Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

In a session that saw tons of weird things happen, finding out that Sen. John Marty and other Twin Cities DFL senators tried ousting Sen. Bakk as majority leader ranks right up there:

ST. PAUL — How successful of a job did Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk of Cook do for the Iron Range while also being a key player in making split government in Minnesota work? Well, some disgruntled DFL liberal legislators from the Twin Cities area tried to unseat him in caucus as leader of the majority party in the Senate.

Their attempted DFL coup in the early morning hours of the Saturday finale of the 2015 legislative special session fizzled like a bad fuse on an unexploded firecracker. Bakk’s support within the caucus was unwavering.

The Senate majority leader told the Mesabi Daily News Saturday afternoon that while he preferred not to comment directly about the caucus dust-up, he was pleased with the intra-Senate DFL backing he received and also his role in a session that relied for success on bipartisan partnerships with the GOP House majority.

By now, saying that the DFL is fractured isn’t news. That’s been established for at least a month. In fact, we’ve known that the split is essentially a geographic split.

It isn’t hyperbole to say that the Metro DFL, in their minds, have put up with Range DFLers on environmental views because they needed the Range delegation’s votes on their economic policies. This feud was obvious during the DFL’s 2014 State Convention. That’s when the Twin Cities activists, led by DFL State Chairman Ken Martin, fought off a resolution saying that the DFL supports mining. When that was deemed too controversial, it was clear that a fight was brewing.

It looks like the special session was when the fuse reached the explosive.

This should make for an interesting session in 2016. Sen. Bakk doesn’t strike me as someone who forgets these things quickly.

UPDATE: Briana Bierschbach’s post says that the DFL caucus discussion about whether Sen. Bakk should continue happened after the special session had adjourned:

ST. PAUL — The Minnesota House and Senate had adjourned their one-day special session to finish passing the state budget and most lawmakers had gone home, but at 3 a.m. Saturday Senate Democrats were just getting started.

I was originally told that it happened after the Agriculture/Environment Bill had been defeated. This explanation makes more sense. Consider this my correction to my original post.

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This special session wouldn’t play out true to form if there wasn’t a major fight on the Ag/Environment bill. This session hasn’t run smoothly since Sen. Bakk ambushed Gov. Dayton on the commissioners’ pay raise. Since then, the signs of a slow-motion DFL meltdown have been quite visible. Don’t expect that to change.

First, the Metrocrats defeated the Ag/Environment bill. There was much rejoicing amongst the Metrocrats. Now they’re getting worried because the arm-twisting has started to get one of the 32 senators who voted against the bill to a) call for reconsideration of the bill and b) to switch his/her vote against the bill initially to being for the bill this time.

This tweet says it all:

Apparently, DFL legislators and special interests don’t like having to deal with people who don’t agree with them. They think that opposition needs to be squashed immediately and permanently. This is their way of saying that it isn’t fun when they don’t get their way because uppity peasants (that’s us) highlight the foolishness of their policies.

Time after time this session, the DFL fought for policies that the people rejected. First, a plethora of organizations fought against Gov. Dayton’s universal pre-K initiative because it was expensive, filled with unfunded mandate and was unsustainable. Other than that, people liked it. Next, it was Gov. Dayton fighting to repeal a bill he’d already signed. That’s becoming a trend with him. (See repealing B2B sales taxes, though this time, he called for it sooner. LOL)

This year’s biggest difference is that the fighting has been DFL vs. DFL for the most part. Rural DFL is getting more and more upset with Metrocrats by the day. This Ag/Environment bill is just the highest profile example of this fight.

Whatever the outcome today, things won’t end up well for the DFL in November, 2016.

If stupidity was worth its weight in gold, St. Paul, MN would be the richest city in the world today. Here’s what’s happening:

ST. PAUL – A shaky coalition that put together a package of environmental and agricultural programs may not hold up in a coming special session, putting a final piece of the state budget in question.

