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Gov. Dayton is proudly proclaiming that Minnesota is the best state to do business in. He’s basing that propaganda on CNBC’s latest ranking. After looking at how they arrived at the categories that they ranked states on, it’s easy to see how CNBC arrived at their ridiculous ratings. First, it’s important to know this about the rating system:

For example, if more states tout their low business costs, the “Cost of Doing Business” category carries greater weight. That way, our study ranks the states based on the criteria they use to sell themselves.

According to CNBC’s report, workforce is the most important category, followed by cost of doing business and infrastructure, economy, quality of life, technology & innovation, education, business friendliness, cost of living and, finally, access to capital.

Minnesota ranked 13th in workforce, 35th in cost of doing business, 9th in infrastructure, 5th in economy, 3rd in quality of life, 6th in technology and innovation, 2nd in education, 23rd in business friendliness, 32nd in cost of living and 23rd in access to capital.

CNBC’s ratings only tell us what the states think of themselves. They don’t tell us what businesses think of the state. The fact that more businesses are leaving Minnesota than are moving to Minnesota is the best indicator of what businesses think.

That isn’t to say that Minnesota is getting everything wrong. There are some things that we can build off of. It’s just that there’s a handful of important things that we’d better correct if we want to be the best. Lowering the cost of doing business is essential. That’s only possible by streamlining government, especially regulations. Cutting special deals with a couple companies to entice them here, then shafting businesses that are already here, which the Dayton administration has done, needs to change, too.

UPDATE: King Banaian’s article for the Center for the American Experiment highlights similar points. This point is especially noteworthy:

If you’re a state that isn’t particularly business friendly, you don’t talk about that in your marketing materials. You emphasize other things. You puff your materials with discussion of quality of life and how hardworking your workers are and ignore the areas where your policies might make business a little harder to conduct. And CNBC will go right along and take weight off those things, if the rest of the states are doing the same thing.

I can’t emphasize enough the fact that CNBC’s article isn’t a serious economic statement. It’s a statement based off of the states’ PR statements.

This morning, the St. Cloud Times’ Our View editorial couldn’t get it more wrong:

Seriously, short of breaking the two-party stranglehold on state government, this session stands as Minnesota’s poster child for reforming a budget-building process that’s come to rely on procrastination as a feeble excuse for letting a handful of 202 elected officials (201 legislators and one governor) make closed-door budget deals as time expires. Or, this year, afterward.

More transparency is the best solution.

This isn’t an argument against transparency. It’s an argument that ideology, not transparency, drove the special session. Time after time, Gov. Dayton pushed items from the DFL’s special interest wish list. While neither party is immune to pushing things too far, it’s indisputable that the DFL pushed it too hard this session. In fact, I’d argue that the DFL got used to pushing things too far in 2013-14, then didn’t adjust to divided government this year.

Gov. Dayton insisted on a trifecta of bad ideas. First, Gov. Dayton insisted on a major gas tax increase that Minnesotans vehemently opposed. Next, Gov. Dayton insisted on universal pre-k. Even after experts said that wasn’t sustainable, Gov. Dayton didn’t relent until a week later. Finally, Gov. Dayton insisted that the legislature repeal the partial privatization of the Auditor’s office a week after Gov. Dayton signed the bill.

The gas tax increase was a disaster waiting to happen. Three-fourths of Minnesotans opposed the tax increase. That didn’t stop Gov. Dayton from harshly criticizing people opposed to his gas tax increase. When he dug in his heels, Gov. Dayton poisoned the well.

Later, Gov. Dayton insisted on universal pre-K. Even after Art Rolnick showed how expensive it was and how many hidden property tax increases and unfunded mandates were hidden in the bill, Gov. Dayton still pushed the bill in his attempt to pay off his allies at Education Minnesota.

Third, Gov. Dayton pushed that the legislature repeal the statute that gave counties the option of hiring a private CPA to audit their county. That was an especially tricky position to defend since 28 counties already have that option.

Ideology, not a lack of transparency, pushed events in the Legislature.

