Skip to main content
Updated:
Original:

GOP senators cite 'clean cars junk,' manure rules in targeting of former MPCA commissioner Laura Bishop

"I guess she saved us some time," Sen. David Osmek said of her resignation.

Comments from two prominent Republican state senators are providing more insight into their targeting of Laura Bishop, the now-former Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) commissioner who resigned ahead of a confirmation hearing that likely would have resulted in her immediate removal.

"I want to say, there was a number of issues that just kept bubbling up, and it was more political than anything," said Senator Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake, of Bishop, in a Facebook video following her Tuesday resignation, "and so we just felt like we had to address it,"

Gazelka and the Senate extended their special session work, with plans to hold committee confirmation hearings (and later, full confirmation votes) on a handful of commissioners and appointees selected by DFL Gov. Tim Walz. But prior to Bishop's scheduled hearing, she resigned, with the governor's office saying Gazelka indicated to them she would not be confirmed in a Senate vote.

If the Senate voted not to confirm her, Bishop — who had served more than two years as MPCA commissioner, without the state Senate opting to hold a confirmation hearing — would have immediately been removed from the job.

Gazelka, in the Facebook video, says Bishop was "jamming" policies through rather than going through the legislative process. He highlighted three specific issues he had with her decisions:

Meanwhile, Sen. David Osmek, R-Mound, appeared on Ox in the Afternoon on KNSI, to discuss Bishop's resignation and the Senate's continued look at Walz's commissioners and appointees. 

"She was a horri - terrible commissioner. Absolutely terrible commissioner, particularly with that clean cars junk she was trying to ram through," Osmek told host Dan Ochsner. He later noted it wasn't only about the vehicle standards but "also how she's been treating legislators and acting as a commissioner," though he did not provide any specifics.

Osmek said that, while he was likely going to vote no on her confirmation, her fate wasn't sealed. 

"I guess she saved us some time," he said of her resignation.

The senator also hinted at the ongoing political strife between Walz and Republican legislators, particularly over his use of emergency powers during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed 7,615 people in Minnesota.

"And if the governor wasn't so bent on keeping his powers, you would never be in special session in the first place and [commissioner confirmation hearings] wouldn't be happening. Serves him right," Ochsner said to Osmek.

"You're correct," the senator replied.

Bishop: 'I do not work for Paul Gazelka's policies'

Bishop has offered some comments of her own.

In speaking with MPR (here and here), the former commissioner described what she called "political intimidation" from Gazelka.

"I work for the governor. I do not work for Paul Gazelka's policies," she said, noting the MPCA, under her watch, began moving in a positive direction with regards to addressing climate change and clean transportation options. 

"Unfortunately the Senate GOP would not have, in any of their bills when we negotiated in session, they would not allow for the words "climate change." They would not allow for the words "environmental justice." And they would not allow for the word equity," she said.

Bishop has also tweeted, and even mentioned GOP Sen. Carrie Ruud directly.

Walz, in announcing Bishop's resignation Tuesday, accused Republicans of using "taxpayer dollars to play partisan games," and trying to "politicize an agency charged with protecting Minnesotans from pollution because they refuse to acknowledge the science of climate change."

Senate adjourns without any confirmation votes

The Senate on Tuesday confirmed two Walz appointees: Aaron Vande Linde for Director of the Minnesota Office of School Trust Lands, and Mark Phillips for Commissioner of the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board.

The plan Wednesday was to hold votes on two more commissioners: Sarah Strommen at the DNR, and Jennifer Ho at the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency.

Instead, after a 9 a.m. start time, the Senate voted 46-18 to adjourn the special session without taking any more confirmation votes. Gazelka was among the yea votes, while Osmek voted against adjournment.

Next Up

unsplash - school girl students

St. Paul is closing 6 schools amid declining enrollment

The board revised the plan after the school communities voiced concerns.

Karl-Anthony Towns

X-rays negative after Karl-Anthony Towns takes scary fall

Towns crashed hard to the ground late in the game Wednesday night.

Minneapolis police

2 more homicides push Minneapolis closer to record set in 1995

The deadly shootings happened on the city's North Side Wednesday night.

Karl-Anthony Towns

KAT sets a franchise record, leaves early in loss to Wizards

Towns fell on his back in the final minutes of a loss in Washington.

Flickr - police lights squad siren - Edward Kimmel

Man shot by police in Forest Lake dies from injuries

It was one of two police shootings in the Twin Cities on the same day, both of which proved fatal.

Dylan Bundy

Report: Twins agree to deal with Dylan Bundy

The Twins signed the right-hander with a lockout imminent.

Flickr - face masks covid pole - Ivan Radic

'Everyone should really be masking up' in public, Malcolm says

The health commissioner said residents have gotten "a little bit lax" with some protective measures.

Byron Buxton

Byron Buxton believes he's the best player in baseball

"Nobody [does] the things that I do. I know that."

unsplash medical marijuana

Edibles coming to Minnesota's medical marijuana program

MDH also announced it will not add anxiety as qualifying condition.

plow, snowplow, snow

Plowable snow possible this weekend in Minnesota

Up to half a foot of snow could fall within the heaviest band.

Best Buy - jjbers, Flickr

Police reveal new details about 'coordinated' Best Buy thefts

A large group stole thousands of dollars in merchandise from three Twin Cities Best Buy stores.

Related

MPCA - Laura BIshop

Head of Pollution Control Agency resigns as GOP senators prepare her ouster

Walz accused the senators, who have removed two of his commissioners before, of playing partisan games.

FLickr - electric drive vehicle charging - Open Grid Scheduler

Minnesota can move ahead with Clean Cars program, judge says

She recommended the proposed rules be adopted.

paul gazelka

MN Senate GOP takes steps to keep majority in case of a Klobuchar cabinet position

Paul Gazelka introduced a motion Tuesday to make independent Sen. David Tomassoni president pro tempore of the Senate.

Flickr - state park sign - Tony Webster

State parks, DNR get their funding — with no impact on the 'Clean Cars' rule

The Senate GOP had threatened to withhold environmental funding unless the rule was scrapped.

gazelka paul

Unable to limit his COVID-19 powers, Senate GOP ousts Walz appointee

The state's Labor and Industry Commissioner is out of a job.

Grand Portage State Park

Senate GOP threatens State Parks, DNR shutdown if 'Clean Cars' rule isn't scrapped

Republicans are willing to hold up the omnibus environment bill to stop the MPCA from enacting Clean Cars rules.

Facebook - Line 3 frac out July 27 photo - Ron Turney

MPCA acknowledges 8 more drilling fluid releases during Line 3 work

That includes at least one fluid release into wetlands, which is a violation.