Just 10 Senate Democrats, a quarter of the majority caucus, voted for that bill, requiring all but one GOP senator to get behind the budget to pass it in late May. Gov. Mark Dayton’s veto gave environmental advocates and urban Democrats a second chance to address concerns that range from eliminating a citizen oversight board at the state’s pollution agency to cracking open funds dedicated for landfill cleanup.

But several Senate Democrats say the changes in the final product don’t go far enough to win their votes. And the Senate’s top Republican said the 25 votes his caucus put up in May could dwindle to just 10 in June as GOP members take issue with the growing size of the state’s total budget.

Republicans are on the verge of eliminating one of the most obstructionist, counterproductive agencies in state government. That, apparently, isn’t enough for these perfectionists. They’re on the verge of voting against a good bill that eliminates the Citizens Review Board. If the bill is defeated, that will give the DFL another opportunity to pass a bill that’s far less friendly. That’s the definition of stupidity.

Let’s hope that these DFL senators are bluffing. If they aren’t, they should be ridiculed mercilessly.

The DFL, meanwhile, is acting almost as foolishly. They’re willing to torpedo a bill that would prevent a government shutdown. If it fails, the DFL will be to blame for a government shutdown. Period. Gov. Dayton vetoed the environment bill initially. Then he agreed to a bill that’s virtually identical only to have the DFL legislature cut his legs out from under him. Republicans will have voted for the bill twice.

On second thought, it’s clear that the DFL is thinking just as foolishly as this handful of GOP senators.

Thanks to this article, I’ve learned something new today. I didn’t know this:

Though the makeup of the group is largely affiliated with the DFL, the Rangers don’t consider their party alignment the most important aspect of their political goals. It all comes down to the Range, whether you’re Democrat or Republican.

I like to make my own decisions and exercise my own independent thinking,” said Anzelc.

The reason I didn’t know that is because Rep. Anzelc’s statement isn’t true. Rep. Anzelc votes like a Metrocrat about 95% of the time. The Range delegation puts up token opposition to the Metrocrats’ environmental regulations, then get bought off by not fighting for the things that would actually improve Rangers’ lives. That isn’t independence. That’s tokenism.

If the Range delegation wanted to be a potent political force, they’d join forces with Republicans each year and insist on a list of high priority items that would create mining jobs. Instead, they keep doing what the Metrocrats want them to do. That isn’t fighting for improving Rangers’ lives. That’s putting party loyalty ahead of loyalty to their constituents.

Common goals are one of the central political strategies of the Rangers, who often face legislative opposition from other parts of the state. While the Range and the metro area are both DFL political strongholds, their lawmakers have different ideas about issues ranging from gun legislation to the environment. Meanwhile, Republicans from other parts of the state have largely had an unsympathetic voting record.

I don’t doubt that Republicans haven’t always voted with the Range delegation. There’s no question, however, that the Metrocrats always vote against the Range delegation on mining issues. In fact, Metrocrats have bragged in fundraising emails that they stood up to the Range delegation.

The thought that Range delegation Democrats are independent is laughable from the standpoint that they haven’t insisted on legislation that opens up mining. Rep. Anzelc rightly states that the Range economy is a natural resource-based economy. The Metrocrats stand vehemently opposed to natural resource-based economies. That won’t change anytime soon.

Rep. Anzelc can spin it that the Range delegation is independent thinking but the truth is that they’re puppets controlled by the Metrocrats.

According to the St. Cloud Downtown Council’s latest newsletter, the lofts that I highlighted in this post are a “game changer.” Here’s what the newsletter said:

We’re hoping that this proposed loft-style market rate condominium will soon be built on the corner of 523 W. St. Germain St.

Today, Downtown is fast becoming the economic, cultural and social center of a dynamic region. Additional housing assures round-the-clock activity and the businesses to support it. According to the latest studies, the trend is going back to “downtown living” because it is more sustainable and simply more enjoyable. St. Cloud’s size, location, and history make it an ideal community to capitalize on these new trends and help pave the way for the future of this city.

