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Minnesota's rural interests look to build on recent gains at the Legislature

rural interests hope to keep the momentum on economic issues
MinnPost photo by Peter Callaghan
Besides the shortness of the session and the projected deficit, this fall is election season, with the governor’s office and all 134 seats in the House of Representatives up for grabs.

The 2018 legislative session that begins next month will be a so-called short session, but it promises to include another strong push by rural organizations hoping to build on gains made in 2017.

Last year, the Republican-led Legislature, buoyed by GOP gains in rural areas in the 2016 election, passed some favorable legislation for Greater Minnesota, such as a bonding bill that will pay for public works projects and an increase in funding for the Local Government Aid program. This year, lawmakers will meet for just three months – Feb. 20 to May 21 – with a projected $188 million deficit (based on a November economic forecast) serving as a backdrop.

That hasn’t dampened enthusiasm for legislation that could help the rural economy – at least for organizations that represent rural interests.

“There is a concern that when you look at everything the Legislature did in 2017 – the bonding and tax bills with LGA and transportation money – there could be the temptation to enter 2018 with very low expectations,” said Bradley Peterson, the executive director of the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities, which represents about 90 small- and medium-sized cities across the state. “The Legislature and the governor shouldn’t rest on those accomplishments.”

At its fall conference in Alexandria, the coalition advised its members to press legislators on four key issues: the passage of another bonding bill; another increase in LGA funding; money for street repairs in small towns; and proposals to bolster child care options.

Along the same lines, the Greater Minnesota Partnership, a business-oriented group made up of chambers of commerce, rural development authorities and other agencies, released its 10 policy positions for the session, which can be found here. Those positions mirror some of the CGMC’s priorities – namely a bonding package, more money for LGA and attention to the concern over child care needs.

The partnership’s top three priorities, however, are workforce housing, child care and the Business Development Public Infrastructure program that provides grants for businesses. “Obviously, those are all tied together,” said Dan Dorman, the GMNP’s executive director.

Meanwhile, a think tank that's been focused on issues related to the rural economy, Growth & Justice, hopes to build on a list of a dozen priorities it released during last year’s session. Besides a bonding package and child care needs, among other issues, the organization would like to see more broadband expansion and investment in a program that helps to equip workers with enhanced skills for technical jobs.

“We’ve got to be able to hold all of these issues up at the same time and understand how they all interrelate,” said Growth & Justice President Jane Leonard, who joined the organization in January.

Besides the shortness of the session and the projected deficit, this fall is election season, with the governor’s office and all 134 seats in the House of Representatives up for grabs. All of that could complicate movement on major bills. Nonetheless, rural organizations are keeping their fingers crossed.

Dane Smith, a senior fellow at Growth & Justice, put it this way: “I’m optimistic that we’ll get half a loaf.”

Here are a handful of issues related to the rural economy that will be worth watching as the session unfolds:

Another bonding bill:
The Legislature passed a bonding bill worth nearly $1 billion last year and will consider another major bill in 2018. Sometimes called capital investment or public works bills, bonding bills allow the state to borrow money to pay for buildings, infrastructure repairs and other projects. Last year’s $990 million bill included money for wastewater and drinking water systems, road and bridge improvements and repairs to college and university buildings. The Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities is hoping for a bill that would sanction as much as $1 billion in borrowing – an appeal that got a boost earlier this month when Gov. Mark Dayton proposed a $1.5 billion bonding package.  Besides paying for projects, cities can use bonding money for upgrades that deal with government regulations (to rid water supplies of mercury and phosphates, for instance). Bonding bills require a 3/5ths majority to pass in both chambers.

More LGA funding: Many small cities rely on funding from the Local Government Aid program, which helps them pay for basic services like police protection and park maintenance. The program routinely draws scrutiny, especially from wealthier cities that receive little, if any, LGA money. About 90 percent of Minnesota’s cities get some money from the program; for some smaller towns, that funding can account for half of the city budget. The current annual LGA appropriation is $534.4 million. Last year, in the tax bill that passed during a special session, the Legislature agreed to pump $15 million more into the program each year; this year, the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities is hoping for $30.5 million more in annual money, which would bring funding levels in line with those of 15 years ago. One growing concern for cities that rely on LGA: the bite that rising health care costs can take out of local budgets.

