If the Southwest Light Rail plan doesn't go through, it will set transit in the region back for a decade or more, Gov. Mark Dayton said in an interview on MPR News' Daily Circuit Thursday.
Reiterating what he told reporters Wednesday, he said the project will collapse without Minneapolis' consent and that there's not another realistic option for the Southwest Light Rail plan than the one the Metropolitan Council advisory board approved this week, which involves running it through Minneapolis' Kenilworth Corridor in shallow tunnels alongside freight trains and a bike trail.
"There isn't an option that's going to satisfy everybody," he told the Daily Circuit's Tom Weber in an interview Thursday morning.
Dayton said after he put the project on pause and had meetings with the region's mayors and legislators, there was greater acceptance that the Metropolitan Council's process was as fair as it could be. The current proposal is the best and most realistic option, he said.
Dayton addressed a few other topics on the Daily Circuit:
Medical Marijuana: Dayton doesn't support the current bill in the legislature, and said it should not move forward based on anecdotal evidence about people who benefit from the drug. He reiterated his proposal for a clinical trial that would provide the drug in a capsule form to evaluate a patient's medical improvement. Gov. Dayton also said that there is a drug testing protocol and that medical marijuana should not be exempt from going through that. "We wouldn't do this with any other chemical substance," Dayton said. He said the proposal would make medical marijuana "different than how any other medicine is handled."
Allowing immigrants who are not legally in the country to obtain driver's licenses: Dayton said people who are not in the country legally should not have the same privileges as citizens, so he does not believe they should be able to get driver's licenses. He said it may be a good idea to allow them identification cards that are "limited purpose IDs," that would help law enforcement identify them. He added that although he doesn't support the driver's license bill, he wouldn't veto it. "My view is we need a federal law that provides a path to citizenship for people who are not going to be deported and not going to leave voluntarily," he said.
Minimum wage index: Dayton said he supports indexing the minimum wage so that the value increases over time. But he doesn't think of it as a top priority. "If I stay awake at night worrying about things, that's not one of them," he said.
Polymet's proposed copper-nickel mine: When asked whether he thinks the Polymet mine should be built in northern Minnesota, Dayton said he doesn't know. "I'm intentionally remaining undecided and unresolved" until all the results of studies are compiled, he said.
Response to the people who say Dayton has been inconsistent in his views and decisions: "Those are Republican leaders, and I don't expect them to say anything good about me," Dayton said. "They're going to criticize me for breathing." He added that he doesn't think he's been inconsistent on his views about medical marijuana.
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE LATEST FROM THE CAPITOL:
• For it until he was against it? GOP hammers Dayton as flip-flopper
Gov. Mark Dayton started out opposed to medical marijuana, then suggested it wasn't much of an issue, then proposed a Mayo Clinic study and now doesn't want to talk about it anymore. It's a pattern of behavior his opponents say they've seen repeatedly during his first term as governor. (MPR News)
• Dayton denies telling mother of sick child to buy marijuana illegally
Gov. Mark Dayton on Friday denied that he told the mother of a sick child to buy marijuana illegally to help care for her son. (MPR News)
• 'Unsession' proposals closer to final passage
Dayton's administration unveiled a plan to do away with more than 1,000 antiquated or outdated laws that gunk up legal books and make government more aggravating for consumers. (Star Tribune)
• Gov. Dayton adds his voice to push for campaign cash disclosure
Sources of political spending that are now secret could be forced into the light of disclosure if Gov. Mark Dayton has his way. "This is about people's right to know who is trying to influence the outcome of elections and how much money they are investing to do so," Dayton said in an interview with the Star Tribune. "I strongly support that." (Star Tribune)