Minnesota Senate rejects environment bill, then later passes it

The special session is underway at the Capitol to save the layoffs of nearly 9,500 state workers, and already there's a major snag. The senate has voted down the bill that funds the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and agriculture programs.

UPDATE as of 9 p.m.- Senate passed amended agricultural-environmental bill 40-26. Bill is now in the House.

Gov. Mark Dayton made an appeal to senators on this Thursday night. He personally visited the senate DFL caucus to try and persuade them not to amend this bill and to pass it as-is, but that didn't work.

All of it happened during the first special session in a century to be held outside of the state capitol building. From chaos to order, this is a session that is special. Despite differences, the jobs and energy bill passed and heads to the governor.

But the debate on the agriculture and environment bill was with Sen. John Marty (DFL-Roseville) fighting to save the citizens board to the pollution control agency.

The environment bill gained attention because it eliminates an oversight board at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and scales back other regulatory requirements in the name of more-efficient permitting.

"I feel that if we don't pass this today we are in an imminent position of laying off state workers and forcing a partial government shutdown, not a good thing for the people of Minnesota," Sen. David Tomassoni said.

But the votes simply were not there. Just 12 of 39 Senate Democrats voted to approve the bill, joining with 21 Republicans to fall just one vote short of the 34-vote threshold.

Later on, Marty made amendments to the bill causing the Senate to pass it.  It essentially reinstates the MPCA citizen's board and repeals the ferrous mining rule changes.

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