Money for transportation: In last year’s special session, lawmakers signed off on $300 million for road and bridge projects, but rural interests would like to see revenue dedicated specifically to transportation projects. One idea, a proposal to raise the gas tax to fund transportation needs – championed by Gov. Mark Dayton – fizzled in 2017 while Republicans, at the same time, scaled back plans to redirect funds used for other purposes toward roads and bridges. This year, the Greater Minnesota Partnership is calling for $600 million a year for 10 years for highway maintenance and expansion – including $200 million for Corridors of Commerce, a state Department of Transportation program that funds maintenance and repairs on “trunk highways” – major highways that are heavily trafficked with freight.

Courtesy of Freeborn County
This year, the Greater Minnesota Partnership is calling for $600 million a year for 10 years for highway maintenance and expansion.

Housing for workers: Many rural businesses that have job openings are also having trouble finding workers – in part because of a dearth of affordable housing. The Greater Minnesota Partnership is pushing for $20 million in housing grants for communities that are primed for growth. The organization wants the Legislature to “fund affordable or workforce housing programs at a level that accounts for the cost of prevailing wage regulations in housing construction” – or seek reforms to reduce those costs.

Reverse losses in child care: Increasingly, the lack of child care options in rural areas is being seen as a threat to economic growth. It was one of the most talked about issues at the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities annual meeting last fall, according to Peterson, the executive director. A national think tank recently found that one-fourth of Minnesotans live in so-called “child care deserts,” leaving some communities searching for ways to support more home or center-based child care options. One idea: provide funding to train potential child care operators, giving them insight into the costs and nuances of state and federal regulations. Short of specific legislation, rural interests simply hope to draw attention to the issue and perhaps generate funds to research potential remedies.

A national think tank recently found that one-fourth of Minnesotans live in so-called “child care deserts,” leaving some communities searching for ways to support more home or center-based child care options.

Money for city streets: While Minnesota cities with 5,000 residents or more get some money from the gas tax to fix roads, cities with fewer than 5,000 residents don’t get any of that money. To fill in the gap, lawmakers created the Small Cities Assistance Program in 2015 and set aside $12.5 million in initial funding. In last year’s transportation bill, they put another $8 million into the program for each of the next two years. Rural lawmakers are grateful for the investment but hope to make that funding permanent. The Greater Minnesota Partnership would like to see $50 million in transportation funding put into street repairs.

Broadband expansion: High-speed broadband has expanded into many remote regions, with 87 percent of Minnesotans now having access to high-speed internet, according to state estimates. But the work to connect everyone continues. Last year, the Legislature set aside $20 million for the Border to Border Broadband Development Grant Program, which provides grants to providers for the infrastructure they need to expand their reach. This year, the Greater Minnesota Partnership would like to see at least $50 million for the Border to Border program, with at least half of the money made available to areas that lack access to 2026 state speed goals — 100 megabits down, 20 megabits up.  The current federal standard is 25 megabits down, 3 megabits up.

REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
Last year, the Legislature set aside $20 million for the Border to Border Broadband Development Grant Program, which provides grants to providers for the infrastructure they need to expand their reach.

Career Pathways grants: Growth & Justice would like to see the Legislature invest in Career Pathways project grants that provide technical training for workers who need to upgrade their skills for the modern economy. In its legislative priority list, the organization says a “workforce mismatch,” especially in rural Minnesota, has led to unfilled jobs for businesses and underemployment for many workers. The agency also notes that the underemployed are “disproportionately low-income workers and people of color who lack post-secondary credentials.” Project partners include employers, social services agencies and colleges; grants for the program help with “fast-track” credentialing programs that train workers for jobs that are in demand.


