Special session of Minnesota Legislature to deal with … Just about everything

OK, so maybe it’s a stretch to say that lawmakers have just about everything to deal with during a special session of the Minnesota Legislature. In terms of a $40 billion or so annual budget, lawmakers got halfway done during the regular session, which began in early January and run through May 18.

But there’s some big items left to complete in order to avoid a partial shutdown of state government. Among them is an environment budget bill that includes funding for agencies such as the Board of Water and Soil Resources, DNR, and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Also left to complete is a Legacy bill, which includes funds from the Outdoor Heritage Fund. Failure to pass that bill wouldn’t be disastrous, but there’s no good reason not to pass it, either.

In previous sessions, environment and outdoor bills have been among the final ones passed. I don’t know if that’s because they’re important in end-of-session “global agreements,” or if they’re just relatively unimportant to many legislators (I’m increasingly starting to think that’s the case).

But it feels weird that just about everything dealing with the environment and the outdoors (save for the bill that includes funds from the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund) remains to be hashed out in the special session. The House passed the Legacy bill with just minutes left in the session, but the Senate didn’t have time. And the environment finance bill is in play because it drew a veto from Gov. Mark Dayton.

There’s some interrelationship between the bills, too. The finance bill, for example, includes Dayton’s buffer initiative, which he pegged as one of his priorities for the session. The Clean Water Fund portion of the Legacy bill includes money to actually implement the buffers initiative. So there’s reason to think both will get done during a special session, which could begin as early as next week.

At this point, the extent of lawmakers’ agreement is they’ll conduct a special session in the State Office Building, given the Capitol reconstruction that’s under way.

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