Greater Minnesota officials express frustration with Legislature

Another autopsy on the legislative session. This from Trey Mewes in the Albert Lea Tribune. “City officials and Greater Minnesota lobbyists are frustrated with what they say was a legislative session that didn’t live up to the hype. ‘This certainly wasn’t the session for Greater Minnesota,’ Austin City Administrator Craig Clark said. … Lawmakers allocated $10 million for broadband funding this year, short of Gov. Mark Dayton’s request for $30 million and much smaller than the $100 million Greater Minnesota officials requested. That funding doesn’t match the $20 million legislators gave to broadband funding last year, and Greater Minnesota lobbyists say the lack of broadband funding is hurting outstate communities with business opportunities from expanding. ‘Minnesota did not become a great state by nursing the status quo,’ Heidi Omerza, president of the Coalition for Greater Minnesota Cities, said. ‘We’re still patiently waiting for broadband to come to fruition.’”

Next on the chopping block: Employee compensation. In the Duluth News Tribune John Myers says, “With lower electric rates and a break on state mineral royalties already in hand, Minnesota’s taconite mining industry is expected to turn to another cost-cutting measure in coming weeks: union labor contracts. Five of Minnesota’ six large taconite iron ore operations are represented by the United Steelworkers of America, and the three largest companies that own those plants — Arcelor-Mittal, U.S. Steel and Cliffs Natural Resources — all are entering contract negotiations with the union.”

YOU try pushing him out. Following up on a story from last week by MinnPost’s Briana Bierschbach about divisions within the state Senate’s DFL caucus, Stribber Ricardo Lopez reports, “[Senate Majority Leader Tom] Bakk, in an interview on Friday, denied that he deliberately undermined Dayton during budget negotiations. He declined to address directly Dayton’s comments to the Senate DFL caucus, citing the confidentiality surrounding that meeting. ‘I won’t and can’t comment on things that happened in caucus,’ he said. He confirmed that he did intend to give his members a chance at new leadership. … several senators said, the group hoping for a leadership change started with about 16 in their ranks. But they sensed that key senators who were on the fence were slipping away. Near the end, Bakk appeared humbled, even remorseful at times, as he led the conversation.”

If you’re reading this before hitting the road, it might be a bit breezy out there. MPR’s Paul Huttner says, “The most likely window for storms in the metro appears to be between 4 and 9 am. Monday morning rush hour could be impacted by downpours, wind gusts at or above 70 mph, dangerous lightning and large hail. Significant tree damage is possible if winds reach 70 mph or higher. Hopefully we’re not looking at a ‘blowdown’ type event overnight into Monday morning, but the potential is there.”

Are you into safety? You’re in the right place, along with a few other blue states. Detroit Lakes (i.e. DL.com) picks up on one of those WalletHub surveys and says, “For those living in Minnesota, you can breathe better. And for those looking for a safe state to live, come to Minnesota. WalletHub recently conducted an in-depth analysis on the safest states to live. Overall, Minnesota took third place. Massachusetts came in first, followed by Vermont. To back these findings, WalletHub analyzed the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia across 20 key metrics. Among the metrics studied, the states were judged on ‘Financial Safety,’ ‘Road Safety,’ ‘Workplace Safety,’ ‘Natural Disasters’ and ‘Home & Community Safety.’” As ususal, the red state South was dead last.

Possibly related. KELO-TV in Sioux Falls (where so many of our millionaires fled to escape the general wretchedness here) has a story saying, “The Minnesota Interagency Council on Homelessness has announced that the state of Minnesota has seen a decrease in homelessness over the past year. 7,509 people in Minnesota were identified as homeless in January 2015. That’s a ten percent decrease since January 2014, and the first time the state has seen a decrease in the homeless population since 2011.”