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Comments (32)

Where to Begin?

So the citizens of Greater Minnesota want some state tax dollars, eh? I'm told they don't want to spend any money on a LRT system they won't ride. Yet they expect me to pay for a sewer system I'll never use? Roads I'll never drive on? You just can't make this stuff up.

They want tax dollars for day care? I thought those hardy rural folks took care of their own. You know, traditional values, opposite sex marriages where the wife minds the homestead. Now they want to rely on big gubmint to do it all? I just don't think we should be fostering dependency like that.

And when did it become government's problem that employers locate in rural areas in search of cheap labor, and then they want me to pay for "workforce housing"? What is this namby-pamby fell good psychobabble anyway? If you want more labor, and you want housing for that labor, pay better wages.

Stop expecting the evil government to do it all for you. Enough with this socialism! These rural GOP politicians should give their constitutes a dose of tough love instead of just telling them what they want to hear.

Much like blue states support red states

The Twin Cities generate the highest percent of tax revenue, but the rural GOPers are using the Twin Cities as their spigot and trying to leave the parts of the TC that need help behind.

Exacttly How I Feel

There have been many articles, in many different venues , about how/what rural Minnesota thinks about the metro area. Mr.Phelan's has satirically summarized these opinions very well.

I don't have the actual figures at hand, but I remember reading that the metro area is subsidizing rural Minnesota Rural Minnesota receives more in tax dollars then they contribute in tax dollars.

The majority of Minnesota's citizens live in metro areas (Twin Cities, Duluth, Rochester). Maybe the tax dollars should be budgeted in proportion to the percentage of citizens in a location. Rural Minnesota would not receive the amount they currently do.

Maybe rural Minnesota could try moving from 1950s thinking into at least this century. From what I read I do not want to go, or have any need to go, to rural Minnesota. 35 takes me to Duluth, 52 to Rochester and I don't need to go Atkin (to see the tank per David Gillette) for any reason.

Derisive Comments Contribute to Rural/Urban Divide

A single mom in poverty faces the same challenges in St. Paul or Avon, Minnesota. We should approach issues in terms of shared values.

Criticism of a single party is off-base because we consistently see rural democrats side with rural republicans while opposing factions in their own parties.

We can debate who pays for what, but it's not easily solved, nor is it an issue worth solving.

I've worked nights in a factory in greater MN- they're good people. We're all Minnesotan's, that's what matters.

A thoughtful article by Greg. Nicely done.

Hypocrisy

Calling out hypocrisy is "divisive"? Really? I never, and I mean never, hear metropolitan candidates campaigning by slamming the interests of out state MN.

Debating who pays for what is worthwhile, as long as rural GOP politicians continue to spin the yarn about "their" tax dollars paying for mass transit in the Metro.

Shared values? GOP legislators campaign against "Metro values' and "Saint Paul values". Some out state mayors have said that all the cities, including the Twin Cities, need more LGA. Maybe those mayors should run for legislature.

This is one state. We rise or fall together. We all do better when we all do better. Now just who said that?

Common ground with metro interests

The return on investment for rural broadband makes it worth the cost. Universal Pre-K would help with child care issues and those kids will most likely end up working in the metro area when they grow up. Water doesn't like to stay put so spending on cleaner water helps everyone.

That is why the IRRRB was formed.

We, up here on the Range, have 10’s of millions of dollars to use on improving lives in Northern Minnesota. Unfortunately, the DFL run IRRRB , has not done enough bringing manufacturing, worker training or viable businesses up here. They have spent the money on bike trails, boat landings and running Giants Ridge at the tune of millions lost per year.... If run properly the Range would be less dependent on Twin Cities, i don’t anticipate that happening. Why use the money set aside to help the Range when you can waste that money and beg bucks from Twin Cities? Sad,!!

The IRRRB

Why is the IRRRB supposed to bring manufacturing or other businesses to the Range? Isn't that supposed to be a function of the free market?

Government intervention to encourage or direct behavior that would not otherwise occur. That sounds an awful lot like social engineering to me.

