Minnesota lawmakers missed a deadline for completing their year’s work, and transitioned straight into a special session early Tuesday to complete work on a $46 billion, two-year budget.
The remaining bills include measures funding schools, health and human services programs; tax relief, bonding and transportation funding.
Before the legislature adjourned, the regular session legislators had reached agreement on only the four least controversial budget bills: agriculture, environment, higher education, jobs and energy.
The Agriculture Finance Bill represents a $4.97 million increase in the budget target, mostly in operating adjustments. In total, the agreement would appropriate $105.45 million for the Department of Agriculture, $10.87 million for the Board of Animal Health and $7.59 million for the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute. Included in the bill is a policy provision that clarifies that no Verification of Need or further documentation is needed before applying pesticides according to the federal label.
Another bill of interest passed before adjournment was the Omnibus Environment and Natural Resources Finance Bill.
Not included in the bill are delays for implementing the controversial buffer law. The date for buffers, or alternative water quality practices, to be in place on public waters would be Nov. 1, 2017, and Nov. 1, 2018, on ditches. The vetoed bill included a two-year delay.
However, the agreement does include a provision that provides an eight-month grace period to the 2017 deadline. Landowners who file a compliance plan with their soil and water conservation districts by Nov. 1 would be granted a conditional compliance waiver until July 1, 2018.
Governor Dayton is expected to sign both bills.
Cory Bennett is the lobbyist for the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association.