sensitive for that. That isn’t to say that Republicans are in the clear on this. It’s just that this turns into a wash, with both sides getting hit with negatives.

Professor Turley nailed it when he said “We don’t have a lot of options in the democratic process. You can compromise and try to convince people in Congress or you can try to change Congress but you can’t circumvent Congress.” President Obama tried ignoring Congress. The courts shot him down. Now, these Democrat AGs are going to try re-litigating the case that President Obama just lost. Good luck with that.

I can’t say that I’m surprised to hear that Sen. Franken is upset that Judiciary blue slips are soon disappearing. I said in this post that Sen. Franken had spent lots of political capital fighting against Justice Stras’s confirmation to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.

After Sen. McConnell announced that blue slips wouldn’t be used as a one-man veto, Sen. Franken announced that he hasn’t given up the fight.

In a statement, Franken said “‘[I]n an attempt to stack the courts with right-wing judges, powerful special interests and conservative groups are pressuring Senate Republicans to kill off the blue slip’. ‘In the face of this pressure, I urge Chairman Grassley to demonstrate the same integrity that [past Democratic chairman] Senator [Patrick] Leahy demonstrated and to protect the prerogatives of all senators — Republican and Democratic alike.'”

What a whiner. I didn’t hear Franken tell President Obama or Sen. Reid that the judges that they stacked the DC Circuit Court of Appeal with were too progressive. Sen. Franken is the ‘senator with a glass jaw.’ Further, it’s a bit much to hear Sen. Franken say that Justice Stras is too conservative when retired Justice Alan Page said “We write to urge that the Senate Judiciary Committee and the U.S. Senate act expeditiously to confirm the nomination of Minnesota Associate Supreme Court Justice David R. Stras to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. Justice Stras has all the attributes and qualifications necessary to make an excellent circuit court judge.”

I suspect that Sen. Franken is the extremist, not Justice Stras:

Franken has said he finds Stras too conservative to support. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals already has a number of conservative judges, he argued.

So what? As the last president said in the early days of his administration, “I won.” If Sen. Franken doesn’t like the judges that President Trump nominated, he should try running for president and winning the election. Apparently, Sen. Franken doesn’t like the part about elections having consequences except when Democrats win.

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Al Franken tried playing hardball with President Trump’s judicial nominations. This morning, he found out what it’s like to be part of the minority party. That’s because Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, said that “Republicans will scrap the chamber’s ‘blue slip’ tradition, eliminating a tool of the minority to block the executive’s judicial nominees.”

Fred Barnes’ article highlights the steps that Sen. McConnell will implement to get President Trump’s judicial nominees confirmed. They include confirming “judicial nominees has been elevated to a top priority in the Senate. ‘I decide the priority,’ McConnell said in an interview.” Further, Sen. McConnell said that “Republicans will treat a blue slip ‘as simply notification of how you’re going to vote, not as an opportunity to blackball.'”

This won’t sit well with Democrats. It’s likely that Sen. Franken will be particularly upset because he spent lots of political capital fighting “David Stras’ nomination to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals last month.” Now all he’s got to show for his efforts is a reputation as a partisan hack and a bruised ego.

This isn’t just about losing this fight. It’s about the fact that retired Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page joined with other justices in writing this glowing op-ed. It opens by saying this:

To U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar, Al Franken, Chuck Grassley, Dianne Feinstein, Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer:

We write to urge that the Senate Judiciary Committee and the U.S. Senate act expeditiously to confirm the nomination of Minnesota Associate Supreme Court Justice David R. Stras to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. Justice Stras has all the attributes and qualifications necessary to make an excellent circuit court judge. We have firsthand knowledge that this is true given that we served with him as justices on the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Stras’ résumé sets out the most obvious of his outstanding qualifications that led to his nomination for a seat on the circuit court. He has an excellent academic record, both as a student and professor; experience as a judicial law clerk at the highest levels; experience with a firm engaged in the private practice of law, and excellent research and writing skills as demonstrated by his frequent lectures, scholarly articles and judicial opinions.

Alan Page isn’t just a retired justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court. He’s easily the most liberal justice on the bench in the last 25+ years. When Franken is up for re-election in 2020, I’d recommend that the GOP candidate use this episode to illustrate just how hyperpartisan Sen. Franken is. Thanks to Sen. Franken’s intransigence, the Senate had to change their methods to get this qualified justice confirmed to the federal bench:

Regardless of how the Supreme Court rules in the lawsuit, one thing is abundantly clear. Gov. Dayton didn’t (and hasn’t) negotiated in good faith during the so-called budget session. When Republicans finished their budget targets ahead of schedule, they did that so Gov. Dayton’s administration could participate in final negotiations. Gov. Dayton refused to participate until the 11th hour, virtually assuring a special session. Now that the lawsuit is heading towards a final resolution (hopefully), Gov. Dayton is pretending like he’s fought fair. He hasn’t.

In fact, he’s made statements that only a dishonest politician could make, saying “Anybody who is going to try to sabotage somebody else’s initiatives, and it goes both ways, because of spite from previous altercations is really doing a disservice to Minnesota and should be called out for doing so.”

First, sabotaging other people’s initiatives doesn’t go both ways. It points in one direction only. Hint: it doesn’t point in the Legislature’s or the Judiciary’s direction. Gov. Dayton signed the GOP tax bill that he’d agreed to. If he hadn’t agreed to that specific language, Gov. Dayton wouldn’t have called the special session. That’s the most leverage a governor has during negotiations.

Further, Gov. Dayton hasn’t attempted to reduce the regulatory jungle, especially with regard to pipeline construction or mining. Had he done what President Trump’s been doing, Minnesota’s economy would be flourishing instead of treading water. If Minnesota’s economy was flourishing, we could ‘afford’ a bigger tax relief package with ease.

Finally, Gov. Dayton has really only been the governor of the Twin Cities and Duluth. He hasn’t been a pro-Iron Range governor. He definitely hasn’t been a pro-rural Minnesota governor. (If he had, the DFL wouldn’t be virtually extinct in places like Alexandria, Brainerd, Crookston and Detroit Lakes. Gov. Dayton has sided with the Metrocrat wing of the DFL so often that the DFL might qualify as an endangered specie in rural Minnesota after the 2018 election.

This fight isn’t helping the DFL’s gubernatorial candidates. First, it isn’t that the Twin Cities media will ask them about Gov. Dayton’s bad faith negotiating tactics. It’s that voters will wonder whether the DFL will resort to these tactics if they’re elected. Hint: They definitely would. Each day that it’s out there, people will question whether the DFL is committed to bringing people together.

As he’s done before, Gov. Dayton reneged on a promise he’d made to GOP leadership. That’s why, if anyone is guilty of sabotaging “somebody else’s initiatives,” it’s Gov. Dayton. Gov. Dayton created this crisis by not negotiating in good faith. Now he expects Republicans to trust him? I don’t think so.

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