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mn_capitolIt looks unlikely that there will be a special session, and therefore bonding, tax, or transportation bills. Corporate media is of course doing its “a pox on both their houses” thing, in fact trying to put the blame on the DFL as much as they dare. I’m confident that a majority of Minnesota voters see through that crap when they have the facts. For example:
 

(Minnesota House Speaker Kurt) Daudt introduced bills asking for private school voucher funding and local preemption during (June 21) negotiations. Local preemption would allow Minnesota to prohibit local governments from setting minimum wage or private benefit rules that exceed state and federal guidelines, effectively “preempting” those decisions.
(Mankato Free Press)

More on the latter:
 

Minnesota business groups and Republican legislative leaders are pressing for a new state law as they try to undercut a growing number of cities adopting paid-leave regulations.
 
The issue is a newly emerging wrinkle in negotiations for a special legislative session, as Republicans have added it as a condition for returning to St. Paul to approve unfinished funding for transportation and construction projects…
 
The proposed statewide law would undo Minneapolis’ new regulations requiring companies to provide paid leave and thwart St. Paul as its leaders work toward a similar measure.
 
The effort puts business leaders squarely at odds with community advocates and labor activists, who have focused on passing these changes at the city level, along with more favorable overtime guidelines for workers and a higher minimum wage.
(Star Tribune)

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Forget winning and go for a blue wave

by Eric Ferguson on June 28, 2016

Hillary Clinton brushing her sleeve at Benghazi hearingIn this article on how the presidential election looks state by state, they spent a lot of pixels on Pennsylvania and Florida. There’s good reason, since Pennsylvania might be drifting right and Florida left. This perennial swing state Pennsylvania becoming friendlier for Republicans, and polling Hillary and Trump evenly is a legitimate story, as is Florida giving Hillary maybe they first sizable lead any presidential candidate has had there since the days of the “solid South”, but it’s also story of just two states. They buried the lead a bit. Sort of … they did put Pennsylvania and Florida in the title, but it seems the movement of two states isn’t the big story. This seems like the big story: they project Hillary has 279 electoral votes after they moved Florida to lean D and Pennsylvania to toss up, which means,

A presidential candidate needs 270 Electoral Votes to become president. In other words, if Clinton wins just the states leaning in her direction, she would be president without needing any of the toss up states — Colorado, Iowa, North Carolina, Ohio or Pennsylvania.

 
That’s not just a win. That’s a wave. The predictable caveats apply, like it’s still June and the election is months away. Anything could happen and some things will. We don’t know the effect of the voter suppression laws a bunch of Republican state governments have put in place since 2012. Maybe Trump is as smart as he claims to be and loads of new voters will be coming out to for him. Maybe the polls are grossly wrong and he’s really way ahead. Maybe Mexicans and Muslims really do love him. Nah, I don’t buy those last three either.
 
Different analysts might come up with different results on a state or two, but essentially, they all come up with the same result: Hillary is winning without even winning the toss up states, let alone flipping any light red states. Not only that, but some red states are looking a light shade of red. No, I’m not buying the close vote in Utah, and even Arizona and Georgia are likely to revert to their mean and come around to Trump, but the fact we’re even this conversation means we could be looking at a wave.
 
Not that a blowout is a wave. A big win for Hillary doesn’t necessarily entail coattails for downballot candidates to hang on to — but it could. It will be no surprise I’m happy to hear, given my plea for Hillary to compete for winnable congressional seats in this non-competitve state of mine, that she’s pursuing a 50-state strategy. It’s the same thing Howard Dean was pursuing when he chaired the DNC, and he’s working with Hillary on this.
 
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scotusDon’t get me wrong, this is very much worth celebrating, and building off of.
 

Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt is a beat down of Texas’ anti-abortion law HB 2. Justice Stephen Breyer’s majority opinion piles facts upon evidence upon statistics to demolish Texas’ supposed justification for the law. At one point, Breyer even damns the law with words uttered by Texas’ own attorney. By the end of the opinion, it is surprising that Breyer did not finish with the two words “HULK SMASH!”
 
