Johnson calls for changes in state agencies

Published 10:30 pm Thursday, August 2, 2018

The GOP-endorsed candidate for governor said the culture in state government needs to change.

Jeff Johnson

Jeff Johnson, 51, said state agencies such as the Department of Natural Resources, Minnesota Public Transit Authority, Department of Commerce and Department of Human Services have become too controlling.

He said the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency regulations — specifically buffer strips, considered Gov. Mark Dayton’s signature environmental achievement — were done with a lack of feedback from farmers.

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“Oftentimes these rules come from up high with no conversation with farmers,” Johnson said in a phone call with the Tribune. 

He said hunters, anglers and resort owners believe the DNR is making decisions without understanding how they affect outdoor enthusiasts.

Johnson, a Hennepin County commissioner, is running for the GOP nomination against Mathew Kruse and former Minnesota governor and presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty. DFL candidates for the position are Tim Holden, Erin Murphy, Ole Savior, Lori Swanson and Tim Walz.

Johnson said small business owners have felt “bullied” by the Department of Commerce for eight years, like they are waiting to take action whenever businesses make a mistake.

He said 25 percent of child care providers have left the profession in the last four years.

“DHS is literally regulating them out of business,” Johnson said.

To Johnson, the slow speed at which state government issues permits is making it easier for businesses to start in other states.

“We permit at the speed of government rather than the speed of business,” he said.

“That’s fixable, but we need a governor who demands it be fixed.”

He spoke against tax levels in the state, saying the lowest income tax bracket in Minnesota is higher than the highest bracket in 23 states.

Johnson said sanctuary cities — places where cities do not assist the federal government in enforcing immigration law — should be banned, and he called on the state to end its participation in the Refugee Resettlement Program until it knows the cost of the program, “because right now, we are not getting that information.”

Johnson, who also ran for governor in 2014, said he is “the strongest candidate to win.” He predicted he would be able to make the gubernatorial race about his vision for the future, contrasting that with Pawlenty, who he said would cause the election to be a referendum on the former governor’s past and lobbying work.

Johnson said he approves of President Donald Trump’s job performance.

“I support him, and I supported him before his election as well,” he said. “I think he is doing a good job.”

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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