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Tracking Minnesota’s political scene and keeping you up-to-date on those elected to serve you

Morning Hot Dish

Now accepting nominees for Minnesota's Al Haig

Good morning. Low 70s and sunny today.

Lt. Gov. Tina Smith on vacation visiting family out of state (they should stop reminding people of her out-of-state roots), which means both she and Gov. Mark Dayton are gone. As I asked on Twitter Monday, What happens if Wis. Gov. Scott Walker invades? And who is Minnesota’s Al Haig?

Dayton’s staff says he is in touch with staff and commissioners. What level of disaster/tragedy has to occur to race back to St. Paul and be gubernatorial?

This morning at 10 a.m. at the MPCA parking lot (scenic!), Rep. Frank Hornstein, Sen. Scott Dibble, other legislators, first responders, and members of CARS (Citizens Acting for Rail Safety), residents who live near oil train routes will hold a news conference demanding rail companies release emergency preparedness plans. 520 Lafayette Rd.

Sen. Branden Petersen says he will not run again, citing family and finances. He expressed frustration about the lack of independent thought on the hill and called for a raise for legislators.

Lots of people running for president, including five Minnesotans and perennial candidates like Ole Savior, Courtney Kueppers reports.

I ignored the story Monday thinking it was just more of his golf obsession, but on closer inspection, AP scribe Brian Bakst has dug up some great stuff on Hazeltine National Golf Club seeking some end-of-match birdies, if you will, for the 2016 Ryder Cup. The Dayton administration rejected the proposals out-of-hand. My message to state employees: Keep speaking your mind on email. Also, it’s shameful that the captain of an American team is called Davis Love III. Like some parody of a Waspy name the writers of “Caddyshack” wished they dreamt up.

Briana Bierschbach sits down with Ken Martin.

Peter Callaghan tries to puzzle out the MLS’s weird behavior. His conclusion? Cynically brilliant, or completely haphazard. Good piece.

“Drunk boaters” seems redundant.

Al Franken was at one of the final Dead shows? Funny what the local press gets told and not told.

Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson warns the GOP against what he calls “Rust Belt revivalism,” meaning the nativist rantings of The Donald and the right turn by Scott Walker on immigration.

Good piece in Haaretz about Encounter, a (until now) mostly under the radar group that brings North American Jews into contact with Palestinians, giving them a view of the conflict otherwise unseen.

Legislators, residents hold news conference on oil train safety

A group of DFL legislators, firefighters and other emergency officials and a citizen group used the second anniversary of the Lac-Megantic oil train disaster to hold a news conference demanding oil train safety. 

That disaster killed 47, and decontamination continues today. 

Members of Citizens Acting for Rail Safety held signs that said, "I live in the blast zone." About 326,000 Minnesotans live near train tracks carrying oil. The safety of oil trains has become a concern as the Bakken oil boom has rapidly increased the transport of fuel across states like Minnesota.  

Rep. Frank Hornstein, DFL-Minneapolis, said that in addition to improved rail safety, legislators and rail safety advocates want more transparency from industry about their plans to prevent an accident or deal with one should it occur. 

He pointed to a letter sent to BNSF Railway Co. in May that asked for that information after a company representative promised it at a January hearing. 

In a response, Brian Sweeney of BNSF said the company has filed relevant documents with the state pursuant to 2104 legislation on safety and preparedness. The company has shared plans and done practice exercises with some emergency responders in St. Paul, Minneapolis and Dilworth, Sweeney wrote. And, he said, the company has "invested substantially in emergency response capability." 

Gov. Mark Dayton's plan to improve grade crossings, estimated to cost $320 million, was rejected by the MInnesota Legislature before its adjournment last month. 

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