We are in a rare position to re-brand our self and capitalize on these emerging trends. The timing is now and together we can continue to create a community that people will be drawn to, not only to visit, but to live. Thank you to all that have been involved in this project along the way for your vision, assistance and support.

The DTC has their fingers crossed; this is a game changer!

That’s some interesting spin. Talking about sustainability in terms of economic development sets off tons of red flags. Economic development and the environmental movement don’t fit together. Further, what studies show downtown St. Cloud turning into “the economic, cultural and social center of a dynamic region”?

If these studies are legitimate, which I’d doubt, why should I accept as fact that these condominiums are the key to revitalizing downtown St. Cloud? If these condominiums are the key to rebranding downtown St. Cloud, what’s the DTC’s Plan B if this doesn’t work?

Better yet, is revitalization of downtown St. Cloud a higher priority than keeping stores from leaving? That’s already happening but we don’t have an answer for why it’s happening. Lots of projects have been tried in downtown St. Cloud over the last 5 years. Most have failed. The ones that haven’t succeeded failed because they tried turning St. Cloud into something it isn’t or because they were totally out of character with St. Cloud.

The condo projects that’ve worked were built in neighborhood settings, not in downtown St. Cloud. Perhaps the Downtown Council should scrap their studies and study that model before supporting this project. (I suspect most of the studies the DTC are more wishful thinking than scholarly studies.)

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Yestedray, I wrote this post to highlight Gov. Dayton’s juvenile jab at North Dakota. Here’s what he said that caught my attention:

“Every night I dream before I go to sleep of mobilizing the National Guard and annexing North Dakota.” He then quickly followed that statement by saying he’d just been interested in annexing the part of the state will oil, “They can have the rest of it.”

Apparently, North Dakotans don’t care about Gov. Dayton’s juvenile statement. This Gallup poll is telling. This graphic is exceptionally telling:

Gov. Dayton and the DFL should study this graphic before making another childish statement:

North Dakotans are not just satisfied with their economy, however. Across the 50 states, North Dakotans are the most likely to rate their K-12 education as excellent or good, to agree that their schools prepare students to get a good job, and to be satisfied with the education system or schools overall.

I can hear Gov. Dayton, the DFL and the Alliance for a Better Minnesota screaming that this can’t be. In Gov. Dayton’s and the DFL’s minds, Minnesota is the education state in the Upper Midwest.

What’s most telling, though, is that Dakotans think their air quality is great. The percentage of people that said they were satisfied with their air quality was the highest in the nation. The percentage of people who said that they were satisfied with their water quality was above average nationally.

Gov. Dayton and the metrocentric DFL should take a look at this:

“Oil is a very thick frosting on a very nicely baked cake,” Peterson says. Oil had been found in North Dakota before, but Dalrymple, Peterson, and Al Anderson, North Dakota state commerce commissioner, agree that the volume and velocity of the boom was unexpected. Dalrymple says there were 200,000 barrels a day in 2009, compared with 1 million barrels a day now.

“The rapid evolution of the oil industry was not foreseen,” says Anderson. “We had seen oil booms come and go but now the technology has changed,” Peterson says. “We didn’t realize how much oil was in the ground. We found ways to extract oil that we could never expect.”

In addition to oil, success in agriculture, manufacturing, and tourism are contributing factors to North Dakota’s having the lowest unemployment in the U.S. for the past four years. The state has added 116,000 jobs since 2000, a job-growth increase of 35.6%. Net migration in the state is up 12.7% since 2000. This onrush of new jobs and workers has strained the housing market. North Dakota residents are fully aware of this, as 61% say they are satisfied with the availability of affordable housing in their state, one of the lowest in the nation.

Gov. Dayton and the DFL insist that North Dakota’s economic boom is tied to the Bakken boom. There’s no denying that it’s a huge factor in North Dakota’s economic success. Still, there’s no denying the fact that manufacturing and agriculture play a big role in North Dakota’s economic boom time.

