With session’s end, dirty legislation dropped on Dayton’s desk

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By Matt Doll, Minnesota Environmental Partnership

After three months of debate and discussion, the Minnesota Legislature on Sunday concluded its 2018 session following the passage of several last-minute bills. Governor Mark Dayton has less than a week and a half to decide whether to sign, veto, or modify spending in the bills that remain on his desk.

Fortunately, Governor Dayton has already vetoed several bills that would roll back environmental protections. We thank the Governor for vetoing:

  • The Line 3 Giveaway bill: This bill would have given Enbridge Energy immediate approval to construct its proposed pipeline along the company’s preferred route. It would have bypassed the Public Utilities Commission’s process for considering whether to grant a certificate of need to the project, a process that is scheduled to conclude with final hearings in June. This would have betrayed thousands of Minnesotans who have testified  and engaged throughout the process.
  • The Omnibus Supplemental Budget bill: This bill tied funding for programs to a pile of bad policy. Among the provisions were cuts to the Renewable Development fund, a 16-year holiday for industry to avoid responsible water treatment, and an irresponsible rollback of our protection against the spread of invasive species between Minnesota’s waters.

Now, we call on Governor Dayton to hold the line for our environmental protections and veto:

  • Items in the Bonding Bill that would raid our Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund: This fund was created by Minnesota voters via a constitutional amendment to spend lottery money on research and projects that help clean up and conserve Minnesota’s natural resources. This legislation would improperly take that money to spend on ordinary sewers, a basic government service. While these are worthy projects, they should be funded responsibly, as they have been traditionally, with state bonding – raiding the Trust Fund leaves it open to further raids for inappropriate purposes in the future.
  • The Guilty by Association Bill, which would create broad penalties against citizens and organizations who support or attend a protest where so-called “critical infrastructure” is damaged. For example, a person who attends or supports a protest against a pipeline at which someone else damages the pipeline could be held liable, even if they had nothing to do with the action. It’s against Minnesota values of democracy and free speech, and it’s targeted at those who want to protect our water and public health.
  • The bill to gut protections for wild rice waters by short-circuiting the regulatory process  for sulfate pollution. It would allow new industries like the PolyMet and Twin Metals sulfide mines to be completely exempt from requirements to control sulfate pollution that kills off wild rice and increases harmful mercury levels in our lakes, rivers and streams. The Governor vetoed the Legislature’s previous bill in hopes of a better compromise on protecting wild rice, but this bill is a step backward, not forward. (Use our action alert below to ask Governor Dayton for a veto!)

We thank Governor Dayton for standing against rollbacks to Minnesotans’ health and resources in his final session. And we thank all the Minnesotans who have spoken up to ask the Governor and the Legislature to protect Minnesota values!

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