This year’s omnibus environment policy and finance bill was passed off the Senate floor this week as the second of this year’s omnibus bills to be taken up by the full body. Despite the numerous Senate DFL amendments offered to improve the bill, Senate Republicans stood firm in their opposition to craft a bipartisan bill and voted down each amendment.
Senate DFLers spoke passionately about the need to make historic investments in enhancing, conserving, and restoring our state’s natural habitats and ecosystems; protect the sustainability of clean water for our communities; provide critical support for our communities to make infrastructure upgrades that can withstand climate-related heavy rainfalls; and invest in our state parks, which have seen record levels of visitors as Minnesotans have turned to outdoor recreation during the COVID-19 pandemics. Instead, the Republican bill favors polluters by attacking the permitting process meant to protect Minnesotans and our environment, jeopardizes the availability of clean, sustainable water, and threatens the health of our state’s precious ecosystems.
With a $9.2 billion budget surplus this year, it is disappointing that Republicans would only set aside a paltry $1.4 million for our state’s environmental needs – less than 1% of the state’s surplus. Minnesotans cherish the outdoor experiences our state has to offer, but this year’s bill signals Senate Republicans are not interested in being responsible stewards of our state’s resources.
The bill passed despite strong opposition from the Senate DFL, but we will continue to work with our partners in the House to fight for a stronger bill in the conference committee process. We are committed to passing a bill that acknowledges the threat climate change poses to our communities, invests in the work being done to enhance the state’s habitats and outdoor recreation opportunities, and keeps our environment clean. (SF 4062)