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Sen. Ortman calls governor's comments a 'bizarre attack'
Jan 31, 2012 | 2374 views | 25 25 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
download KZK6_Apology_Letter_from_Gov_Dayton.pdf
Gov. Mark Dayton and Sen. Julianne Ortman
Gov. Mark Dayton and Sen. Julianne Ortman
slideshow
Deputy majority Leader Julianne Ortman (R-Chanhassen) offered the following statement in response to Gov. Mark Dayton’s comments during his Monday afternoon news conference:

Governor Dayton’s decision to nominate Senator Ellen Anderson as Chair of the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) was very controversial when he made it in March 2011. She did not fare well last spring when the Senate Energy Committee considered her confirmation. Chair Anderson and the Governor have known for more than a year that she was not likely to be confirmed. There were no surprises, and our public review of her record has been respectful at all times.

In the Senate we take very seriously our responsibility to carry out confirmations. It is a very important element of the separation of powers. We will consider 27 of the Governor’s nominees in a review of their capabilities and competence to perform. The Governor’s nomination of Senator Anderson ranks among the most controversial.



The chair of the Public Utilities Commission has an important mission: it is a quasi-judicial function intended to maintain cost-effective utility services in the state. Senator Anderson’s agenda to impose renewable energy standards and increasingly burdensome emissions standards and to oppose traditional energy sources translates into higher energy costs for Minnesotans.

Her political agenda regarding energy issues, in my view, disqualifies her from serving as Chair because the interests of the ratepayers in securing efficient and affordable energy resources must be a prime consideration of the Public Utilities Commission.

By declining her confirmation, the Senate did the right thing and for the right reasons. On the very same day, we did vote to confirm Governor Dayton’s nominations of Thomas Landwehr as Commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources, Ramona Dohman as Commissioner of Public Safety and Tom Sorel as Commissioner of Transportation.



Unfortunately, Governor Dayton used yesterday's news conference in response to the Senate's action to vent his frustration with the Senate Majority Caucus, and launched a gratuitous personal attack based on unrelated issues and inaccurate information. I can forgive him for his mistake, and his bizarre attack, but I do want to set the record straight.

The Governor was mistaken in stating that Xcel Energy’s property taxes went up $40 million statewide due to the changes in the Market Value Homestead Credit. To the contrary, Xcel Energy has stated that their “taxes are going up $40 million, due to a number of things such as our own investments, local tax rates, continued decline in the housing market, and the market Value Homestead Credit.”



I have been a member of the Minnesota Senate since 2003, and I know how important it is to build coalitions to advance legislation and to have initiatives signed into law. As far as I know, there is no lawmaker in St. Paul with the power to move bills through the committee process and change laws entirely on their own. Yet the Governor ascribed to me all of the power to eliminate the Market Value Homestead Credit and failed to mention the many stakeholder groups that supported the legislation (the Metro-Inter-County Association, the League of Minnesota Cities, the Association of Minnesota Counties and others), as well as the Chief Author in the House, the Chair of the House Tax Committee, the majority of the legislators that voted for it, his own Commissioner Frans who signed off on the bill, and completely ignored the fact that he himself signed the bill into law.

In fact, this year, property taxes went up an average of 2.4 percent for homeowners, as reported in December 2011. Overall, the total property tax increase this year has been smaller than the average over the last 10 years. Our local city and county partners also have exercised fiscal discipline out of concern for the tax burdens imposed on Minnesota families and businesses during these difficult economic times.



If I have all the power Governor Dayton believes I have, then I sure hope I can use it again to secure the phase-out and elimination of the statewide business property tax which would cut the tax burden for businesses of every size, in every community, and spur the economic growth we need in Minnesota and encourage businesses to expand, employ more folks, and invest in new capital or research and development. He vetoed that bill in 2011, but hopefully in 2012 he will do the right thing for the right reasons and sign this proposal into law.

Read Dayton's original statement here.

Read Ortman's response here.

Read Dayton's apology for incorrectly citing the St. Cloud Times here.

 
Comments
(25)
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Jim S
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February 06, 2012
"In my defense, I handwrote my notes while driving on one of Minnesota’s deteriorating highways."

I wonder why no one has asked the Governor why he was handwriting his notes WHILE DRIVING. This guy can't fix a gaffe without committing another gaffe.
Brian B
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February 04, 2012
Apparently State Senator Ortman forgot that she voted for the same "burdensome" targeted renewable energy and emissions standards that Commissioner Anderson was looking to impose. That is too funny. I can't blame Gov. Dayton for getting frustrated with her.
Mark_Olson
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February 01, 2012
Gov. Mark Dayton has apologized to St. Cloud Times editor Randy Krebs for incorrectly citing his newspaper regarding the elimination of the Homestead Tax Credit. (The letter is now attached to the above posting.)

Dear Mr. Krebs

Please accept my apology for incorrectly citing your newspaper in public remarks I made last Monday.

