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What’s the Matter with Minnesota?

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Minnesota welcomes you sign at the state border

One of the most distressing things about modern politics is the Upper Midwest going hard right. The only states Clinton carried in the region were Minnesota and Illinois and she did poorly in the former, which was not too long ago one of the most liberal states in the U.S. But the home of Walter Mondale and Paul Wellstone is moving right very fast with a state legislature now controlled by Republicans in both houses. We are seeing the results in policy, such as the energy bill under consideration there.

Clean energy and environmental advocates are concerned that several provisions in a Minnesota Jobs and Energy Omnibus bill would remove regulatory oversight of programs, shift power from experts to legislators and potentially kills jobs in a growing sector.

The legislature is still debating the omnibus bill as the official adjournment of the session approaches on May 22. A floor vote is expected as early as today.

“It’s been an incredibly disappointing session, with anti-environment proposals and rollbacks and anti-clean energy efforts on all fronts,” said Margaret Levin, state director of the North Star chapter of the Sierra Club. “We’ve been certainly challenged to make sure citizen input is protected and basic standards for water, air and public health are left intact.”

Many provisions in the omnibus bill would “undermine strides in growing the clean economy and in combating climate change,” she added.

Attacks on science and the administrative policies that oversee air, water, health and climate — and taking decisions out of the hands of agency scientists and putting them into the “political arena” — “mirrors” what is happening at the federal level under the Trump Administration, Levin said.

In an email, Hamline University political science professor David Schultz says the legislature is attempting to “take away rule making authority” from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and making the process so cumbersome that “nothing can be done.”

The legislature’s “entire approach also runs against established judicial doctrine and opens the state up to significant litigation,” Schultz added.

The answers as to what’s wrong with Minnesota is the same as most places–resentment, racism, the decline of industrial work in some traditionally Democratic parts of the state such as the Iron Range. But if we have to fight for decency in Minnesota, not to mention fighting for the decent policies that state has long enacted, instead of fighting in other states that aren’t traditionally so friendly to liberals, we have an even longer fight than we think to get this nation back.

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