Republicans halt any progress in Environment negotiations, jeopardizing budget for Minnesotans

Despite the willingness of House DFL conferees to hold hearings and dig into the policy differences between the two versions of this year’s Environment Omnibus bill, Senate Republicans have stated on the record that they will refuse to negotiate on any items unless the Legislature removes Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s (PCA) authority to regulate vehicle emissions standards. This stance is jeopardizing critical funding for a number of important budget areas, including funding for our state parks, the Minnesota Zoo and Science Museum, and projects across the state to protect and enhance our great wilderness and precious ecosystems.

The House held the gavel three times this week, and each hearing heard testimony from those charged with running state agencies seeking funding from the committee. The testimony focused on the vast number of projects that would go by the wayside should Senate Republicans continue to dig their heels in and refuse to pass a budget. Things like efforts to combat invasive species and chronic wasting disease (CWD) in our deer population, habitat restoration and preservation projects, providing economic relief to core industries and attractions that were among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, and ensuring Minnesota’s natural resources are accessible to all Minnesotans – these are examples of what is on the line should Republicans continue in their refusal to negotiate in good faith.

The Senate held one hearing during the week and took that opportunity to once again question PCA commissioners and staff about the Clean Cars rules that are in the process of being adopted. Despite the recent ruling from a nonpartisan Administrative Law Judge that deemed the proposed rules are “needed and reasonable,” Republicans continue to spread falsehoods and half truths about the impacts the rules will have on Minnesotans.

With less than five days remaining until the end of session, it is becoming increasingly unlikely the Legislature will finish with the work that needs to be completed – meaning Minnesotans hoping to attend state parks or go fishing this summer may be forced to sit at home while the Republicans shut down agencies responsible for maintaining these services. (SF 959)