At a time when Gov. Dayton and the DFL are trying to make Minnesota’s economy more metrocentric, they should be looking at the success our neighbors to the west are experiencing.

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Charles Koch’s op-ed in Thursday’s WSJ is a fantastic fact-filled defense of himself and his corporation.

Koch companies employ 60,000 Americans, who make many thousands of products that Americans want and need. According to government figures, our employees and the 143,000 additional American jobs they support generate nearly $11.7 billion in compensation and benefits. About one-third of our U.S.-based employees are union members.

Koch employees have earned well over 700 awards for environmental, health and safety excellence since 2009, many of them from the Environmental Protection Agency and Occupational Safety and Health Administration. EPA officials have commended us for our “commitment to a cleaner environment” and called us “a model for other companies.”

Harry Reid said Charles Koch was “un-American.” If winning awards from the EPA for environmental excellence is un-American, then we need more of that type of un-Americanism. If winning awards for safety from OSHA is Sen. Reid’s definition of being un-American, then let’s have a new wave of that type of un-Americanism.

Let’s be blunt, though. This won’t stop Sen. Reid from criticizing the Koch Brothers. This op-ed won’t stop Al Franken from using the Koch Brothers as villains in his fundraising emails. That’s because they don’t care about facts. That’s because facts are irrelevant to dishonest people like Sen. Reid and Sen. Franken. This information isn’t relevant to Sen. Reid either:

Far from trying to rig the system, I have spent decades opposing cronyism and all political favors, including mandates, subsidies and protective tariffs—even when we benefit from them. I believe that cronyism is nothing more than welfare for the rich and powerful, and should be abolished.

It’s indisputable that Koch Industries are good corporate citizens. The top Obama fundraisers got guaranteed loans for green energy initiatives, then went bankrupt. Koch Industries asked for corporate welfare to stop. That comparison proves that Koch Industries’ priorities are the American people’s priorities.

It’s instructive that the Democrats villainize a corporation that’s a great corporate citizens. It’s instructive that Democrats sat silent when corporations that raised millions of dollars for Presiden Obama gets a guaranteed loan from the taxpayers, then files for bankruptcy.

It’s time for this nation to turn the page on this chapter in American history. It’s time to chart a new direction. It’s time to trust in the American people again. It’s time to stop listening to dishonest politicians like Sen. Reid and Sen. Franken. Finally, it’s time to start praising good corporate citizens like Koch Industries.

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Last week, the DFL Senate’s spin about passing ‘tax relief’ was that the DFL added money to Minnesota’s Rainy Day Fund while providing tax relief to the people:

Nearly every Republican joined most DFLers in backing it, but GOP members criticized the majority for a provision in the bill that adds $150 million to state budget reserves. That brings the state’s rainy-day fund to more than $800 million, but Republicans said that money should go back to taxpayers too.

This puts the DFL in a difficult position. When they talk about a bonding bill, their predictable mantra is that spending x amount of dollars in a bonding bill creates thousands of jobs. When they’re talking about tax relief, though, taking $800,000,000 out of the private sector’s hands, the DFL’s argument essentially is that this doesn’t hurt job creation.

Having some money in the Rainy Day Fund is appropriate but having almost $1,000,000,000 in the Rainy Day Fund is criminal because it’s taking money that should be used for creating jobs and putting it away to maintain government spending longer than government spending should be maintained.

The other thing that the DFL has to be exposed on is the myth that the surplus is proof that Minnesota’s economy is booming. That’s BS. The government is wealthier than it was with the GOP legislature but that’s it. The surplus is proof that the DFL’s tax increase is stealing too much money from families and small businesses.