I mistakenly read my handwritten notes to say “St. Cloud Paper,” rather than “St. Cloud Chamber.”

In my defense, I handwrote my notes while driving on one of Minnesota’s deteriorating highways.

For the record, I note that while my citation was incorrect, I did correctly quote the St. Cloud Chamber President’s public statement. I am told that she has revised her statement; however, she did so after my reference to it was published.

Again, I apologize to you for my error.

Sincerely,

Mark Dayton

Governor
JohnBrunette
|
February 01, 2012
Now he just needs to apologize to the Senator.
JohnBrunette
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February 02, 2012
I have to thank you once again. There is nothing in the Strib and I've seen nothing on TV since the original Dayton tirade. No mnetion of Ortman's response. No mention of Dayton's retraction. No mention mention of his apology.

And some still think there is no media bias?

Thankfully, our local paper is on the case.
Mark Olson
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February 01, 2012
After communication between Ortman and Dayton's Office on Tuesday, the Gov.'s office has deleted a paragraph from his original statement:

Deleted paragraph: The St. Cloud Times recently reported that Senator Ortman’s elimination of the Homestead Tax Credit cost Xcel Energy more than $40 million in higher property taxes. Those higher operating costs will mean higher utility rates for all Xcel customers. Senator Ortman caused property taxes to soar higher for many thousands of other Minnesota businesses and homeowners, as well. That is extreme.
JohnBrunette
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February 01, 2012
Turns out he had bad information, which seems to be the greatest point in his statement. Nothing extreme occurred here. He should retract his "unfit" to lead rhetoric completely. One has to wonder, if he signed the legislation that he was so dead set against, why it isn't he who is unfit to lead.

If he wants an ounce of respect on this matter, he'd make a public apology about the whole statement. Throwing tantrums like this isn't leadership.
brickcity
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February 01, 2012
Of course, there is precisely nothing in Anderson's record at the PUC that shows she is opposed to "traditional energy sources". In 221 votes since Anderson has been on the PUC, 205 have been unanimous and she has voted in the majority 215 times.

Included in those votes: authorizing the retrofit of a coal-fired power plant and authorizing Otter Tail Power to build a power line across the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe reservation over the tribe's dissent.

And in the cases where Anderson was in the minority, she consistently came down in favor of ratepayers. In the two most prominent cases, she voted in favor of refunding $6.4 million in legal fees and overcharged fees to ratepayers while Republicans on the commission voted in favor of letting the utilities keep the money instead.

So, Anderson's record at the PUC should not be a source of concern.

Arguing a political appointment has a "political agenda" is well, obvious. Tim Pawlenty appointed a former Republican State Senator to the PUC in 2008. Certainly one could deduce a "political agenda" from her voting record, not to mention her experience on energy or legal issues was scant.

If Sen. Ortman were to be offered the position as a Commissioner in a Republican administration, would she want the Anderson standard applied to her? I think not.

This was political payback, pure and simple. Let's not pretend otherwise and move on towards actually getting something done.
JohnBrunette
|
February 01, 2012
Payback for what? 3 of the 4 Commissioners have been approved.

Mark Dayton's outrage is misplaced. He claims a 40 million dollar hike at Xcel lies on her shoulders, when he signed any bills that modified Xcel's tax burden. Like he's not responsible for bills he signed into law? And 40 million passed on to Xcel customer, if it's even correct, is nothing compared to what Anderson has proposed for legislation in the past. Senator Ortman is certainly correct in assuming that Anderson doesn't have the ratepayers backs. That's the job!

But this kind of match is common from Mark Dayton. He claims his bonding bill will create 21,000 jobs out of expenditures of 1.5 billion. that's just over 70K per job for construction projects, IF you determine there are no material costs. If even half of that is materials, you get around 35K per job.

If our Governor should be mad at anyone, it should be his staff for giving him faulty data to spew forth as facts. They are making him look like an idiot.
JohnBrunette
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February 01, 2012
I'm hearing the reason she was rejected was due to her resistance to clean coal, and new nuclear energy facilities. Her record demonstrates that she did vote against lifting the ban on any new nuclear sites.
brickcity
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February 01, 2012
If anything, Dayton's use of the original vote totals is kind to Republicans, because it hides how many of them voted for Anderson's bill.
JohnBrunette
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February 01, 2012
I don't get it bricky. Dayton is the one who brought up the bill. He brought up vote totals from the original writing of the bill co-authored by Anderson, and a rebuke against Senator Ortman, and the GOP. Rather than use accurate final vote totals HE chose to try to use the original votes to smear Republicans. Then HE also chose to use the data regarding 40 million in increased taxes for Xcel, which was also incorrect. HE tried to smear Senator Ortman using these two issues.