It’s been years since the regular session of the Minnesota Legislature was this ‘colorful’. It didn’t take long for the fireworks to start, which leads into the regular session’s losers list:

  1. Mark Dayton — Dayton announced that he was unbound now that he’d run his last campaign. It didn’t take long before we learned that that meant he’d start lobbing grenades at whoever got him upset. Tom Bakk ambushed him on the commissioners pay raises. Sen. Bakk, here’s your grenade. Republicans proposed a new way to fund fixing Minnesota’s potholed roads. Here’s your grenade. Gov. Dayton also misread the Republicans and Kurt Daudt. He thought he could bully them into compliance. Though his bullying was ever-present, it didn’t move Republicans because their agenda was popular with Minnesotans. Gov. Dayton never figured that out. He’s still whining about it after the special session.
  2. Tom Bakk — Sen. Bakk ambushed Gov. Dayton on the commissioners pay raises but he didn’t do it until they became unpopular with Minnesotans. Sen. Bakk’s ambush smacked more of political opportunism than voicing displeasure with a bad policy. That was especially true when a reporter actually pointed out that Sen. Bakk voted for the pay raises. Sen. Bakk got stung hard when Gov. Dayton accused him of stabbing him in the back. Later, Gov. Dayton said that he trusted Speaker Daudt more than he trusted Sen. Bakk. FYI- That wound never healed. I don’t know that it ever will.
  3. Metrocrats — They came in with high expectations. Tina Flint-Smith was the new Lt. Governor. They had a bold progressive spending agenda. By the time the session was over, Rep. Thissen’s face was more likely to be seen on milk cartons than at negotiating sessions.
  4. Move MN — They fought for a gas tax increase. They lobbied both caucuses hard, sometimes sneakily. In the end, they got their lunch handed to them.
  5. Brian McDaniel — Brian McDaniel isn’t a household name to most Minnesotans but he’s known by political nerds like me. McDaniel is Republican lobbyist who lobbied for the aforementioned gas tax increase. What’s worst is that he didn’t disclose that he was lobbying for Move MN when he went on Almanac or At Issue. That’s definitely unethical.
  6. Keith Downey — His ‘Send it all back’ tax refund campaign was a disaster. He knew that a $2,000,000,000 tax cut didn’t have a chance of passing. Period. When he appeared in the ad himself, he made himself the face of opposition to the House Republicans’ agenda. The Twin Cities media had a field day playing up that dispute.

I’m sure there were other losers during the regular session but that’s my list. If you want to add to this list or if you want to disagree with me, knock yourself out.

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Dan Wolgamott visited with KNSI’s Dan Ochsner Wednesday afternoon. Wolgamott was the DFL-endorsed candidate against Rep. Tama Theis in 2014. Here’s a little historical information on that race. Rep. Theis won that election by 1,300 votes while garnering 55% of the vote.

One of the topics discussed during the interview was transportation. Wolgamott lamented the fact that a compromise wasn’t reached to fix Minnesota’s potholed roads. I wrote this post after the St. Cloud Times published Wolgamott’s op-ed. Here’s part of what Mr. Wolgamott said in that op-ed:

Our roads are aging, the congestion is getting worse and our state is falling behind on delivering the vibrant transportation options we need. We feel the bumps in our pothole-filled roads and the hit in our wallets with vehicle repairs.

It’s time for us to invest in our roads and bridges, which is why St. Cloud needs better leadership than State Sen. John Pederson. As made clear in two recent articles in the St. Cloud Times, Pederson has some thoughts on the state’s transportation network. As the Republican lead on the Senate Transportation and Public Safety Committee, he could play a vital role in providing St. Cloud the comprehensive transportation investment we need.

Instead, Sen. Pederson backs a plan that not only shifts money away from our schools and services for our most vulnerable residents, but relies heavily on borrowing for our roads and bridges, putting the costs on the state’s credit card. This plan depends on action to be taken by future legislatures. However, there is no guarantee future legislatures will make those decisions. Instead of stability, this is another example of politicians promising something in the future to justify ducking their responsibilities now.

TRANSLATION: Minnesota’s roads need fixing.

That’s long on complaining but short on solutions. That’s typical Wolgamott. This is, too:

We need an honest, comprehensive approach that creates a dedicated source of new funding for our roads and bridges, one that will meet the demands of our growing state.

TRANSLATION: I support the Dayton-Bakk-Move MN gas tax increase plan.