The DFL is ok with that because the DFL has sworn its allegiance to growing government to the point that it’s intruding in people’s lives too much. The DFL objected to PolyMet until recently. They’re still objecting to the silica sand mining in southern Minnesota. They’re objecting while chanting ‘the environment’. Nowhere in their chanting points is there a mention about families needing the high-paying jobs that silica sand mining and PolyMet would provide.

The DFL’s Rainy Day rip-off is proof that the DFL’s highest priorities are feeding government while appeasing militant environmentalists. Those aren’t the average Minnesotan’s priorities. They want policies that create jobs that don’t require raising taxes to create. At this point, the DFL doesn’t champion policies like that.

The DFL’s policies promote intrusive, expensive and inefficient government. How many people know that taxpayers’ money is being used to lobby the legislature to spend more of the taxpayers’ money? The Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities spent $840,000 lobbying for the legislature to spend more of the taxpayers’ money. While they’re the biggest in that classification, they weren’t the only organization doing that. The League of Minnesota Cities spent $628,945 lobbying the legislature to spend more of the taxpayers’ money on cities.

The definition of corruption is using the taxpayers’ money to convince legislators that they aren’t spending enough of the taxpayers’ money. In that scenario, the taxpayers are getting shafted twice. How isn’t that corrupt?

That’s before talking about the millions of dollars being paid to legislative liaisons. Legislative liaisons is government-speak for taxpayer-funded lobbyists. State agencies are littered with legislative liaisons. If that position was eliminated from state government, government spending would drop dramatically.

It isn’t that legislative liaisons get expensive salaries. It’s that they convince DFL legislators to spend tons of money they don’t need to spend.

If Minnesotans want a real economy, the DFL is the worst option. If Minnesotans want money spent efficiently, the DFL is the worst option. If Minnesota families want government dictating to them what they can and can’t do, then the DFL is the right choice. If Minnesota families want government ripping them off and putting productive money into a dead fund, then the DFL is the only choice.

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According to this article, Rick Nolan understands that siding with the environmentalists is political poison for him:

“While the environmental review process for the project is still ongoing, I am convinced the plan put forward for the NorthMet Mining Project and Land Exchange will result in a productive mining operation that will produce minimal environmental impacts and will advance the technology of mining. It will set a high standard for additional mining proposals that may follow,” Nolan wrote.

The congressman went on to urge all agencies involved in the project to get it moving on permitting.

“I urge the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the United States Army Corps of Engineers, and the U.S. Forest Service as the primary lead co-agencies, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency as a prime contributing agency, together with the major cooperating agencies including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Tribal Cooperating Agencies at Bois Forte, Grand Portage and Fond du Lac, together with all other responsible agencies to move forward with final modifications and to adoption of the Final EIS in a timely manner.

“I also urge all responsible agencies to issue the Permit to Mine, complete the land transfers proposed, issue the necessary supplemental permits, and permit the NorthMet Project to proceed at the earliest possible,” Nolan wrote.

That’s quite the contrast with this edition of Rick Nolan:

Northern Minnesota is known for its great fishing, so perhaps it’s fitting that tracking 8th District Congressman Rick Nolan’s position on a bill that deregulates the mining industry and fast tracks the permitting process for PolyMet is a bit like watching a fish flopping around on a dock: first he’s against it, then he’s for it and now he once again opposes it, this time promising to vote against the legislation if it “comes anywhere near close to becoming law.”

Now that the DNR has announced that they’re holding things up while they supposedly study the impact sulfate has on wild rice, Nolan knows the permitting process won’t proceed. Isn’t it interesting that he wrote a strongly worded letter the day after the DNR’s announcement that they’re delaying the PolyMet permitting process?

Nolan’s support for PolyMet had always been conditional prior to this letter. Suddenly, he’s pedal-to-the-metal Nolan on mining? Here’s what Jesse Peterson thinks of Nolan’s flexibility:

The reaction of the those who gathered in Bohannon Hall on that Saturday afternoon is perhaps best summed up by 32-year-old Jesse Peterson, who characterized Nolan’s responses and actions with respect to HR 761 as “incredibly deceptive and reflecting a willingness to be phony.”

