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Earlier this week, I wrote about Paul Gazelka’s Strib op-ed in this post but I missed Speaker Daudt’s op-ed. I’m upset with myself that I did. That’s because Speaker Daudt’s op-ed opened my eyes to something that I hadn’t considered previously.

The first paragraph that caught my attention was when Speaker Daudt wrote “That’s why at the end of the last legislative session, I was so proud of the historically productive results we achieved. A Republican-led House and Senate worked with our Democratic governor and balanced the budget while investing a historic amount into roads and bridges; boosted funding to our schools; passed Real ID enabling Minnesotans to travel; lowered health insurance premiums; and reduced taxes for millions of Minnesotans. Most important, we did it together.”

Lots of people have written about the fact that this was a productive session. There’s no disputing that fact. The paragraph that got my undivided attention was where Speaker Daudt wrote “The Legislature didn’t get everything it wanted, and the governor didn’t get everything he wanted. But in working alongside one another, we brought the session to a productive conclusion. Then, perhaps after hearing complaints from members of his own party, Gov. Mark Dayton expressed second thoughts about the compromises he had negotiated. Despite personally having agreed to each and every one of the bills, including the amount and provisions within the tax relief bill, the governor tried to go back on his word. He line-item-vetoed funding for the Legislature in an attempt to force us back to the negotiating table.”

Think about that a split-second. Neither the governor nor the legislature got everything they wanted but they negotiated a deal that both supposedly could live with. After Gov. Dayton agreed to the size of the tax relief bill and the provisions in it, the legislature passed the bill and sent it to Gov. Dayton. Despite the agreement and the fact that Gov. Dayton got lots of the things he’d prioritized, Gov. Dayton line-item vetoed the funding for the legislature.

Gov. Dayton said he vetoed their funding to coerce the legislature into renegotiating the Tax Bill. I’m betting that isn’t why he vetoed it. I’m betting that his special interest allies told him that they were vehemently opposed to the tax bill for ideological reasons. In 2011, Gov. Dayton reneged on a budget agreement he’d negotiated with then-Speaker Zellers and then-Senate Majority Leader Koch. They reached an agreement. They returned to their caucuses to tell them they had a deal. When they returned to Gov. Dayton’s office, they learned that Rep. Thissen and Sen. Bakk talked Gov. Dayton into reneging on the deal that he’d agreed to and initialed.

There’s a significant part of Gov. Dayton that simply can’t sign a bill unless he’s certain he’s getting the better end of the agreement. He’s simply too rigid. That’s why 3 of the 4 budget sessions during Gov. Dayton’s time in office required a special session. What’s particularly upsetting is that Gov. Dayton won’t admit that he’s attempting to preserve his bargaining leverage when the legislature returns in February. Both sides know that the legislature has some reserve funds that they can use but they both know that it isn’t enough to fund the legislature for the rest of the biennium.

It’s also upsetting to hear Gov. Dayton accuse the legislature of lying to him and to the Supreme Court:

Gov. Dayton needs to quit with his my-way-or-the-highway shtick. It’s getting old.

Sen. Dan Sullivan’s op-ed highlights many of the Democrats’ anti-democratic tactics. Sen. Sullivan’s op-ed frequently highlights how environmental activists use weaponized government to kill infrastructure and energy projects. For instance, environmental activists used anti-democratic tactics, noting that the “Pentagon was built in 16 months. The 1,500-mile Alaska-Canadian Highway, which passes through some of the world’s most rugged terrain, took about eight months. Today, infrastructure projects across America often require several years simply to get through the federal government’s pre-build permitting process.”

Next, Sen. Sullivan notes that new “U.S. highway construction projects usually take between nine and 19 years from initial planning and permitting to completion of construction, according to a 2002 Government Accountability Office study. It will have taken 14 years to permit an expansion of Gross Reservoir in Colorado, and it took almost 20 years to permit the Kensington gold mine in Alaska. It took four years to construct a new runway at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, but it took 15 years to get the permits.”

Those aren’t the only examples Sen. Sullivan, (R-AK), cites. Here’s another pair of examples:

It took Shell seven years and $7 billion to get White House permission to drill a single oil-exploration well off the coast of Alaska. Never mind that the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act requires that resources in those waters “be made available for expeditious and orderly development.” This capricious permitting was part of why Shell halted its operations in Alaska, stranding enormous oil and gas resources and killing thousands of potential jobs.

The Keystone XL pipeline languished in permitting purgatory for almost the entire two terms of the Obama administration before the president finally killed it in 2015. Terry O’Sullivan, president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, called the president’s actions a “cynical manipulation of the approval process.” President Obama also recently halted the Dakota Access pipeline, though in September a federal court determined that the project complied with arduous permitting, legal and consultation requirements.

Gov. Dayton’s first MPCA commissioner, Paul Aasen, bragged in an op-ed about litigating the Big Stone II power plant in South Dakota into quitting.

Though then-Candidate Trump didn’t say this during the campaign, when he talked about America’s crumbling infrastructure, he should’ve said that it’s crumbling because environmental activists have virtually litigated these projects to death. Rarely do you hear about light rail projects coming under scrutiny. I’ve never heard of a wind farm getting subjected to this type of scrutiny. Why haven’t we?

This is the solution:

Mr. Trump is set to reverse the Obama administration’s abysmal permitting record, but Congress also has a responsibility. Last year I introduced the Regulations Endanger Democracy Act, or RED Tape Act, which would cap federal regulations with a simple one-in-one-out rule. When an agency issues a new regulation, it must repeal an old one. (Mr. Trump has suggested removing two for every one that is added.) Even though the idea has been successfully implemented in Canada and the United Kingdom, not a single Senate Democrat voted for it, and the legislation died.

Another bill I wrote would expedite federal permitting to repair or rebuild thousands of crumbling bridges across our country, but it received only three Democratic votes on the Senate floor. Once again my colleagues across the aisle prevented this reform from being implemented.

It’s time to tell Democrats that we won’t let them get away with these anti-progress tactics without them getting scrutinized in public. Let’s instruct them that each time they use these tactics, they should expect political attacks that demand Democrats to defend their votes against streamlining government. Let’s hear them explain why they’re standing in the way of major infrastructure projects.

Democrats haven’t lifted a finger to streamline the permitting process. Why haven’t they? I think it’s clear that they’re sitting silent because that’s what their environmental activist allies want. It’s time to start doing what’s right for all Americans rather than doing what’s right for the special interests.

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