In Wetland protections face renewed scrutiny, an article published Wednesday in Politics in Minnesota, Mike Mosedale reports that Representative Pat Garofalo (one of two Minnesota ALEC public sector co-chairs) is blushing with affection for the Democrats in the Range delegation:
For decades now, politicians and business leaders in northeastern Minnesota have complained loudly that overly complicated environmental regulations — especially those designed to protect wetlands — impede economic development in the jobs-hungry region.
For nearly as long, many of those same voices have fretted about the Iron Range’s allegedly waning influence at the Capitol, where, the argument holds, the DFL establishment is more attuned to the concerns of its base in the fast-growing Twin Cities than the labor-focused agenda of their party kin on the not-so-fast growing Range.
During the DFL’s two years of total control at the Capitol, some of its signature accomplishments — most notably, legalizing gay marriage — have helped bolster such views of an increasingly metro-centric DFL. During the campaign season, many outstate Republicans leveraged the theme with success.
But with the new GOP majority in the House pledging to focus on rural issues, the Range’s seven-member, all-DFL delegation appears positioned yet again to make an outsized impact at the Capitol.
At least that’s the view of insiders like Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington.
“The Rangers are in charge of this legislative session, make no mistake about it,” Garofalo ventured. “Of all the geographic areas and political groups, the Iron Range Democrats are going to have the most authority. Any deals are going to have to be approved by them.”
Ah, yes. By losing seats in the non-Range rural areas of Minnesota and becoming even more urban-based, the DFL has ceded all authority to its electeds on the Range, and by gaining seats in rural Minnesota, the Republicans too have handed power to the Rangers.
One has to hand it to Representative Garofalo: he knows how to flatter those power bottoms he's courting.
But an earlier article about the House Rangers suggests that the price of a successful political seduction will cause the Republicans to give up another dream for managing the household purse of the state. Bill Hanna reported in Range House lawmakers to be in minority:
Rep. David Dill, DFL-Crane Lake, prides himself on working well across the political aisle in St. Paul.
“We have gotten important things done in the past when in the minority, but it can be contentious. They should not tinker with formulas that affect funding for rural areas. And absolutely no DJJ funds should be touched,” he said.
. . .Melin said she anticipates no problem in forging a healthy relationship with the new House majority.
“It’s harder to get stuff done in the minority. But I’ve always been able to work well on both sides of the aisle and build relationships,” said Melin, who added she was able to get Republican support last session for her Women’s Security Act.
She believes state finances are “in a much better place,” so DJJ Fund dollars should not be coveted as they were a few years ago to help fill a major budget hole.
In 2011, when the Republicans held both chambers of the legislature, Melin served as a firebrand in opposition to a plan to pilfer the DJJ Fund, a money pot that Rangers believe to be no different than local property taxes, MinnPost's Doug Grow reported in Riled-up Iron Rangers rip GOP $60 million 'raid' on their development fund.
We suspect that energy and environmental policy will mostly define the boundaries of the relationship between the Rangers and the Republicans, with the unsafe words that will stop the action centering around such cherished ALEC policy goals as enacting right-to-work and blocking minimum wage increases.
In the meantime, we'll enjoy Representative Garofalo's tweets about cronyism:
Photo: One vision of cronyism, from the cover of the Economist. Or a furry convention. We're not sure.
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