Despite industry crisis, steel provisions fail Minnesota House

Brian, Flickr CC

PHOTO: Brian, Flickr CC

With a summer of political and economic hardship ahead, Iron Range lawmakers tried to attach “buy American steel” provisions to state projects under debate this week at the legislature in St. Paul. These kinds of provisions have been used in the past, particularly in association with the new Vikings stadium and other large projects. New GOP leadership in Minnesota’s House of Representative, however, declined to pass any of these rules, prompting the ire of House DFLers from the Iron Range.

Here’s the press release from Reps. Tom Anzelc, Carly Melin and Jason Metsa (some thoughts afterward):

ST. PAUL— Late last night, members of the Iron Range delegation moved to urgently take up legislation requiring any publicly-funded projects using steel to be built with steel made in the United States of America. This provision would help combat illegal steel dumping, which is crashing the domestic steel market and the Minnesota taconite industry. Minnesota House Republicans voted several times to block the legislation to increase demand for steel made in the United States. That legislation ultimately did not pass.

“It is shameful the Republican majority would actively and deliberately go out of their way to block a policy that would help Minnesota families,” said Representative Carly Melin (DFL-Hibbing). “More than 1100 Minnesota workers will be filing for unemployment in a month, and the Republican majority decided that requiring use of American-made steel wasn’t worth their time. The Republican majority created a special committee for mining because they wanted people to think they care about the people on the Iron Range, but that committee is all lip service. We now know the Republicans don’t care about protecting Minnesota mining jobs.”

“I am absolutely offended with the Republican majority’s callous actions,” said Jason Metsa (DFL-Virginia). “If there was any question about who stands with the families of the Iron Range, it is clear that last night it wasn’t House Republicans. They did everything in their power to block legislation that would create more demand for Minnesota taconite and help get people back to work.”

“The Republican majority would rather support illegally dumped steel from communist China than American workers,” said Rep. Mesta. “If the House Republican Leadership really cared about Minnesota they would stop screwing the Iron Range and support common sense, buy local, buy American policies.”

“I don’t understand why Republican members would block policies that help get people back to work,” said Representative Tom Anzelc (DFL-Balsam Township). “I am absolutely shocked. I don’t know what special corporate interest this helps, but it sure doesn’t help the families on the Iron Range. The Iron Range delegation as a whole has been working for years to help make the industry more competitive, but this is the first time I have seen so many members stand against the Iron Range—it is beyond shocking, it is disgusting. The Republican Majority is more interested in their so called rules than the people of the Iron Range.”

Keetac, Minntac, and Magnetation are all idling facilities next month because of low ore prices connected to steel dumping. The mining sector produces over 30% of the GDP in Northeast Minnesota.

I have occasionally run afoul of local DFLers with my assertion that steel dumping is a result of global factors, not the cause of it. Nevertheless, there is little doubt that the vitality of the American iron and steel industries will depend very heavily on our ability to corner our own U.S. market, so to speak. Unfortunately right now, the beleaguered American manufacturing sector is all too happy to accept cheap steel, which is in effect beleaguering American mines and steel mills.

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.