Because the IRRRB is supposed to

grow and diversify the Range economy as one of its stated goals. Instead they put up a call center outside Eveleth to help DFLers get elected... that wasn’t one of its stated goals.

Stated Goals

A call center--which, I am guessing, pays wages to the people who work there--is not the same as iron mining. I would count that as "diversifying the economy."

Do you claim there is something nefarious in the way the call center is run, or do you just dislike the people who use its services?

Makes sense

Urban areas are where the wealth is, not just in minnesota, but nationally. Pretty hard to have big huge fortune 500 companies in rural areas. Happens but not often, a progressive tax system means metro pays more n shares, so what is the lib problem?, dem voters are increasingly concentrated in urban areas, check out Hillary's vote count analysis. Dems are always about taking from the wealthly and dividing equally. So why do they thumb their nose at rural voters who rejected them in 2016? Why not listen and attract them instead of mock, ridicule and belittle? Could change the misfortunes of the party. Stereotyping is so divisive

Check Your Bearings

Mr. Smith, it's the conservative side that makes hay with mock, ridicule and division. It's all they know. Disparaging "citidiodts" for their gay-loving & immigrant coddling elitist ways has been a proven vote getter out state. Then they perpetuate the myth that they subsidize said citidiots with their rural tax dollars.

Why the DFL can't campaign on what they actually want to do for rural MN is beyond me. The GOP legislature would only agree to a paltry $20M for rural broad band, far less that Dayton wanted. Better campaigning will change the fortunes of the party. No one is proposing a plastic bag ban for the entire state. But a lot of out state legislators are telling us citidiots what we can't do. So who is the elitist?

Frank, I said nothing about the divisive

issues the liberal folks like to throw around. I said the IRRRB, run by DFL, has no idea how to run a board that is in charge of growth for the Range. Not sure how you spun off to name calling? I was expressing my opinion about the wasteful use of taconite tax money by DFL run IRRRB.

Smith, Tim Smith

I was replying to Mr. Tim Smith.

Labels

It was a bit hard to read some of the comments about "rural Minnesotans", and I felt compelled to say that not all of us who live in greater MN oppose LRT or don't truly appreciate when state funds are available to provide critical services or infrastructure in our part of the state.

I understand being protective of our resources (aka money), and I have these same thoughts and discussions with different topics (like education, mental health, insurance, etc), but in the end I try to think that we have cities/counties/states/school districts and even families to pool part of our resources, monies, and talents to provide betterment for the group, no matter what the size...or location.

Your spot-on comment

Ms. Erickson: Thank you for your concise, wise and compassionate comment! I have given up posting or even reading online media comments for some time now -- so much of what I see these days is either vitriol, bathroom-stall scribbling, or both -- but your comment is the welcome exception! It was brought to my attention by a comment moderator; reading it was enough to make me abandon (for the moment) my no-comment pledge.

Jonathan Scoll

Thank You!

Your comment made my day...and I hope you find yourself wanting to comment more. I "lurk" for the most part, but I have to say Minnpost has some of the most thoughtful, courteous, and knowledgeable commenters around, even if we may have different points of view on some things.

I Sincerely Hope

That more folks like you turn out to vote this fall. The politics of division have not been paving our roads, replacing our infrastructure or bringing broad band to rural MN. I favor all of those and more, and doing it with state tax dollars, and I vote that way.

I'm not trying to gratuitously insult anyone

If this IS "rural" thinking, it's stupid and ignorant.

None of these items on the wishlist are Republican agenda items, but they're all Democrat agendas and have been for decades.... how do rural Minnesotans think they the got the 4th largest road system in the country to begin with? They forgot decades of Democratic control.

Republican legislators reduced the amount of spending Dayton wanted to invest in rural infrastructure and it was the Republicans who cut LGA in the first place. The Republican technology guy says we already HAVE statewide broadband access and Republicans want to pass laws preventing cities from creating their own municipal networks. Republicans not only cut LGA but they've been pushing for laws that prohibit cities raising their own taxes to pay for their own streets, schools, and infrastructure. It was Pawlenty et al that cut education spending and pulled two billion dollars out the education budget to pay for their budget deficit. Republicans created the teacher shortage... Whatever.

