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Now that the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission has said that the Line 3 Pipeline replacement is needed, a new round of litigation is certain to follow. That’s because PUC’s findings “differs from the Minnesota Department of Commerce’s opinion that Line 3 is unnecessary for the state.”

This is what’s wrong with Minnesota’s regulatory system.

According to the article, “The utilities commissioners have many options for what to do regarding Line 3. They could outright deny it, or agree with the staff conclusion and grant a certificate of need. Or they could approve Enbridge’s plan but only under certain conditions. The commissioners could choose some combination of 12 different conditions, such as requiring renewable energy to offset the pipeline’s impact or setting up a fund to remove the old line.”

Or they could choose to throw darts at the report and ignore it entirely. I’m half-kidding, of course. It isn’t surprising that these projects take 10+ years to approve. The market should determine whether a pipeline is required. The last thing we need are a bunch of political busybodies telling us what we need and what we don’t. These aren’t experts. They’re activists with different opinions. Minnesota needs layers of regulators like property owners need arsonists on their payroll.

It’s time to streamline this process so a quick decision can be made. Further, it’s time to call these environmental activists out. They’re putting themselves first instead of putting the country first. Put a different way, these environmental activists aren’t patriots. They should be ashamed of themselves. Period.

With the DFL primaries likely to be contentious, some major rifts have gotten exposed. In his weekly commentary, Harold Hamilton noted that “the DFL is wholly funded, owned, and operated by the wealthy urban elites who hail from about three zip codes in Minneapolis and Saint Paul. These king makers are extremely liberal in their world view and thus support candidates who are extremely liberal in their world view. In short, the DFL establishment these days favors extreme liberals who hail from the urban core.” (Hamilton predicts that Erin Murphy and Keith Ellison will win their primaries and be the DFL’s general election candidates for governor and AG respectively.)

That necessarily means some awfully hurt feelings. As Hamilton said, “Lori Swanson specifically pointed out in her announcement that she was running for governor that she is in favor of gun rights, a hot button topic. Erin Murphy, on the other hand, is a gun grabber and has no regard for the Second Amendment, as does her running mate.”

Anyone that thinks rural DFLers and metro DFLers won’t duke it out over the Second Amendment is kidding themselves. This is one of the existential fights that DFL Chair Ken Martin has tried avoiding for 5+ years. Hamilton noted that “there is a growing schism between the party’s urban, liberal faction and its rural ‘Reagan Democrat’ pragmatic faction.” Here at LFR, I’ve been chronicling that schism for years. It’s inevitable that the divorce happen.

Mitch Berg correctly notes that “It’s pretty clear the DFL is sliding toward Metro-only status. If they lose CD8 and possibly CD1 this year (both are more possible than at any time in years), and with the knowledge that Colin Peterson’s Potemkin seat in CD7 will never be replaced by a Democrat again when he retires), it’ll really be official, even if they someday flip CD3.”

Tonight on Almanac, the 3 DFL gubernatorial candidates did their best to spin the differences between rural issues and metro issues. They failed. Each played nice to a certain degree, though Erin Murphy definitely attacked Walz on the NRA. When rural voters hear that, it’s inevitable that they think the DFL is the party of gun grabbers. What’s clear is that these candidates either don’t understand rural voters or are too busy pandering to city voters.

Murphy and Maye Quade have opposed pipelines and mining. They voted for the buffer strips, too. These positions will alienate rural voters. Amy Koch nails it during the roundtable:

During the Roundtable, Eric Eskola mentioned the Eighth District DFL Primary. They’d run out the environmentalist in that race. Now, 2 more environmentalists have filed to run in the primary. These candidates won’t win but they will keep that fight fresh through August. That isn’t just a disagreement. Potentially, it might turn into a civil war.

If the DFL can’t resolve these major differences, a divorce is inevitable. It’s just a matter of when.

This LTE highlights what I think is a Range war. It starts by saying “I got a big chuckle out of comments by Governor Mark Dayton (MDN 5/13) ‘Everyone on the Range should know: the state government is on your side.’ In fact, I still can’t stop laughing! His comments remind me of the old adage ‘The Three Biggest Lies: the check is in the mail, of course I’ll still respect you in the morning and I’m from the government…I’m here to help you.'”

