By Loretta Jaus
Last Thursday I traveled from my dairy farm in Sibley County to the Governor’s Mansion in Saint Paul. I wanted to be with other Minnesotans who were gathered there to let Gov. Mark Dayton know that House File 846 was bad for Minnesota, especially rural Minnesota.
Many provisions favoring corporate polluters and special interests had been inserted into this bill, which funds the state Departments of Agriculture and Natural Resources, as well as the Pollution Control Agency.
One provision called for eliminating the 48-year-old Citizens’ Board of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. This provision was slipped into the bill late on Saturday, May 16. With the legislature set to adjourn two days later, the public had next to no chance to be made aware of this last-minute insertion before the whole bill was passed. This would be a huge setback for environmental protection: the Citizens’ Board creates a public and transparent process for decision making and guards the agency against undue corporate influence.
As a family farmer, I wanted to let the Governor know how wrong I thought passing this legislation was and urge him to veto it. To our surprise, Governor Dayton invited us onto the lawn and met with us.
His willingness to speak honestly with Minnesotans and say what he thinks instead of speaking in sound bites is a strength of this Governor, and it was no different that day. He listened and shared with us what he was struggling with when it comes to this legislation.
Ultimately, the Governor made the tough decision and the right decision to use his veto pen. In his veto letter, Gov. Dayton said: “Minnesotans care deeply about our Great Outdoors, and expect that our regulatory agencies will have the authority needed to protect natural resources. House File 846 weakens the state’s authority and threatens our future generations’ right to clean water, land and air.”
His letter went on to list eight other provisions in his letter that are a step backwards for protecting our communities from corporate polluters.
We are fortunate that Gov. Dayton used his veto pen to stop corporate special interests from stepping on the public interest. During the upcoming special session, Speaker of the House Rep. Kurt Daudt and Senate Majority Leader Sen. Tom Bakk need to fix this bill and send it back to the Governor.
You can take action and add your voice to those standing up to corporate interests and demanding than the Citizens’ Board stays strong by clicking here.
Loretta Jaus is a dairy farmer from Gibbon, Minn., and a Land Stewardship Project board member.