Even more significantly, Whole Woman’s Health leaves the right to an abortion on much stronger footing than it stood on before this decision was handed down. It’s difficult to exaggerate just how awesomely anti-abortion advocates erred in urging Texas to pass HB 2 in the first place. This law was supposed to provide those advocates with a vehicle to drain what life remains in Roe v. Wade. Instead, reproductive freedom is stronger today than it has been at any point in nearly a decade.
(Think Progress)

The decision, though, does nothing to rid the firmament of a plethora of other forced-birther crap like Minnesota’s mandatory misinformation and gratuitous waiting period laws. To fully protect women’s rights in this, and other, matters nationwide, we need definitive federal legislative action and therefore a progressive Congress.
 
What with Texas being governed largely by those of the sort with which one is almost ashamed to share the human form, the practical effects of the decision there may not be as hoped, either.
 
Update: Good news from this morning.
 

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court refused to review further restrictions on doctors who perform abortions in Mississippi and Wisconsin, marking the first ripple effect from Monday’s landmark ruling that overturned two abortion restrictions in Texas. In so doing, the Court ensured that Mississippi’s last remaining abortion clinic will be allowed to remain open.
 
At issue in both states were laws requiring abortion doctors to have “admitting privileges” at a nearby hospital, a formal affiliation that is difficult to obtain. The justices rejected the cases, letting the ruling of lower courts blocking the laws stand.
(Think Progress)

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MN Auditor lawsuit gets to court

by Dan Burns on June 27, 2016 · 0 comments

ottoAnd I for one wish the plaintiff very well.
 

Ramsey County Judge Lezlie Marek will decide in the coming weeks whether Minnesota lawmakers overstepped their authority by allowing counties to bypass the state auditor and hire private accounting firms to conduct financial audits.
 
State Auditor Rebecca Otto filed a lawsuit earlier this year challenging the 2015 law. Lawyers for Otto and the three counties she’s suing presented arguments during a court hearing Wednesday in St. Paul.
 
Otto contends the law is unconstitutional and will undermine the core function of her office. Her lawyer, Joe Dixon, described it as an “attack by the Legislature” and a “serious affront to the balance of power.”
(MPR)

If you don’t know the sordid background, here’s a primer. Judge Marek is a Pawlenty appointee, though I saw no indication during my admittedly brief and casual research that she’s notorious for partisanship from the bench. In his analysis, Prof. David Schultz seems to think it fairly likely that Ms. Otto will prevail.
 

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OK Now You Can Panic
Did Donald Trump even know what “Brexit” was when he was first asked about it? The answer seems obvious:

“And Brexit? Your position?” I ask.

“Huh?”

“Brexit.”

“Hmm.”

“The Brits leaving the EU,” I prompt, realizing that his lack of familiarity with one of the most pressing issues in Europe is for him no concern nor liability at all.

“Oh yeah, I think they should leave.”

Any bets on whether he was hoping the interviewer would clue him in on what the EU is? Probably lots of Americans had no idea what “Brexit” was, but they aren’t a major party’s nominee for president, and they probably didn’t form an instant opinion on something they knew nothing about. Trump, who knows nothing about what’s going on with arguably the most important nation in the world as far as America’s concerned, wants to be entrusted with American foreign policy.
 
So on the day after the vote, with Britons deeply split and financial markets in a panic, did he show he learned anything? Let’s put it this way: he tweeted “Just arrived in Scotland. Place is going wild over the vote. They took their country back, just like we will take America back. No games!”
 
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Minnesota water projects in limbo at best

by Dan Burns on June 24, 2016 · 0 comments

bwcaFMR is a cool and righteous organization. Click the link for specifics.
 