We can go down the whole list but really all we have to do is look at the Republican demand that all spending be revenue neutral. All the stuff on this wish list costs money and you're never going to get from Republicans because they've manufactured an economically incoherent "principle" of governance that actually prohibits the spending these "rural" folks want to see. Duh. The money required finance this wishlist just disappeared in a puff of Republican tax cuts. Duh again.

Voting to empower politicians that play divisive politics that pretend to pit rural interests against urban interests is... not smart. Such votes simply degrade the infrastructure required to provide rural services and create unnecessary and destructive animosities. Urban voters thus far have not complained about financing rural services, but divisive politics will provoke a response eventually, and that response won't bode well for rural Minnesotans. I actually support spending in rural areas because I understand they don't have the local tax base to support their own services. I want all Minnesotan's to have good schools, infrastructure, jobs, and health care, and I don't mind paying taxes to provide that. But if your gonna sit out there and throw handgranades into MY living room you can go get bent.

When you look at the reality of Republican politics you see that they only pretend to represent rural Minnesotan's, they don't actually deliver... they don't actually know how to deliver. Magical thinking doesn't produce revenue, and without revenue, you don't your wishlist. Republicans take the rural votes for jobs and streets and then sit around all session arguing about abortion, and choo-choo's and how to shut the government down again without getting blamed for it. Rural voters didn't actually "gain" anything with Republicans, so all they can actually extend... is nothing.

Minnpost Moderation

I love commenting at Minnpost, however I will never figure our their comment moderation policy.
https://www.minnpost.com/terms-of-use

Comments like this that say "If this IS "rural" thinking, it's stupid and ignorant." are fine however I have several comments lately that have disappeared into the cyber ether...

It is a mystery...

Am I imagining things?

Someone please let me know if I'm wrong, but it sounds like the organizations speaking on behalf of outstate voters are saying those voters want to see things done that Democrats are always pushing for and Republicans are always pushing against.

More LGA (to get back to the 2002, pre-Pawlenty/Republican LGA cutting machine, level)?

Funding (or solutions) for quality child care?

Affordable housing for working people?

Investment in "roads and bridges"?

More investment in high speed internet?

Training and retraining programs (aka "Career Pathways grants")?

A big bonding bill?

(And speaking of bonding bills, although it's easy to forget, it's worth remembering that there WAS no bonding bill passed in 2016 because House Republicans couldn't get it done during regular session . . . And even though there was SUPPOSED to be a special session, there WASN'T one that year because Speaker Daudt and his Republican colleagues couldn't be bothered . . . Or something . . . Whatever the case, there was supposed to be a bonding bill passed that year but it didn't happen. There wasn't a tax or transportation bill passed that year either because the House (allegedly) couldn't find a way to do any of those things because, everybody knows . . . Light rail.

Unless I'm reading this article wrong or missing something, the obvious question is, why are my usually smart, resourceful, decent as can be outstate neighbors voting for people who constantly oppose and vote against the things they say they want their representatives to work and vote FOR?

As usual, it's a mystery to me why anyone in Minnesota, outstate or in, votes for today's Republicans. Especially if they want to see the state do the kind of things this piece says they do.

Exaclty!

It looks Bill and I are (and many other commentors) are the same wavelength, but here's the question: "Why don't the Democrats actually run on the fact that they have been the true rural champions?"

In the last election cycle I waited in vain for Democrats to start swinging back in some coherent fashion against Republicans claims that Democrats had somehow failed rural Minnesota. I kept waiting to see the Democrat's ads pointing out the fact that Republicans had created the deficits and cut all the spending they were now promising to increase. I kept waiting for Democrats to point out that the "revenue neutral" budget principle the Republicans invented makes the spending they promise impossible. It never happened. Why?