One thing comes through clearly in that opening: Rangers don’t trust Gov. Dayton. That should frighten whoever becomes the DFL gubernatorial candidate. Tim Walz’s Lt. Gov. pick is a wild-eyed environmentalist. That’s before considering the fact that Walz was a longtime NRA member who just threw that record overboard to win the endorsement. While she was part of the Executive Council, Rebecca Otto voted against approving a series of exploratory mining leases, then sent out a fundraising letter bragging that she’d stood up to big mining corporations. Finally, Erin Murphy is an unknown quantity in terms of mining policy but who is the most progressive of the 3 DFL finalists. Why would a Ranger trust her on mining issues?

Mark Dayton is a poor little rich kid from Minneapolis whose fortune is invested in trust in South Dakota to escape Minnesota taxes. He is personally and ideologically aligned with the environmental wacko movement and his heart and soul is not with us on the Range.

Dayton will do what he thinks the Range needs, not what the Range knows it needs.

The DFL has literally run the Range into the ground for decades. That isn’t hyperbole. When confronted with the Range’s high unemployment years ago, IRRRB Chairman Tony Sertich said (sorry, I’m paraphrasing here) that that’s been that way for years. The statistics verify that.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The Republican Party is the new home for construction workers, farmers and miners. The DFL doesn’t understand blue collar workers any more. The DFL has fought and is fighting against new pipeline construction (Sandpiper) or old pipeline (Line 3) replacement.

The DFL has shut its doors to blue collar workers. Their policies haven’t helped the Range in decades. Literally.

Sen. John Marty’s Earth Day op-ed contains every talking point in the environmentalist’s arsenal. If not for the alarmism, Sen. Marty’s op-ed would be blank.

Early in the op-ed, Sen. Marty wrote “The Earth is our only home. There is no Plan(et) B that we can move to.” Sen. Marty then wrote “Baking our planet, our only home, through fossil fuel emissions, will cause changes that we cannot fully imagine.”

Next come the predictions:

  • More severe blizzards and heat waves, droughts and floods, tornadoes, forest fires, and mudslides.
  • Rising oceans will create millions of climate refugees, people forced to move from low-lying coastal areas.
  • The number of refugees, displaced persons and asylum-seekers we have seen in the last couple decades is small compared to those who might be forced to flee their homes because of climate. The refugees of 2018 are causing great political turmoil, extremism, and hatred, in Europe, the United States, and throughout the world. Imagine the chaos that will result if we multiply the situation with climate refugees.
  • Species will become extinct. Not just rare plants and animals that we have hardly heard of. And not just polar bears. It has the potential to wipe out the human species as we know it.

Where is Sen. Marty getting these predictions from? We have “the potential to wipe out the human species as we know it? Who knew? I guess God’s out of business then.

Just when I started wondering whether this was just another unhinged rant from Sen. Marty, he got to a point:

The decision on building the Enbridge Line 3 replacement pipeline is truly a litmus test of whether Minnesota is serious about addressing the climate change that threatens our very existence. The PUC must understand that reality when it rules on whether to grant approval for the Pipeline. The Legislature, which is currently considering legislation to bypass the PUC and give Enbridge “sole discretion” to build and operate the pipeline, needs to understand the consequences of this action, whether legislators care about the climate impact or not.

Enbridge and its political allies might win on the tar sands pipeline this year. But they, and the rest of the human race, will ultimately pay the price.

Wow! What a lunatic. I didn’t think this possible but Sen. Marty sounds more crazy talking about the environment than when he’s talking about single-payer health care.

When the Minnesota Senate passed SF2983, it did the right thing. Sen. John Marty is upset with the bill’s passage but it’s the right thing to do.

After the bill passed, Sen. Marty said “Declaring the science something you don’t like does not mean it is bad science. We’re basically saying as a Legislature that we don’t like the results you came up with so we’re going to declare it bad science.” Actually, Justin Eichorn’s bill is rock-solid on multiple fronts. Most importantly, a U of M study, which I wrote about in this post, said that “rice growth was stunted except when there was a high concentration of iron in the water. The study found that iron mitigated the damage sulfur caused to the rice.”

Therefore, Sen. Eichorn voted for the bill that’s been verified by multiple scientific studies:

In 2013 the state hired the University of Minnesota to do a scientific study of the effects of sulfates on wild rice and to determine what the standard should be. Also the Minnesota chamber hired an independent laboratory to do the same. Both studies agree that sulfate is not toxic to wild rice. The studies also found that if sulfates turn to sulfides it does slow the growth of wild rice. However if there is iron present in the water, iron combines with the sulfides and doesn’t allow the sulfides to affect the wild rice.

Sen. Marty is the politician who is fighting verified scientific findings.

Sen. Justin Eichorn, R-Grand Rapids, said he’s willing to work with the agency on a compromise but finds its current route untenable. Bill supporters argue that tougher discharge standards could prove costly for local communities, which could be forced to upgrade wastewater treatment facilities with expensive technology. They also say it would stifle industry, particularly mining companies.

