The Minnesota House on Thursday, April 22 approved an omnibus bill related to agriculture despite lacking broad, bipartisan support.
State Rep. Paul Anderson, R-Starbuck, is the Republican lead on the House Agriculture Finance and Policy Committee. Anderson said he supports the bill’s fiscal provisions but indicated there are concerns with several of its policy measures.
Anderson voted against the bill, which passed 69-63 along party lines.
“The agriculture section is a relatively small portion of our state’s overall budget, but it supports an important part of our state’s economy,” Anderson said. “I am satisfied with the funding components of this bill, including support it provides for retail service stations to handle higher blends of ethanol gasoline. I also am pleased with additional resources for farmers’ mental health and farm safety. At the same time, there are concerning policy changes in this bill that make this bill more controversial than usual.”
In particular, Anderson said he opposes a provision in the bill (H.F. 1524) that eliminates the Senate’s confirmation process for the governor’s appointments to the Board of Animal Health. Anderson said this would eliminate legislative oversight and cede power to the governor.
Anderson said he also objects to a provision which strips the BAH of its authority to appoint the state veterinarian and provides the governor with that responsibility – a move that Anderson said could politicize the position.
“There are issues that need to be resolved with this bill and I am optimistic a conference committee will iron out those things before the bill comes back to the House for final passage,” Anderson said. “There is still a long way to go in the process and plenty of time to make this bill better so that it can gain bipartisan support for final passage. I will continue working to help make that happen.”
A $30 million allocation for the Border-to-Border program, which expands high-speed internet access to unserved and underserved areas of the state, was added to the bill late in the committee process.