So is the MNDFL getting it's act together now? I don't see it. Why?

Paul & Bill Need to be Careful

Did you see how I was admonished for being "divisive"? So here is how this works, pay attention:

Rural GOP legislators get to campaign by ripping big government & the Cities, filled with illegal immigrants that are all on welfare, native born welfare cheats, gays and other assorted evil folk. Then when those same rural folks look to big government to solve their ills, you better not be "divisive" by pointing out their are voting for people who will not give them what they want. No, better to unilaterally disarm than to be "divisive".

As for the MN DFL, I have no clue why they can't campaign in such a manner as to peel off even few rural seats. Fly around the state, and give specific examples of what could have been done with a better legislature. Photo ops at various locations, a failing sewer plant, a deteriorating road, a school that is falling apart. "Elect Karen Schlobotnik this fall, and see how fast this bridge gets replaced." Three guys sitting at a bar over a pitcher of Bud can figure this out, but high priced consultants can't?

To think that Paul Thissen couldn't manage an operation like that, and now he wants me to elect him governor? Paul, you can't do the job you have now.

I Do Not Use That

I often wonder who these folks are who stay in the Twin Cities?

Most Minnesotans I know spend a lot of time in Out State Minnesota at the Parks, Forests, Lakes, Hunting Ground, Visiting Relatives, etc. And as I often note, the large road projects in out state Minnesota are for metro residents as much or more than for rural residents.

I often think the rural urban divide is more because urbanites continually try to control their rural neighbors. Be it forcing LGBT laws on them, forcing increased buffer strips, blocking mines, blocking pipelines, re-introducing wolves, increasing water treatment system regulations, etc.

From my looking into where money is raised / spent... I think most of it is made in the Suburbs and spent in the rural and urban areas. Being a Surburbanite, I can understand this. Many poor folks live in the Urban areas and a large portion of older people live in rural areas.

You can look stuff up, the data exists.

If anyone wants to know where Minnesotans live and spend most of their time and money they can look it up. I don't think there's any reliable data supporting the notion that a majority those living in the metro area spend much or most of their time out in rural Minnesota. Local services are used by local residents... that's why we call them "local".

Sure, people do a lot of vacationing and lake homing etc.... even more reason to avoid attacks on those who are spending their disposable income out-state. Yeah, some of our infrastructure was built to accommodate tourism... those benefiting the most from that tourism industry didn't bear the brunt of the cost for the roads that deliver those tourist. Again, if you think you can take the tourism and throw hand grenades back at those who delivered those tourists... at some point urban dwellers are going to tell you to get bent. Thus far most of us have been of the opinion that whether or not you have decent schools, roads, health care, internet access, etc. shouldn't depend on what your zip code is, and we've been paying for it. You want blow that system up, send wrenches to St. Paul... OK then.

Being a citizen of the United States or Minnesota and subject to the laws of the United States and Minnesota doesn't make anyone a victim of oppression or "control". No one is forcing rural Minnesotan's to marry anyone they don't want to marry. And we all have to obey laws regardless of our zip code. I can't shoot a wolf, I can't use public land any way I want, I can't dump toxins into the water. Our air, water, public land, etc. are shared resources, and poison is poison whether it's in my water or yours. Natural resources are not anyone's personal money tree from which they can extract whatever they want, however they want, as much as the want, regardless of it's effects on their fellow citizens or the environment.

Who Benefits Most

I find this an interesting comment.

"those benefiting the most from that tourism industry didn't bear the brunt of the cost for the roads that deliver those tourists"

Now I understand that some people in rural communities do benefit financially from the tourist industry and huge roads through these communities, however I guess my belief is that those who take their vacations, buy lake real estate, spend time with family, take hunting weekends, etc are the real winners in the transaction.

My guess is that locals see tourists, traffic congestion, busy lakes, larger sewage treatment facilities, polluted lakes, etc as a mixed blessing. And by the way, even if we only use it once or twice a year... The roads and infrastructure need to exist. And most people do not like being stuck in traffic on the 4th of July week.