The tip-off is Mr. Wolgamott’s use of the phrase “comprehensive approach.” Whenever you hear that phrase, grab your wallets. It means that the DFL intends to raid your wallets again. As I’ve repeatedly said, the public supports the GOP plan because it a) doesn’t raise taxes and b) isn’t comprehensive. I’ve repeatedly said that 75% of Minnesotans support the GOP plan.

When 75% of Minnesotans support the GOP plan, why shouldn’t the GOP plan pass with overwhelming support? Further, I’d love hearing Mr. Wolgamott explain what a compromise looks like. Is a smaller but still unpopular gas tax increase the compromise Wolgamott would support? If yes, that means he still supports a failed policy. In 2008, the legislature raised the gas tax with the promise that that tax increase would provide the revenues needed to cut down on Minnesota’s backlog for a generation. It’s a short 7 years later and the DFL is back insisting that this gas tax increase will be the last gas tax increase…until the next gas tax increase.

Wolgamott is a polished speaker but he’s still an empty suit who will support the DFL’s agenda if elected.

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Zach Dorholt is back for another bite at the apple:

Former state Rep. Zachary Dorholt announced Monday he will run for the Minnesota House District 14B seat. Dorholt was elected to the House of Representatives in 2012, but was defeated by Rep. Jim Knoblach by a narrow margin in the 2014 election.

The news isn’t surprising. The next announcement I expect is that Dan Wolgamott will run for John Pederson’s SD-14 Senate seat.

It’s true that Jim Knoblach’s margin of victory was thin but that’s soon forgotten. Since getting elected, Rep. Knoblach has become the chair of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, which essentially is the nerve center in the House for the budget. That’s why he’s frequently been part of the budget negotiations, starting back in March.

When Dorholt represented HD-14B, he was vice-chair of the House Higher Education Committee. During his watch, St. Cloud State’s enrollment declined precipitously and SCSU’s financial troubles got worse. Then-Rep. Dorholt did nothing to push President Potter to get SCSU’s financial house in order. Thanks to Dorholt’s inaction, there’s a huge budget deficit and dozens of professors will get laid off.

I’ll be clear about this. President Potter’s decisions caused the problem. Dorholt’s inaction sent the message to President Potter that he could do whatever he wanted with impunity.

Dorholt, a mental health professional and small business owner, said he is running to put the priorities of St. Cloud-area families, students and businesses first, according to a news release.

That’s pure BS. During his term in office, Dorholt consistently voted with the special interest groups. Dorholt’s version of putting businesses first is raising their taxes by $2,000,000,000 dollars while temporarily creating new business sales taxes. After the business community expressed their outrage, Dorholt voted to repeal the sales taxes he’d just voted for.

The biggest difference between Chairman Knoblach and Mr. Dorholt is that Dorholt is Rep. Thissen’s puppet while Chairman Knoblach is an important leader in the House of Representatives. The question HD-14B voters have to ask is whether they’d rather vote for a puppet or for an influential leader.

I’ve made my decision. I’ll vote for Jim Knoblach because he’s a leader, a man of integrity and someone who gets important things done.

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Rep. Paul Thissen, one of the slipperiest DFL operators in the House of Representatives, is at it again. Thissen’s statement is typical DFL tax cuts for the rich boilerplate:

“Speaker Daudt said today that an additional $25 million for our kids was a “line in the sand” he would not cross. It is nearly beyond comprehension that Republicans would be willing to force a government shutdown over a refusal to invest an additional $25 million in Minnesota’s kids in order to save nearly $1 billion for their top priority: corporate tax giveaways.

Thank goodness Governor Dayton has been there to fight for Minnesota’s kids and their families all session long. He has dragged House Republicans kicking and screaming from their initial position of forcing teacher layoffs and larger class sizes in a time of surplus to a $525 million investment in our schools. Nonetheless, Republican intransigence means we are missing a historic opportunity to invest in our earliest learners and change the trajectory of the lives of so many Minnesotans.

We will await further details, but remain disappointed that Republicans have left so much work undone, and all to satisfy their desire for tax giveaways for corporate special interests and the wealthiest Minnesotans next year.”