“This bill will put a stop to what’s going on now, take a pause and go back to the drawing board,” Eichorn said, “and make sure if we are going to do something that everybody is on board and everybody gets a seat at the table, including industry, including municipalities, including environmental groups and government.”

If Democrats want to have a chance at winning back the US House, they’ll need to prove that they won’t consistently side with Big Environment, aka Big Green. During the Obama administration, Big Mining got the shaft without getting the mining project. Salena Zito’s latest article suggests that Democrats are rebuilding their relationship with Big Labor.

The union voters I talked to said they didn’t feel that Democrats in Washington had their back; that they were too progressive, too strident, and way out of touch with their lives and needs. “I think there were two factors at play with how union members, many union members turned away from the Democratic Party,” said Mike Mikus, a western Pennsylvania Democratic strategist who does campaign work for several unions. One is that they didn’t feel their economic issues needed to be addressed and pretty frankly it was in the Democratic playbook to play to the center meant taking on organized labor rather than any other Democratic constituency,” he said.

I’m not convinced that Democrats have figured it out yet, though. I don’t doubt that some Democrats have made the decision to support mining. That will give those Democrats a fighting chance in some districts. The problem is that they’re still part of a Democratic Party that’s dominated by environmental activists.

The Democratic Party won’t part ways with the environmental activists. The miners still remember this:

or this:

Tom Steyer and Alita Messenger won’t tolerate a significant shift back to mining, which is where most union workers are employed. The other industry where lots of union workers are employed is construction. Democrats still fight tooth-and-nail against pipeline projects. If I ran the NRCC, I’d remind voters in the heartland that Democrats are still funded by environmental activists. As long as that’s the case, labor will get shafted by the Democrats.

President Trump hasn’t been bashful in calling Nancy Pelosi the “Republicans’ secret weapon” in the 2018 election. Perhaps the President needs to rethink that opinion. It isn’t that Pelosi has quickly gotten popular. She’s still as unpopular as ants at a picnic. It’s that Chuck Schumer’s popularity has taken a significant dip recently.

The latest Quinnipiac University Poll “found that 53 percent of voters approve of the job the minority leader is doing in the Senate, while 35 percent do not approve. That is the lowest approval rating Schumer has received since 1999, just months after he was first elected to the U.S. Senate.”

Sen. Schumer is a major drag on battleground state Democrats. How many Democrat senators he’ll hurt remains to be seen but his decisions have already contributed to the Democrats’ vulnerable situation going into 2018. The #SchumerShutdown hurt immensely. The only thing that’s hurt Democrats more was unanimously rejecting the Trump/GOP tax cuts. As a result, Democrats should consider a net loss of less than 5 seats in the Senate a moral victory.

The latest Democrat mistake is rejecting President Trump’s immigration plan. The Common Sense Coalition’s plan isn’t serious about border security, which I explained in this post:

On Pg. 51 of the amendment, we learn that $1,571,000,000,000 is appropriated to build President Trump’s wall in 2018. Further, $2,500,000,000,000 is available to be appropriated in each year starting in 2019 and going through 2027. Further, the legislative language states that “the amount specified in subsection (d) for each of fiscal years 2019-2027 shall not be available for such fiscal year unless (A) the Secretary submits to Congress, not later than 60 days before the start of such fiscal year a report setting forth a description of every planned expenditure…, (B) a description of the total number of miles of security fencing… etc.

The money isn’t appropriated all at once, meaning that future congresses can stop the building of the wall. Don’t think President Trump won’t campaign against red state Democrats on that issue this fall. I’d bet the proverbial ranch that will be a major thorn in the Democrats’ sides.

Democrats shouldn’t think that they have political cover on this, either. Just because Jeff Flake, Lindsey Graham and Bob Corker signed onto the bill doesn’t provide cover. It simply means the American people reject them, saying a pox on all their houses. The American people want real border security. They aren’t interested in political gamesmanship, which is what the Collins-Durbin-Graham bill was. This video is misleading:

Just $1,571,000,000 is appropriated to build the wall. The rest of the money is promised but not appropriated. Sound familiar?

Democrats are playing a risky game. Don’t bet on it turning out well for them this fall.