The truth is that Rick Nolan isn’t a friend of the miners. His allegiance is with the environmentalists. The environmentalists’ goal is to prevent sulfide mining:

  1. This kind of mining has never happened in Minnesota before, but in other states, it is associated with long-lasting water pollution.
  2. No sulfide mine has ever operated without polluting its nearby waters.
  3. The EPA identifies the hardrock mining industry (sulfide mining is a type of hardrock mining) as the largest toxic-waste producing industry in the U.S.

Admittedly, I don’t know Jesse Peterson. What’s apparent, though, is that he isn’t a fan of mining. It’ll be interesting to see whether the Arrowhead envirornmentalists turn out for Nolan now that he’s sabotaged their anti-mining efforts.

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Eric Foster is the chief pollster for Foster McCollum White & Baydoun. The first thing that caught my attention was that Mitt Romney leads President Obama by a thin margin of 47%-46%. As stunning as that was, this question got my undivided attention:

Question #9:
Ballot Proposal 12-2, the “Protect Our Jobs” proposed constitutional amendment would establish a new constitutional right for public and private sector employees to organize and bargain collectively with employers, Invalidate existing or future state or local laws that limit the ability to join unions and bargain collectively and override state laws that regulate hours and conditions of employment by adding section 28 to Article I and amending Article XI section 5 to the state Constitution. If the election was held today, how would you vote on Proposal 12-2, the “Protect Our Jobs” amendment?

Vote yes on the “Protect Our Jobs” Amendment: 41.2%
Vote no on the “Protect Our Jobs” Amendment: 51.3%

If Ballot Proposal 12-2 is defeated, that will be a stinging defeat for Big Labor. Coming right after Scott Walker defeated them in Wisconsin, they’ll be wounded for quite some time.

I thought this was interesting, too:

Question #10:
Ballot Proposal 12-3, the Michigan Energy, Michigan Jobs constitutional amendment that would require utilities to obtain at least 25 percent of electricity from clean renewable energy sources (wind, solar, biomass and hydropower) by 2025; limit how much utilities can charge consumers for the cost of complying with this requirement; and require the legislature to create laws to encourage the development of Michigan clean energy jobs. If the election was held today, how would you vote on Proposal 12-3 the “Clean Energy initiative” amendment?

Vote yes for the “Clean Energy initiative” amendment: 35.91%
Vote no for the “Clean Energy initiative” amendment: 57.49%
Vote yes for the “Clean Energy initiative” amendment: 6.6%

If Ballot Proposal 12-3 is defeated by this type of margin, it will be a harsh defeat for environmentalists. It would be a major victory for homeowners.

Finally, this ballot question is interesting, too:

Question #11:
Ballot Proposal 12-4 is a constitutional amendment Proposal to establish the Michigan Quality Home Care Council and provide collective bargaining for in-home care workers.
This proposal would allow in-home care workers to bargain collectively with the Michigan Quality Home Care Council (MQHCC) and require MQHCC to provide training for in-home care workers, create a registry of workers who pass background checks, and provide financial services to patients to manage the cost of in-home care and authorize the MQHCC to set minimum compensation standards and terms and conditions of employment. If the election was held today, how would you vote on Proposal 12-4 the “home care council & collective bargaining” amendment?

Vote yes for the proposal 12-4 amendment: 41.08%
Vote no for the proposal 12-4 amendment: 53.21%
Undecided for the proposal 12-4 amendment: 5.72%

Sorry for sounding like a broken record but rejecting this amendment would be a stinging defeat for the SEIU and AFSCME.

The fact that Michigan voters are poised to defeat 3 constitutional amendments that liberals really wanted explains, at least to me, why Mitt Romney is competitive in Michigan. If those amendments are defeated and Mitt Romney wins Michigan’s 16 electoral votes, conservatives will have plenty to squawk about Wednesday morning.

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