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Dayton vetoes two more bills, adds to special session agenda

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Gov. Mark Dayton has vetoed two more budget bills that were passed in the final hours of the legislative session on Monday night. That means lawmakers will have more items on their agenda when they meet in a special session, likely to occur in June.

Dayton, a DFLer, had already vetoed the education budget bill because he said lawmakers didn't provide enough funding for his proposal to offer pre-kindergarten classes statewide.

Dayton announced Saturday afternoon he also vetoed the agriculture and environment bill and the jobs and energy budget bill.

Agriculture and environment bill

This bill appropriates money to state agencies involved with managing the state's agriculture, environment and natural resources activities.

The agriculture and environment bill included one of Dayton's top priorities for the session: A requirement that farmers plant buffer strips along drainage ditches, streams and other waterways. The bill also included money to help deal with the avian flu outbreak which has hit Minnesota's poultry farmers especially hard.

But Dayton had several complaints about the final measure, including the fact that it eliminated the citizens board that has overseen the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency for nearly 40 years. Dayton's veto letter includes several other elements of the bill, which he said "undermines decades of environmental protections" in the state.

Environmental advocates had actually encouraged the governor to reject the measure, according to MPR News.

Jobs and energy bill

This bill appropriates money to state agencies involved with economic and workforce development, labor and industry, housing, commerce, and energy.

Dayton said he vetoed this bill because it didn't have enough funding for the Department of Commerce and other agencies, or for programs like a rural broadband expansion fund. He also criticized the measure for creating disincentives for the use of alternative energy like wind and solar power, the Associated Press reports.

“It seems the governor’s version of compromise is his way or the highway. Moving forward from this veto, which blindsided us, will be difficult,” said Rep. Denny McNamara, R-Hastings.

Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt of Crown said he was “very disappointed” with Dayton's vetoes, according to MPR News.

Potential impacts

The current state budget expires on June 30, so new funding measures in the affected areas need to be approved by then to avoid a partial government shutdown.

Dayton said Saturday that layoff alert notices will be sent to about 10,000 state employees on June 1, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Without new agreements, on July 1 state employees who work in the areas of K-12 education, economic development, agriculture and environment would be out of work.

State parks would also be affected, Dayton said, since they get their funding through the environment budget. Without a budget deal, parks would have to stop taking reservations on June 15, the Pioneer Press notes.

Special session plans

No date or location for a special session has been announced. Lawmakers can't meet at the State Capitol because it's undergoing extensive renovations.

Gov. Dayton is the one with the authority to call the Legislature into special session, and he is unlikely to do so until there is agreement among all parties on the measures to be considered.

During his news conference Saturday, the governor offered another compromise to lawmakers to break the impasse over funding of E-12 education.

He asked for $650 million in new money for education, compared to the $400 million the Legislature passed. But he said he would then pair it with a temporary $250 million tax cut, according to the Star Tribune. He also dropped his demand that the prekindergarten program be universal and lowered the cost about 60 percent.

Dayton will meet with House Speaker Kurt Daudt on Tuesday, according to the Associated Press.

What he signed

The governor signed the last two bills still awaiting his action.

  • The budget measure to fund state government.
  • A measure governing how police use automated license-plate readers. Location data from motorists’ movements can be kept only 60 days unless the information is relevant to a criminal case.

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