UPDATE: This video exposes Democrats:

Thursday night, I wrote this post about Sen. Cwodzinski’s interview with a local paper. One of the things covered was infrastructure. The reporter asked “What are your thoughts about the latest delays in the Southwest Light Rail Transit project?” Sen. Cwodzinski replied “These delays are completely unacceptable. Our state has put together the resources necessary to get this done, and now the federal government is leaving us waiting. As I said earlier though, I am very hopeful that out state and the federal government can build an effective partnership on infrastructure. Southwest LRT is the cornerstone of that, so am hopeful that we will receive the federal funds this year.”

It’s time for Sen. Cwodzinski to stop relying on wishful thinking. It’s time for him to deal with reality. Kim Crockett’s article reports that the “FTA is not recommending funding for any projects in Minnesota. The projects that have applied for federal funds are Southwest LRT, Bottineau LRT, the Metro Orange Line bus rapid transit along 35W, and the Metro Gold Line bus rapid transit in St. Paul. The FTA is limiting funding to ‘projects with existing full funding grant agreements. For the remaining projects in the CIG program, FTA is not requesting or recommending funding. Future investments in new transit projects would be funded by the localities that use and benefit from these localized projects.'”

This is a major blow to Gov. Dayton and Sen. Cwodzinski.

The Met Council, under [Gov. Dayton’s] leadership, developed a long-term transportation and housing plan that was entirely based on light rail expansion into the suburbs, with subsidized housing along the LRT to drive ridership and transform the metro area under a vision called “Thrive MSP 2040.”

The plan has been rejected by the five suburban counties in the metro area. The Legislature in 2017 withdrew its support from Southwest LRT and placed the Met Council under a quarterly audit by the Office of Legislative Auditor.

Apparently, Sen. Cwodzinski isn’t in touch with his constituents. They’ve rejected the Met Council’s vision for transportation. Seeing that, the GOP legislature pulled funding for these boondoggles, then ordered quarterly audits of the Met Council by the legislative auditor’s office. I’d consider that a harsh slap to the Met Council’s face. After watching this video, hopefully lots of people will think that the Met Council needs a harsh slap in the face:

First, my compliments to the ladies that put the video together. It’s long overdue. Well done. After watching it, I’m questioning what (if?) Gov. Dayton and Sen. Cwodzinski were thinking. Next, Sen. Cwodzinski’s constituents should ask themselves if they’re ok with unaccountable central planners making expensive decisions that dictate what types of things their cities and their neighborhoods will have.

Finally and most importantly, people should question whether they like the thought of not having a say in their neighborhood’s matters. I’m betting that they’d prefer keeping their decisions in their hands, not in the Met Council’s hands.

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Apparently, Steve Cwodzinski isn’t capable of telling the truth. In this recent interview, Sen. Cwodzinski was asked “What are the biggest issues facing your district this session?” Sen. Cwodzinski’s reply was “Right now, the thing I am hearing most about from my constituents is the federal tax bill, and the increased taxes that they will pay because of it. The cap of $10,000 for deductions of state and local taxes will massively impact residents of Senate District 48. I am hopeful that both DFLers and Republicans can come together to find a way to reclassify some state taxes and restore these deductions.”

First, the truth is that everyone’s tax rates have dropped. That’s indisputable fact. Next, numerous studies have verified that the only people who will pay more in taxes are upper middle class people who itemize their deductions rather than accept the standard deduction. The chances of there being a significant number of people who fit into that category in Sen. Cwodzinski’s district is minimal. This is a DFL talking point. Period. Third, it’s important to note that people living in high tax states are paying more than people living in low tax states but that doesn’t mean that they’ll pay more in taxes next year than they’ll pay this year.

If the DFL doesn’t figure it out that we’re losing wealth to other states because of our high taxes, it won’t be long before we’re in the same sad shape as California and Illinois. The truth that the DFL has denied is that we’re losing wealth to other states in all age categories. That’s been happening for years.

This has stupidity written all over it:

What should the legislature do about the $43 million request by Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration to fix the Minnesota License and Registration System?
This is an incredibly difficult issue. If we do have the funds, and are not in a deficit, I would still like to know what other options there are. I’m not sure what choice we have other than seeing this through but have been working to see what possibilities we have.

Here’s a thought: the bureaucrats failed miserably and repeatedly. It’s time to hire a private company to fix this immediately. That $43,000,000 isn’t coming from an ATM. It’s coming from taxpayers. DFL politicians like Sen. Cwodzinski haven’t demanded accountability. They’ve essentially thrown their hands up, then thrown money at the problem in the hope of doing the same thing will produce a different result.

That’s the definition of insanity. That’s why the DFL should be stripped of its ability to govern. The DFL has earned a place on the sidelines. That starts with Gov. Dayton and continues through Sen. Cwodzinski and other DFL politicians.

