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St. Paul Residents Trash New Recycling Program Problems

It hasn't been a Eureka moment for St. Paul residents dealing with the city's newly implemented recycling program. Word on the curbside is that the project that's designed for residents to increase their participation in recycling remains a work in progress. Mounting frustration among homeowners has led to thousands of complaints over pickup delays and logistics pouring into the city and hauler, Eureka Recycling. At least Eureka appears to be relying on a fleet of trucks, instead of the bicycle recycling carts the company tested out a few years back.  And city officials now emphasize the positive by pointing out in...

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St. Louis County Turns to Trump to Overturn Obama Mining Ban

A month before leaving office, President Obama basically banned copper mining in the Superior National Forest in northern Minnesota with a stroke of his pen. The post-election executive order went over big with environmentalists, but not so much with union members and businesses. They warned the ban would not only kill the Twin Metals copper mine, but also thousands of hard-to-come-by jobs and billions in related investment on the Iron Range. Like much of the previous president's agenda, however, what lives by the pen may be destined to die by the pen. Local media accounts indicate the St. Louis County Board,...

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Don’t Fear Real ID

I must admit I took pride in the fact that Minnesota was among the last holdouts in passing a seat belt requirement when the federal government demanded states pass such a law or risk losing federal transportation dollars. Likewise, I must admit to taking some pride in Minnesota being among the last holdouts for passing Real ID. State sovereignty is regularly undermined by federal laws that legislate on matters traditionally within the sphere of state power. Indeed, federal officials too often forget that the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reserves the powers to the states that are not specifically delegated to the...

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A Conservative Infrastructure Agenda

Donald Trump says he wants more infrastructure spending and he wants if fast.  Yuval Levin has outlined a conservative plan in the Weekly Standard to prioritize economic growth while making enduring structural changes in infrastructure policy. 1. Reform Permitting Rules: But beyond finding ways to accelerate all the permitting that's now required, Congress should also cut down on the requirements—for instance, reducing the range of environmental concerns that require review under the National Environmental Policy Act and allowing such reviews to build on those conducted for similar projects in the past, rather than beginning from scratch with every application. Aggressively reducing federal...

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Cigarette Smuggling Soars in Minnesota After Big Tax Hike

Cigarette smuggling has soared since Minnesota imposed a $1.60 per pack excise tax increase in 2013, propelling the state to fifth highest for the crime in a new Tax Foundation and Mackinac Center for Public Policy report. The study shows smuggled smokes accounted for more than a third of cigarettes--36 percent--consumed in Minnesota in 2014, leading to an estimated $313 million loss in revenue due to tax evasion and avoidance by so-called border shopping. “Minnesota’s big leap in the ranks of smuggling states is no surprise,” said Michael LaFaive, Mackinac Center Fiscal Policy Director and co-author of the report. “As tax differentials...

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Twin Cities Couple Fights Mandatory City Property Inspections

Police can't search your property without a warrant, so why should housing inspectors be any different? That's the crux of a case going before the Minnesota Supreme Court on Wednesday, pitting the owner and tenants of a duplex in Golden Valley against city housing inspectors. American Experiment has joined the Cato Institute and other groups in supporting the Institute for Justice in challenging the Twin Cities suburb's ordinance requiring the inspection of every rental property. Several other Minnesota cities have similar policies requiring rental property inspections without cause or signs of housing code violations. Golden Valley's rental ordinance gives housing inspectors access...

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Sagging Liquor Profits Force Edina Munis to Compete

Edina's municipal liquor stores used to rake in millions in profits from the city's monopoly on the booze business for years, $1.5 million as recently as 2012. But profits have plummeted ever since competition came to town in the form of a Total Wine mega store that opened in the next door suburb of Bloomington, declining to $650,000 last year. Instead of privatizing the city's liquor stores or cutting city services, Edina city councilors penalized residents by increasing property taxes 7 percent in 2016 to offset the continuing loss of sales. After another  year of stagnant profits, however, City Hall may be...

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Contractors Pressed to Shop Subcontractor Bids as MnDOT Misses Minority Goal Again

A new MnDOT report shows the agency has again failed to reach its goal for minority and women-owned business participation on transportation projects for at least the tenth year in a row. This despite spending an estimated $10 million of taxpayer funds on training and recruitment to pave the way for the federally mandated Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program since 2007. The DBE program requires states to set goals for companies “owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals” for federally-funded MnDOT projects. But the latest numbers indicate DBE-qualified firms landed 8.5 percent of federally funded road construction contracts statewide in fiscal year...

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Why Can’t Young People Afford Houses?

Today's Minneapolis Star Tribune bemoans the lack of affordable housing for young people in the Twin Cities: "Twin Cities real estate pinchpoint: Few low-priced homes are being built." Builders are putting up more houses than they have in a decade, but not the kind in most demand. About 16 percent of the new houses in the Twin Cities metro this fall were priced less than $250,000, says a new report by Metrostudy, a national housing research firm. The rest were out of reach for the first-time buyers who are expected to drive the housing market in the coming year. A decade ago,...

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