Both are incorrect,as we come to find out, and HE is the one claiming who is "unfit to lead". It's very clear that his character assasination attempt has failed, and failed miserably. He looks like nothing more than a petty jerk. He should retract the entire statement, and state the was upset and flew off the handle, and should apologize to Senator Ortman.
brickcity
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February 01, 2012
All versions of the bill had the same language regarding the emissions targets. Gov. Pawlenty signed the bill with that language. Ortman, Hoppe, and Kohls voted for the bill with that language.

If you expect to Dayton to own the MVHC, then Ortman has to own this bill.
JohnBrunette
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February 01, 2012
So what you're telling me rather than talk about the bill after the revisions were made, Governor Extreme chose to throw his tirade around the original language of the bill, in an effort paint the Republicans in a poor light, rather than admit that several compromises that were made.

He's really quite a piece of work. One has to wonder if there's anything at all that is accurate in his statement. He implies that's the GOP is somehow unfit to lead, while he throws a tantrum based upon incorrect information.

What it comes to, is that he has no idea why Anderson was not confirmed, simply because he refuses to accept the premise. In other words, if the shoe were on the other foot, he'd be playing partisan games with commission heads, so he just assumes the GOP is as well.

Yeah, that's leadership alright.
brickcity
|
February 01, 2012
Re: the vote totals. Governor Dayton is looking at the original passage of the bill in each chamber, which was somewhat more partisan. I cited the vote on the final conference committee version of the bill, which had broad bipartisan support.
JohnBrunette
|
February 01, 2012
So are you saying the following staement from Dayton was incorrect as well:

The other controversial bill carried by then-Senator Anderson required the State to develop a comprehensive plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent (from 2005 levels) by 2015, 30 percent by 2025, and 80 percent by 2050. 20 Republican Senators and 36 Republican Representatives voted against it. 8 Republican House Members voted for the bill.

Is anything in the governor's tantrum correct?
brickcity
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February 01, 2012
Why was Anderson singled out? Don't know.

For Yecke (intelligent design) and Molnau (35W bridge collapse) there were specific policy reasons, although let's not kid ourselves, there was also some partisan stuff going on, too.

Republicans haven't been very specific about the particular policies Anderson has advocated for that troubles them -- other than the one that their caucus voted for and their governor signed. They certainly haven't been able to point to anything she's done on the PUC the last year. If she were truly as radical as we're being led to believe, how is her non-radical voting record on the PUC explained?
brickcity
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February 01, 2012
John -- the chief author on that bill was now Lt. Gov Prettner Solon (Anderson was a co-author). And it was so controversial that Sen. Ortman, Rep. Kohls, and Rep. Hoppe all voted in favor of it. It passed the House 125-9 and the Senate 59-5, and Pawlenty signed it. If that's silly and extreme, then the entire Legislature is silly and extreme.
JohnBrunette
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February 01, 2012
You say this is payback for Molnau and Yecke, and if that is so, why was Anderson the one singled out for payback? Why were the other 3 commissioners confirmed? Wouldn't payback have two commissioners getting the hook?

Couldn't it be that Anderson failed confirmation due to her past proposals? I mean, isn't that what typically happens during confirmations? Don't the Senators look at the stance of the appointee and determine if they are a good fit for the position? Or were Molnau and Yecke denied confirmation for purely partisan reasons, and so naturally you assume the GOP is doing the same?
JohnBrunette
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February 01, 2012
Anderson submitted a proposla to reduce greenhouse gas by 80% by 2050. That's just silly, and frankly, extreme.
brickcity
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February 01, 2012
John -- it's payback for Molnau and Yecke.

What specific things has Anderson advocated for that would raise rates? Renewable energy standards? Those passed on a bipartisan basis and were signed by Gov. Pawlenty (who thought they were a great idea until he ran for President).
brickcity
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February 01, 2012
If she's against "clean coal", why did Anderson vote on the PUC in favor of a proposal to retrofit a coal power plant?

The nuclear facilities ban issue is sort of absurd. The only nuclear power plants under construction in this country are heavily subsidized by the federal government, because construction of a new reactor costs in excess of $10 billion. None of the local utilities have expressed any interest in new nuclear plants. To think if the ban were to be removed that we would have new nuclear plants popping up around the state is fantasy.
JohnBrunette
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February 01, 2012
Thank you Chaska Herald for printing her response. I've looked on just about every state news site, the Strib, the tv web sites, etc. They all had the Governor's misinformed statement, but none that I've found yet have this response. Perhaps because it makes the Governor look like it is he who is "unfit" to lead.

I wonder when his apology to Senator Ortman will be arriving. I sure hope she isn't holding her breath...
Dave Z
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February 01, 2012
I believe Sen. Ortman makes some assumptions regarding cost effectiveness which need to be seriously questioned. Maybe a radical such as Ellen Anderson would have helped change the game... the politics... and also foster market innovation. I much prefer the recent Chaska Herald article on the wind power developer in Jonathan. My vote continues to be for Gov. Dayton.
JohnBrunette
|
January 31, 2012
Way to go, Senator Ortman. I love the response!
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