President Reagan expressed my reaction to Rep. Thissen’s deceitful accusation that the Republicans’ top priority is “tax giveaways” to the wealthy:

It’s time that the DFL just stop dead in its tracks with this lie. Whether it’s said by Gov. Dayton, Rep. Thissen or a former nobody legislator, the accusation that Republicans’ highest priority is giving multinational corporations huge tax breaks is disgustingly deceitful.

Enough with that lie. Let’s talk about how it took Speaker Daudt and Art Rolnick and the Minnesota School Board Association and other education organizations to drag Gov. Dayton kicking and screaming away from Education Minnesota’s Gov. Dayton’s universal pre-K plan. In fact, the House DFL stood with Education Minnesota on that disastrous legislation. The next time you see a House DFL legislator, ask them why they’re supporting a massive property tax increase.

Rep. Thissen, why do you still support a major property tax increase to suburban voters? Is all your talk about helping the middle class all talk? What do you have against private early learning centers? Is it because you want Education Minnesota to grow so they pay more dues which, in turn, leads to more money for DFL campaigns?

Finally, are you so cold that you put your political needs ahead of the children’s and parents’ needs?

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The DFL has launched a PR (propaganda?) campaign that insists that Republicans hate children. I can’t quite call this LTE an outright lie but it isn’t difficult calling it utterly deceitful.

The Minnesota Legislature is headed toward a special session, and it’s all about education. Gov. Dayton has fought hard to improve Minnesota’s schools, and particularly to increase quality pre-kindergarten for every family in Minnesota, but Minnesota House Republicans refused to support those priorities.

First, Gov. Dayton isn’t fighting hard “to improve Minnesota’s schools.” He’s fighting hard to pay off Education Minnesota. There’s a gigantic difference between the 2 things. That’s the only explanation that makes sense. Last Sunday, Dr. Art Rolnick told Pi-Press columnist Ruben Rosario that Gov. Dayton’s plan didn’t include $2,200,000,000 in infrastructure funding, nor did Gov. Dayton’s plan include money for additional transportation and heating costs.

Those things would have to be paid for by local school districts, which would require huge property tax increases. The first property tax increase would have to go before the voters because it’s an increase for building new buildings. It’s far from a certainty that voters would ratify a massive property tax increase. The other massive property tax increase wouldn’t go before the voters because it’s for the operating levy.

Second, it’s true that Republicans didn’t support Gov. Dayton’s plan, meaning that the editorialist’s LTE isn’t a lie. It’s just deceitful. It’s deceitful because the editorialist didn’t mention that the DFL didn’t support Gov. Dayton’s plan, either. In fact, the DFL Senate rejected Gov. Dayton’s plan in committee, then approved the Daudt-Bakk plan by a 52-14 margin. For those that are interested, that’s 6 more votes than what are required to override Gov. Dayton’s veto.

IMPORTANT QUESTION: How can people say that Gov. Dayton is fighting hard to improve Minnesota’s schools when he’s dumping billions of dollars of property tax increases into people’s laps?

Because of this it is absolutely infuriating that House Republicans are dragging Minnesota into a special session because they don’t believe in providing quality pre-kindergarten and investing in K-12 schools.

This is a matter of opinion so it can’t be classified as an outright lie. Still, it’s exceptionally deceptive because Republicans support a different method for delivering quality pre-K. According to Dr. Rolnick, the Republicans’ plan would cost half what Gov. Dayton’s plan would cost. Further, it would cover 3- and 4-year-olds, not just 4-year-olds. That’s before factoring in the fact that the method that Republicans support is a proven program. That’s before factoring in the fact that Dr. Rolnick’s plan would targets at-risk children rather than spending finite resources on extending free pre-K to all kids, regardless of whether they’re at-risk or not.

Gov. Dayton’s plan would’ve dumped one of the biggest property tax increases on Minnesotans to pay for an unproven plan that’s expensive. The Republicans’ plan costs less, gives parents greater flexibility and builds on a plan that’s already working.

TEA Party Alliance president Jack Rogers is upset with House Republicans for not delivering on his demands for tax cuts:

“My heart is heavy with grief from the actions taken by the MN House Majority and some of the MN GOP Senators,” wrote Minnesota Tea Party Alliance president Jack Rogers on his Facebook page.

