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Split vote sends budget, policy bill out of environment committee

Rep. Rick Hansen (DFL-South St. Paul) doesn’t expect everyone will agree on every aspect of a fairly comprehensive finance and policy bill approved Wednesday by the House Environment and Natural Resources Finance and Policy Committee.

“But I think we can all agree that prevention is better than cleanup,” he said.

In his estimation, the bill he sponsors could help prevent potential problems coming from neonicotinoids pesticides, concentration of polluters in specific areas, and excess packaging waste.

“It provides for jobs and provides for people,” Hansen said.

Members sent HF3911, as amended, to the House Ways and Means Committee on a 9-7 vote. Rep. Dave Lislegard (DFL-Aurora) joined Republicans in voting against the bill but said he will continue to work with Hansen on issues of concern.

Rep. John Burkel (R-Badger) is troubled by language defining certain agricultural products, setting new rules for off-road vehicles and loosening rules on elk herd management, saying the people most directly affected aren’t being taken into account.

“This bill has tons of provisions that are bad for business, bad for farming and bad for people who enjoy the outdoors,” he said.

Rep. Josh Heintzeman (R-Nisswa) believes the bill would add to the time it takes for businesses to get Pollution Control Agency permits. He said Minnesota already takes longer than any other state.

Responding to concerns that the bill could cost jobs, Hansen cited a report from the Pollution Control Agency that removing PFAS from wastewater could cost $12 billion to $25 billion over the next 20 years. Attempts to regulate the chemicals years ago were thwarted.

“They said we’ve got to have the jobs,” Hansen said. “Well now we have the cleanup.”

Before voting, the committee adopted several amendments, including some that would:

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