Our top special session priority is to secure full funding for clean water bonding projects. When Gov. Mark Dayton proposed a bonding package prior to the 2016 legislative session, it included robust funding for a variety of high-priority clean water programs and projects across the state.
 
Funding for many of these items was included in the final bonding bill, though not necessarily at the full amounts requested by the governor. We urge legislators to fund these priorities at the Governor’s original recommended levels in a special session bonding package.
(Friends of the Mississippi River)

Legislative leaders and Gov. Mark Dayton resumed their special session talks Tuesday after a week’s hiatus but somehow moved further from a deal to bring lawmakers back for a special session on transportation, taxes and construction borrowing.
 
But no one is ready to bail out of the negotiations or give in just yet, but at this point, it’s become a zombie session, neither dead nor alive.
 
“I don’t have a deadline. I’m not setting a deadline. But at some point we’ll have to see whether we’re making any progress or getting farther and farther apart, which is what the result is today,” Dayton said after about an hour of closed-door discussions. “We don’t need to get even still farther apart.”
(MPR)

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Big Polluters target state attorneys general

by Dan Burns on June 22, 2016 · 0 comments

desertAnd in some cases they’re using sorry red state AG’s to do it. Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson is part of a coalition looking to hold Big Filthy Fossil Fuels accountable on climate change. She is not among those being directly targeted in this petty, vindictive fashion, yet. But it’s presumably just a matter of time.
 

ExxonMobil has sued to derail a second attorney general’s investigation of the oil giant’s climate record.
 
The company filed a complaint in federal district court in Fort Worth on (June 15) against Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey. Her office subpoenaed Exxon records going back 40 years in an investigation of whether the company committed consumer or securities fraud by misrepresenting its knowledge of climate change.
 
In the same court, Exxon has a similar suit pending against Claude Walker, the attorney general of the U.S. Virgin Islands, who has launched a similar probe. Healey and Walker are part of a coalition of Democratic attorneys general trying to hold fossil fuel companies legally accountable for their conduct on climate change. The group was organized by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, whose office initiated an Exxon inquiry last year.
(Inside Climate News)

You could call it the battle of the attorneys general: one side representing the public interest, exactly what attorneys general are supposed to do; the other side representing the special interests, exactly what they are not supposed to do.
 
In late March, 17 attorneys general held a press conference to announce they will defend the new federal rule curbing power plant carbon emissions and investigate energy companies that may have misled investors and the public about climate risks. They call themselves AGs United for Clean Power, and so far attorneys general from California, Massachusetts, New York and the Virgin Islands have launched investigations of ExxonMobil, the world’s largest publicly traded oil company, for fraud.
 
In response, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange decided to push back. On May 16, they intervened on behalf of ExxonMobil to quash one of the investigations of the Irving, Texas-based company, accusing AGs United for Clean Power of trying to stifle the “debate” over climate science.
(Huffington Post)

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Hillary’s vice-president

by Eric Ferguson on June 22, 2016 · 3 comments

warrenI’m just going to start with the conclusion and say I think Hillary is going to pick Elizabeth Warren for vice-president, and the related point, that seems like a good choice. That’s admittedly doing some reading of the proverbial tea leaves, and tea leaf reading has such a poor record with predicting vice-presidential picks, that I make that prediction with low confidence. I can’t think of a strong counter-argument, so file that lack of confidence under “predictions are hard, especially about the future.”
 
And certainly, I’m not in Hillary’s confidence, at least not since trying to fool her with that Bill costume. You make just one bad decision, as I tried to explain to the Secret Service guy…
 
Warren is one of a number of people mentioned in reports based on leaks, or maybe claims of leaks, and reports based on anonymous whoever. For example, “Clinton has also begun to winnow a list of more than a dozen potential choices, another senior Democrat said.” Well, if “another senior Democrat” said it, who can argue? Hillary has met with Warren more than once. Warren endorsed Hillary in an interview with Rachel Maddow, and when asked if she would be ready to be president if she was vice-president and the worst happened to Hillary, she just out and out said yes. Maybe she’s just that self-confident, but that sounded like someone who had been seriously thinking about it.
 