“Unfortunately, every house rep let us down in the final 48 hours,” commented Jake Duesenberg, the Tea Party’s executive director. “No tax cuts at all. Huge spending increases in public education and socialized health care.”

That’s disappointing coming from a group that’s supposed to know the Constitution. To expect tax cuts with a DFL majority in the Senate and a DFL governor is like expecting to buy winning lottery tickets each month. The odds are the same. Republicans passed tax cuts in the House. They were DOA when they arrived in the Senate. That’s political reality.

It’s also political reality that Republicans weren’t going to win many battles when controlling one half of one of the two political branches. If Rogers and Duesenberg want some of these accomplishments, then they should work tirelessly to elect more Republican legislators and a Republican governor. Without that, Republicans can’t enact their reform agenda.

While I’m disappointed with Mssrs. Rogers and Duesenberg, I’m not surprised that Paul Thissen and Ken Martin still won’t tell the truth. Check out Ken Martin’s whopper:

Said DFL Party Chair Ken Martin: “Republicans refused to compromise and are more interested in providing tax giveaways to corporations than investing in education.”

What is it that causes DFL politicians to reflexively lie? Does Alida Messenger implant a chip in these politicians’ brains that forces them to lie profusely? Martin saying that “Republicans refused to compromise” is disgusting dishonesty. It’s quickly disproven. Speaker Daudt and Sen. Bakk reached a budget agreement a week ago today. Of course, they kicked Gov. Dayton out of the room to finish the deal but they got it done.

Then there’s Paul Thissen. Here’s what Thissen said:

“House Republicans failed to finish the job,” DFL Minority Leader Paul Thissen said Wednesday. “They refused to compromise with Gov. Dayton. They wanted to keep this money so they can give corporate tax cuts.”

There’s those non-existent corporate tax cuts again. It’s stunning how frequently the DFL lies about this. Last weekend, I contacted Greg Davids, the chair of the House Taxes Committee, about the House Tax Bill. Here’s what he told me:

Eighty percent goes to individuals. Tax relief is for the middle class…. My tax bill is tax relief for the poor and middle class.”

It’s disappointing when people I agree with don’t acknowledge political reality.

What’s worse is when an entire political party proves itself incapable of telling the truth.

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ABM is launching another ad campaign, this time to push Gov. Dayton’s universal pre-K initiative across the finish line. Predictably, ABM’s latest campaign is filled with dishonesty:

“Minnesota Republicans — especially in the House — need to be held accountable for putting corporations ahead of working families’ priorities,” says Alliance for a Better Minnesota Executive Director Joe Davis. “The GOP repeatedly pushed for special treatment for big business, but shortchanged our schools.”

Here’s how Catharine Richert dropped the hammer on ABM’s BS:

Of course, this being politics, the story the Alliance for a Better Minnesota is trying to tell in its ads is more complicated than that. House Republicans and Senate Democrats agreed to put $400 million more into K-12 education. Dayton wants $150 million more than that to fund pre-kindergarten in public schools, and says he will veto the bill as a result.

TRANSLATION: ABM omitted the part about Republicans and Democrats, specifically, Kurt Daudt and Tom Bakk, agreed to this budget last Friday. ABM’s ad campaign doesn’t mention that the DFL Senate voted down Gov. Dayton’s proposal 2 weeks ago. I’ve written repeatedly about Dayton’s unwillingness to accept a bipartisan rejection.

Education experts like Art Rolnick, a former member of the Federal Reserve of Minneapolis, have criticized Gov. Dayton’s plan:

Rolnick, now a policy fellow at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, has made researching early childhood education a big part of his life’s work. He argues that the earlier kids start a good education, the better off they will be in life. But he doesn’t back the governor’s universal preschool plan for 4-year-olds.

“It’s not cost effective,” Rolnick said. “There’s a much better way of doing this.” Rolnick prefers an existing scholarship program that pays for needy children to attend Head Start, a child care facility or a public school program that meets quality standards. He said Dayton’s plan is misguided because it would subsidize early education for all kids rather than target low-income children who need early education the most and are the least likely to have access to it.