As for "control", if the urban centers use their majority to pass laws that are different from the will of the people in the rural communities. Yes it is a form of control from their perspective. And especially when those laws impact school policies, business practices, household finances, etc.

Finally please note that the metros may have less "pollution per person" but we do use the most salt, fertilizer, lawn clippings, road pollution, etc. Concrete, asphalt, cars, trucks, lawn maintenance, etc cause a lot of run off.

You're "guesses" aren't required

"My guess is that locals see tourists, traffic congestion, busy lakes, larger sewage treatment facilities, polluted lakes, etc as a mixed blessing."

We don't need to guess. Tourists still take vacations, even if they don't out into rural MN. Ask rural Minnesotan's who suffers when tourists don't show up to snowmobile, ski, or fish.

Yes, and when rural voters try to decide who gets to vote, and who gets to marry whom, who what women have to do with their own bodies and pregnancies, that's NOT controlling anyone? Whatever.

It's not about control, its about democracy. If you live in a community you're subject to community standards. Urban Minnesotan's don't just make-up laws to annoy rural Minnesotan's, or "control" them. The laws we're discussing are about responsible stewardship, resource management, civil rights, and public service and safety. Again, simply being a citizen in a democracy doesn't make one a victim of oppression.

Please note, I can swim and fish in Lake Harriet, or Minnehaha Creek... something I cannot do in any lake or stream in Southern Minnesota.

"Forcing LGBT Laws on Them"

Human rights should be a universal value statewide.

Pot, Meet Kettle

So if the residents of rural MN like local control, why do they elect politicians that favor ALEC written local interference laws? If they're just a bunch of live and let live folk, why do they care if MPLS & Saint Paul rise their minimum wages (and make rural labor rates more competitive)? Why do they care if I have to pay a nickle for a plastic bag?

No, I'm not buying that it's about leaving anyone alone.

I cannot shoot a gun on my property. The reason is that the bullet would fly far beyond my city lot and someone may get injured or killed. Why is it any different for water pollution? I guess if you can keep it all on your own land, go for it. But there's no way to do that, is there?

Forcing LGBT laws on them?

Uhhh, these "laws" didn't force them to alter their own sexuality. Civil rights laws didn't force them to change the pigmentation of their skin either.

Just a final observation...

You will note that while "rural interests" present us with a wish list of sorts, the "Republican" response even here on this comment is NOT:

"OK... we'll get right to work on that... push out more broadband, increase spending... got it, can't wait to get started!"

Republicans cut programs and all of that spending, and they didn't do just because they were flailing around trying to deal with the deficit they created- they did it because they don't believe in all of that spending to begin with. When Republicans cut LGA and education spending they were fiscally "disciplining" rural Minnesotan's and everyone else for living beyond their means with insufficiently tightened belts. So no, Republican are NOT going to be the ones clamoring to claw back that spending, and they're not. Republican silence on this point is deafening.

Rather it's the so-called urban enemies of rural Minnesota are the ones fighting to claw back that spending, restoring balanced budgets and surpluses, and stabilizing revenue. When rural Minnesota gives us this wish list WE are the ones who say: :OK, let's get to work on that". Republicans from whom "rural interests" are expecting great things are suddenly all about "values" but absolutely silent when it comes to pushing more spending and services... the things on the "wish list".

Let's just take a moment to recognize that fact, the fact that urban enemies are the ones trying to push out the items on the wish list while the self declared rural champions are the ones dodging the conversation.

Sorry

My individual comments went into the ether again, so I will summarize.

Many rural and urban voters have VERY different beliefs on a wide ranging number of topics. I am not sure why people commenting here like to believe that their beliefs are more valid or better. Maybe it is human nature.

I am just thankful that both groups live in a Country and State where they can disagree openly and vote their minds. Hopefully we can grow to understand that neither group is the enemy, they are just people rallying for what they think is right. :-)

Remember my first rule... "Always assume good intent" Most people are good.