As the Minnesota legislature rolls on toward its May 22 end-of-session deadline, bad bills keep on coming. Here’s a quick list of some of the worst. Call your legislators, conference committee members, and Governor Dayton to just say no to bad environmental legislation, private prisons, and protest penalties.
You can smell this one a mile away – Republican legislators and factory farms want to double the size of livestock operations subject to environmental regulation and local control. Lifelong farmer Dale Post writes in the Waseca County News:
“Right now, proposed feedlots over 1,000 animal units must do an environmental review before being built. This is the largest 7 percent of feedlots in our state and is equal to 3,333 hogs. The overwhelming majority of family run livestock farms in our state are well below this size.” [NOTE: An “animal unit” measures the environmental impact of animals – a cow under 1,000 pounds is one animal unit. A 55-300 pound pig is one-third of an animal unit.]
This bill has been rolled into the omnibus environment and natural resources finance bill (HF0888/SF0723). It’s not the only stinker in the bill, which also undermines the buffer law protecting Minnesota waterways and substantially weakens environmental regulatory authority.
Spreading the pain around – the legislature also proposes cutting funding for state parks, even though the state park system is getting bigger and more people are using state parks.
Taking away local control – rolling back sick time and minimum wage wins
Neighborhoods Organizing for Change has a good summary of this travesty – HF 600 and SF 580 – which has passed both houses:
“Big business lobbyists have proposed a bill in the Minnesota legislature called “local preemption” that would prevent cities from passing their own higher labor standards and minimum wages. This bill, taken from corporate lobby group ALEC, would REPEAL paid sick time in Minneapolis and St. Paul; make it ILLEGAL for cities to raise the minimum wage; and DESTROY cities’ power to set higher standards for wages and working conditions.
“This is a direct attack on the workers of color who have been leading the fight for a $15 minimum wage, paid sick time, and better scheduling policies in an effort to close the worst racial disparities in the nation — and a clear power grab by corporate special interests.
“What’s more, this is an attack on local democracy. Every community is different, and local governments should be able to set standards that work for their community. Stopping local governments from addressing their communities’ needs is not how we solve the pressing problems facing Minnesota.”
Both Minneapolis and St. Paul have passed paid sick time ordinances. This legislation targets both those ordinances and any local minimum wage increases.
Public safety? Not really
The omnibus public safety bill is so bad that it’s hard to know where to start. Sally Jo Sorenson has a great summary over at Bluestem Prairie – go there for more information. Here’s a quick list of some of the more obnoxious provisions:
Private prisons? Yep – the bill calls for re-opening a 1,640 bed private prison in Appleton if ANY additional beds are needed. But it won’t allow adding 75 more “boot camp” beds at Willow River and Togo or remodeling a vacant building at Lino Lakes to add 60 beds. So, if the state needs an additional 100 beds, the answer is to pay a private prison operator to run 1,640 beds? Makes Republican sense, I guess.
Slash staff. Department of Corrections Commissioner Tom Roy writes: “The DOC will need to lay off staff without the Governor’s request of $47.6 million for compensation. … The Senate funding level of only $6.812 million, is $41 million less than the Governor. The House bill at $16 million is $30 million less.” (Thanks to Sally Jo Sorenson for uploading Roy’s letter.)
Penalize protesters. The public safety bill also increases the penalties for protesting – maybe that’s how they plan to fill 1600 beds in the private prison at Appleton.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TODAY
And tomorrow. And every day between now and May 22.
Call Governor Mark Dayton – 651-201-3400. Pick a specific piece of bad legislation – weakening the buffer law, pre-empting local employment laws, increasing protest penalties, mandating a private prison, whatever. Call Governor Mark Dayton. Tell him you want him to just say no to any omnibus bill that contains this bad legislation. Tell him he is the last line of defense, and that you support him vetoing as many bills as he needs to in order to defend Minnesota.
Call your Minnesota representatives. Find your representatives here. Or call conference committee members. Find conference committee members here. Then find phone numbers for all House members here and for Senators here.
And one more thing: Sally Jo Sorenson does a terrific job of reporting on the legislature every single month of every single year. Click on over to Bluestem Prairie, subscribe to her blog, and make a donation to support her good work.