Are you into getting a job? Head up to Duluth-Superior. Jenna Ross in the Strib says, “Minnesota’s unemployment rate inched up 0.1 percent in May to 3.8 percent, but the outstate continued to add jobs, according to the most recent employment figures from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. The Duluth-Superior metro area added 1,798 over the past year. Around the state, the Rochester region added 695 jobs, St. Cloud added 134 and the Mankato region added 187 compared to this time last year.”

Tough afternoon at WalMart. Kate Raddatz of WCCO-TV says, “Police say an off-duty officer fired his gun at an armed shoplifting suspect Sunday afternoon as the suspect attempted to flee from a St. Paul Walmart. The officer, who was working at the Walmart on University Avenue, approached the suspected shoplifter around 2:50 p.m. Police say the suspect, James Frei, 34, of Tomah, Wisconsin, pointed a weapon at the officer and then fled on foot into the parking lot. Frei then got into a pickup truck and police say he pointed the weapon at the officer again. The officer then shot at Frei, hitting the truck.”

It was pretty sunny all weekend. Another WCCO-TV story says, “Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman visited the ‘Tiny Diner’ in south Minneapolis Sunday afternoon. It uses 84 solar panels and reflectors to help generate power. The National Renewable Energy Lab says solar is the largest energy resource available in Minnesota. It says, on average, a typical single-family home in the state gets enough daily sunlight to power the whole house, year-round.”

Obviously, not good with numbers. Says Paul Walsh of the Strib, “A truck hauling a railroad crane strummed its way under three overpasses along Interstate 94 in Moorhead, Minn., late Sunday morning, clogging up summertime traffic below and slightly damaging the bridge decks above, authorities said. The mishap occurred about 11:45 a.m. on westbound I-94, first banging the overpass for 34th Street, then rolling along for more than a mile before hitting in rapid succession the railroad track bridge and a 20th Street overpass, according to the State Patrol. The crane, a piece of equipment made to glide along on railroad tracks, was dislodged from the truck and came to a mangled rest along the right shoulder of the interstate.”

If you haven’t read Doug Tice’s Strib commentary on the parallels between the archdiocese and the legislature, you really should. “Church and state in Minnesota have been united by recent events — united in disgrace, that is, as each finally has been called to account for long-standing and long-denied injustices. … There’s an odd, mirror-image quality about these injustices. The church did far too little to protect victims of sexual misdeeds and was far too sympathetic to abusers. The state became so fixated with preventing sex crime (or at least with putting on a show of preventing it) that it denied offenders’ most elemental rights. Together these transgressions are a reminder that injustice comes in more than one form, and that doing justice almost always means balancing critical values, not elevating any one concern above all others.” Excellent piece.

That guy on basic cable doesn’t have to go to the Congo for river monsters. For the Strib, Brian Klawitter says, “Saturday evening comes along and it’s a father/daughter team of Samantha and Mike Schmalz. Another great weather evening and and the darkness fell on the river changing the long shadows to a palette of different shades of blackness, ‘Sam’ has a chance at her first fish. It blew up the surface of the water back where it first felt the hook. With all the wood in the area under water that might have been the saving factor on this 47 pound fish. Had it stayed near the bottom the river monster might have ended up tangling in the wood and this fish would have become just another fish story.”

Comments (3)

  1. Submitted by Jackson Cage on 06/22/2015 - 09:22 am.

    Tice’s Commentary

    An “excellent piece”? Well, I guess that’s one opinion. I’d describe it quite differently.

  2. Submitted by Clayton Haapala on 06/22/2015 - 10:12 am.

    Without a Daudt

    It could have been a better session, but Greater MN got the outcome they deserved, given the representatives they sent to the Legislature.

  3. Submitted by Tom Christensen on 06/22/2015 - 01:14 pm.

    The greater Minnesota lesson

    Listen to what your Republican politicians say and assume the exact opposite. They thrive on false rhetoric, example Fox News, which is totally misnamed.. Now you have a prime example of what I mean because of who you chose. Next cycle make a massive change and you’ll be much better off.

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