What are your thoughts about the latest delays in the Southwest Light Rail Transit project?
These delays are completely unacceptable. Our state has put together the resources necessary to get this done, and now the federal government is leaving us waiting. As I said earlier though, I am very hopeful that out state and the federal government can build an effective partnership on infrastructure. Southwest LRT is the cornerstone of that, so am hopeful that we will receive the federal funds this year.

Hopefully, President Trump will prevent money from reaching boondoggles like SWLRT. Let those projects die.

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The Common Sense Coalition’s amendment is pretty much a bait-and-switch con job piece of legislation. For starters, amnesty for DACA recipients is immediate. That isn’t surprising. Next, building President Trump’s wall isn’t a priority. On Pg. 51 of the amendment, we learn that $1,571,000,000,000 is appropriated to build President Trump’s wall in 2018. Further, $2,500,000,000,000 is available to be appropriated in each year starting in 2019 and going through 2027. Further, the legislative language states that “the amount specified in subsection (d) for each of fiscal years 2019-2027 shall not be available for such fiscal year unless (A) the Secretary submits to Congress, not later than 60 days before the start of such fiscal year a report setting forth a description of every planned expenditure…, (B) a description of the total number of miles of security fencing… etc.

In other words, they’re limiting the speed with which the wall can be built. Further. they’re making it possible for future Democratic administrations to kill the building of the wall.

Simply put, this bill has no chance of getting 6o votes. It doesn’t stand a chance of getting signed into law, either. Here’s a picture of most of the members of the Common Sense Coalition:

It’s worth noting that a significant percentage of these senators are either retiring or will be defeated this fall. Sen. Donnelly fits that description. Jeff Flake definitely fits that description. Joe Manchin is inching closer to fitting that description. Heidi Heitkamp definitely fits that description. Claire McCaskill and Bill Nelson fit that description. The senators from New Hampshire don’t exactly fit the description but they’re getting there. Bob Corker fits that description.

Simply put, most of the senators in the Common Sense Coalition won’t be in the Senate a year from now. That doesn’t mean they don’t have the right to vote. That’s their right until their replacement is sworn in, either after their retirement or their defeat. What it means, though, is that members of the Coalition don’t care about national security. They certainly aren’t interested in listening to the people. Thus far, they haven’t listened to the people.

This coalition isn’t made up of principled politicians. It’s made up of elitists who aren’t interested in listening to the people. Chuck Grassley is the senior senator from Iowa. He isn’t part of that Coalition. He’s just a politician who’s interested in doing the right thing, both for DACA recipients and for national security. He’s the chief author of a bill that’s been endorsed by President Trump. It’s the only bill that the Senate will debate that President Trump will sign or should sign. Listen to Sen. Grassley’s speech explaining why senators should vote for his legislation:

The text of Sen. Grassley’s bill, known as the Secure and Succeed Act, is significantly different than the CSC’s legislation. The biggest difference between the 2 bills is that the Grassley bill appropriates the money for the wall right away. In the section titled “Subtitle C—Border Security Enforcement Fund” the following appropriations are made:

The Secretary shall transfer, 8 from the Fund to the “U.S. Customs and Border 9 Protection—Procurement, Construction and Improvements” account, for the purpose described in 11 subsection (a)(1), $18,000,000,000, of which— 12 (A) $1,571,000,000 shall be transferred in 13 fiscal year 2018; 14 (B) $1,600,000,000 shall be transferred in fiscal year 2019; 16 (C) $1,842,000,000 shall be transferred in fiscal year 2020; (D) $2,019,000,000 shall be transferred in 19 fiscal year 2021; (E) $2,237,000,000 shall be transferred in fiscal year 2022; (F) $1,745,000,000 shall be transferred in fiscal year 2023; 177 (G) $1,746,000,000 shall be transferred in fiscal year 2024; (H) $1,776,000,000 shall be transferred in fiscal year 2025; (I) $1,746,000,000 shall be transferred in fiscal year 2026; and (J) $1,718,000,000 shall be transferred in fiscal year 2027.

Barring an act of Congress, the money for President Trump’s wall will be appropriated this year.

The Common Sense Coalition’s bill appropriates approximately $1,700,000,000,000 this year, then requires separate appropriations in the years following to build the wall. The Grassley bill appropriates the money immediately.

It’s worth noting that Democrats have the proverbial gun pointed at their heads. If Democrats don’t agree to President Trump’s conditions, DACA collapses and the recipients hold Democrats responsible. Remember this?

The chances for a repeat of that scene is high if Democrats don’t deliver.

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