Gov. Dayton’s had the entire session to build support for his plan. That clearly hasn’t happened. This article highlights why Gov. Dayton’s proposal likely won’t pass:

Some school districts indicated to the House Education Finance Committee that they don’t have space to add “basically an entire new grade in our public school system,” its chair, Rep. Jenifer Loon, an Eden Prairie Republican, told us.

There’s concern about facilities, equipment and transportation, she said. “There may be money the governor is proposing per pupil, but there’s no money there to help districts if they have to build classrooms,” for example. “That’s a huge cost that would largely fall on local property taxpayers.”

That’s a gigantic property tax increase waiting to happen. Then there’s this:

“The high return to the public is in investing in our most at-risk children,” Rolnick said. In the study that made him a national leader in the fields of child development and social policy, “we got an 18 percent inflation-adjusted return when you invest in our most at-risk kids.”

Such findings, it’s been suggested, run counter to committing a broad stream of resources to serve all children.

Plus, says Rolnick, we now have evidence from St. Paul’s Promise Neighborhood that a key approach — an emphasis on preschool scholarships — is closing the achievement gap between white students and their peers of color.

This is documented, indisputable proof of what works. Dr. Rolnick wants to solve a problem. Gov. Dayton wants to pay off a political ally. I’ll pick solutions to difficult problems over paying off political allies with terrible policies every time.

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At the end of each legislative session, each chamber’s leaders issue statements on what did or didn’t get accomplished. Predictably, there’s quite a difference of opinion. Check Rep. Thissen’s statement out:

House DFL Leader Paul Thissen released the following statement:

“I would grade this session an ‘F.’ House Republicans failed to pass a transportation bill when this was supposed to be the transportation session. They failed to freeze tuition for Minnesota’s students despite our $2 billion budget surplus. They failed Greater Minnesota, ignoring broadband, oil train safety, and local property tax relief. They failed to get their job done on time, chaotically passing a jobs bill with no public input or debate. And they refused to negotiate with Governor Dayton, forcing a special session over their insistence on underfunding Minnesota’s earliest learners.

What makes this session’s failures so disappointing is the golden opportunity that Republicans have wasted- all to protect corporate special interests. With a growing economy and $2 billion surplus, we had the opportunity this session to provide greater economic security to hardworking families, fix our state’s roads and bridges, make college more affordable for students, and take needed strides to ensure all of Minnesota’s earliest learners have the chance to get ahead.

We should have done much better for hardworking Minnesotans, but Republican failed to deliver results.”

Compare that with Sen. Bakk’s statement:

Saint Paul, Minn.—Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk (DFL-Cook) released the following statement regarding the end of the 2015 legislative session.

“Tonight the legislature passed the final components of a two-year budget to keep Minnesota moving forward. Protecting MinnesotaCare from elimination, $138 million for nursing homes, and important new investments in education were significant accomplishments for the DFL Senate.

The last five months, we have seen what divided government looks like. Many bills this session passed the Senate with strong bipartisan support. However, the challenge presented by divided government immobilized many promising, critical initiatives.

I, and many Minnesotans, am particularly disappointed we were unable pass a comprehensive transportation bill this session. I will work tirelessly to pass a comprehensive transportation bill with stable funding during the 2016 legislative session. I will also work to dedicate portions of the projected budget surplus to investment in education and property tax relief for all Minnesotans,” Bakk said.

Last Friday night on Almanac, Sen. Bakk’s positive tone spoke volumes about how he felt about the budget he’d just negotiated with Speaker Daudt. He said “We didn’t get everything we wanted but we got everything we need to keep Minnesota moving forward.”

Thissen’s statement sounds like the type of political statement that an out-of-touch Twin Cities Metrocrat would write, which is what it is.

Expanded broadband isn’t a high priority for Greater Minnesota. Fixing Greater Minnesota’s pothole-filed roads are their highest priority, followed by building the Sandpiper Pipeline project to free up railcar space. Greater Minnesota understands that oil train safety, as defined by the DFL, isn’t the solution. Building pipelines is the solution, plus it kills 2 birds with one stone. First, pipelines are the safest way to get oil from Point A to Point B. Second, pipelines free up rail space for agricultural products.

Metrocrats like Thissen, though, don’t approve of that because the environmental activist wing of the DFL don’t approve of fossil fuels. The DFL’s record proves that they do exactly what their special interest masters tell them to do.

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