Then there are the reports Senate minority leader Harry Reid is looking into Massachusetts’ unusual procedure for replacing a senator. Maybe he’s just idly curious. What a coincidence.
 
Vox looked at strength and weaknesses of list of candidates supposedly leaked. It seems a plausible list, and most names are popping up elsewhere. All the candidates have strengths and weaknesses, but what sticks out is that Warren has the strongest strengths, and the most addressable weaknesses. Others have weaknesses like lack of campaign experience, lack of governing experience, low name recognition, and to connect to my point about Reid, a bunch are incumbent senators whose replacements would be chosen by Republican governors. So if Hillary wins, a senate seat flips to the Republicans. I actually thought AL Franken and Amy Klobuchar would be considered, not just for what they might bring to the ticket, but because their replacement would be chosen by a Democratic governor. Warren’s replacement, though picked by a Republican, would be temporary since Massachusetts requires a special election 160 days after the vacancy occurs, not coincidental with the next even numbered general election like most states. In other words, picking Warren entails less risk of ceding a Senate seat than if several other rumored candidates were chosen.
 
And here’s an oddball reason for thinking Warren will get picked: Wall Street is convinced she won’t be.
 
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paulsen2(You can help out the Democratic candidate, Terri Bonoff, here.)

 

Now Paulsen, the recipient of more than $500,000 in donations from the (medical device) industry, has thrown his wealthy handlers another bone. He cast a vote for a bill that would allow tax-exempt groups from ever having to reveal its donors — even to the federal government.
 
In other words, shill organizations masquerading as nonprofits like the Medical Device Innovation Consortium could spend gobs of money on mailers and TV commercials come election time, and nobody would be wiser as to who’s behind the cause or why.
(City Pages)

Paulsen’s A grade has been dutifully earned as well. Over an 18-month period, Paulsen voted 13 times to block efforts to bring a gun safety measure to the House floor.
 
Nicknamed “No Fly, No Buy,” the proposal would ban suspected terrorists on the FBI’s terror watch list from being able to buy guns. It seeks to close the loophole for people who the FBI has determined should not be on a plane, but can still legally purchase firearms.
(City Pages)

Too many people in Paulsen’s “moderate” district just sort of reflexively vote for him, unaware of what a farce his contrived “moderate” image is. It’s time to send this right-winger packing.
 
Comment below fold.
 
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sulfideThis is not the PolyMet project. It is the one proposed for right next to the BWCA. Governor Dayton, among many others, already publicly opposes it. Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) has proposed federal legislation to block it.
 

U.S. Forest Service officials on Monday said they are “deeply concerned” about potential impacts of the proposed Twin Metals copper mine on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and announced a public comment period before the agency’s decision on extending mining leases for the project.
(Duluth News Tribune)

More:
 

Antofagasta PLC holds two federal mineral leases that were issued in 1966 as part of their Twin Metals Minnesota proposal. One of these mineral leases includes land within a quarter mile of the wilderness boundary. The Forest Service has been asked by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management whether it “consents” to the extension of these leases for ten more years. If the Forest Service does not give consent to extend these leases, Twin Metals’ sulfide mine proposal on the edge of the Boundary Waters would be prevented from polluting the wilderness…
 
The Forest Service will start a thirty day public input period beginning on June 20th, one week from (Monday). They will also hold a public hearing on whether to deny the Twin Metals leases in Duluth on July 13th. The Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness will be there in force, and intends to gather tens of thousands of public comments supporting a decision that protects the BWCA from sulfide mining.
(Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness)

As for PolyMet, it’s still in the process of getting more permits. The world markets for copper and nickel remain ugly. (Click on the link and look at, for example, the five-year copper chart.)
 

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