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Gopher Staters: Minnesota GOP Is Trying to Take Away Your Rights. Again.

The clowns haven’t even been sworn in yet and already they’re plotting once again, just as they tried back the last time they held the legislature, to trash our rights on behalf of their Big Business masters as they seek to take down both local control and state stewardship of our land, air, and water.

Bluestem Prairie’s Sally Jo Sorensen sounded the alarm against Jeff Backer, the lead public face of the rights-destruction movement, back in September:

In the September 24, 2014, “Meet The Candidates” debate for Minnesota House District 12A, Jeff Backer was lamenting regulations in the state of Minnesota when he said (21:39 stamp):

We have regulations that are very difficult. We have a farm in Stevens County who was turned down by the Minnesota Pollution Agency for a permit.

That’s not exactly what the Minnesota Pollution Control Agancy’s Citizen’s Board did at its August 26, 2014 meeting; rather, after hearing testimony from local residents and a townshop official, as well as receiving letters raising concerns about the project, the board voted 6-1 to require an in-depth Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Riverview LLP before it would grant a permit.

In other words, Jeff Backer objected to the empowering actions of his neighbors — and now, after his defeat of incumbent state representative Jay McNamar (who was endorsed by various local and state farming interests) in this month’s midterms, his constituents.

In response, blogger Sorensen asked this question:

Is Backer simply bloviating on Republican anti-government talking points? Or is he suggesting that he’ll strip the MPCA Citizens Board the ability to review permit applications–and the ability of local citizens to raise questions before the Board?

As we’ve just had confirmed, the answer is not just “yes”, but “hell yes”, as Backer’s kindred spirit Julie Rosen uses her position as a Republican state senator and her key role in a brand-new Senate group to advance Backer’s agenda::

With Backer’s win, part of the Republican wave that took back the Minnesota House of Representatives, Bluestem has been wondering whether Backer’s notion of curbing or eliminating the Citizen Board of the MPCA might gain steam.

Apparently, in Wednesday’s meeting of the Senate Rural Task Force, Senator Julie Rosen (R-Vernon Center) called the MPCA’s structure into question.

Changing the MPCA’s structure would be a significant change for the agency, established in 1967.

The only coverage of this meeting by the media is in Politics in Minnesota. Mike Mosedale reports in MPCA chief grilled over mega-dairy decision:

In August, after the Citizens Board of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency overruled a recommendation from agency staff and ordered a full-blown environmental impact statement for a proposed mega-dairy operation in Stevens County, environmentalists heralded the move as a historic and increasingly rare victory in their fight against the proliferation of so-called “factory farms.”

It was a much different story at the Capitol on Wednesday, where members of the Senate’s Rural Task Force grilled MPCA Commissioner John Linc Stine about the decision. . . .

Rosen also called into question the MPCA’s unusual governance structure, which grants major decision-making power to the board’s eight citizen members.

“We’ve given our Citizens Board a tremendous amount of power,” said Rosen. “I’m very concerned about what we’ve unleashed.” . .

Reading that, one might imagine that the Citizens Board was some new dirty hippie development, while the Senate Rural Task Force was carved in granite when the Glacial River Warren broke through the ice dam of Lake Agassiz.

But if the truth be told, the Senate Rural Task Force is a lot newer than the Citizens Board of the MPCA.

Although the archives of the meetings of the Citizens Board online only extend back to 2007, it appears that the citizens board has been part of the agency’s structure since its creation in 1967. We find mention of it in Nexis All-New dating back to 1982. That’s mostly because that’s the sunrise for the database itself.

The Senate Rural Task Force? Announced in August 2014.

If this all sounds familiar to you, it should. Many of the same parties were involved in a similar effort to gut local control — and when they failed to do that, game the local zoning laws to get what they wanted. (As the enclosed graphic shows, Strata — the out-of-state corporation that gamed the then-existing zoning laws, made a big last-minute donation to the GOP-aligned Minnesota Jobs Coalition, money that helped to defeat not just Jeff Backer foe Jay McNamar but also Andrew Falk, who had in the wake of the Strata stunt pushed through HF 1425, legislation that closed the loophole that Strata used.)

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