UPDATED Saturday 7:40 a.m.
A revolt among Minnesota Senate Democrats failed to stop the passage on an environmental bill early Saturday morning. Debate on the legislation which DFL Sen. Scott Dibble had called a “historic step backwards” for the environment forced what was supposed to be a one day special session into the early hours of Saturday morning.
On Friday, the Senate passed the environmental bill after Democrats stripped out provisions environmentalists had objected to. But the House turned around and put them right back in and sent it back to the Senate. Republicans in the Senate eventually came up with enough votes to pas it.
Sen. Scott Dibble led the charge to change the bill, calling it a “historic step backwards” for the environment. In a passionate speech (video above) Dibble argued against provisions that removed citizen oversight of environmental regulations, loosened regulations on sulfide mining, and allowed pesticides and plants to be labeled as “pollinator friendly” even though they might make bees sick.
He was joined by fellow DFL Senator John Marty, who made many of the same arguments.
The two were part of a growing chorus of DFLers who expressed displeasure with the deals Majority Leader Tom Bakk has struck with Republicans and Governor Mark Dayton. A coalition of Democrats and Republicans voted to block the original version of the bill. It failed by just one vote — forcing Senate leadership to consider amendments that restored the citizens review board and regulations on sulphide mining. However, the provision allowing certain plants and pesticides to be labeled “pollinator friendly” was kept in.
The environmental bill, which also covers agricultural issues, is mostly a budget bill — and without it, Minnesota’s government faced a partial shutdown on July 1. That would have meant closing down state parks just before the 4th of July holiday weekend and laying off several thousand state employees.
Video at top:Senator Scott Dibble tells the Senate why the environmental bill should not pass.
Video below: Senators Jeff Hayden, Warren Limmer, Scott Dibble and John Marty comment about the progress or lack of in Friday’s special session.