The Potluck

After Senate adopted refinery safety amendment with large margin, finance committee might remove it

By: - June 21, 2021 12:36 pm

The Marathon oil refinery in St. Paul Park. Photo by Max Nesterak/Minnesota Reformer.

The legislative fate of some provisions in the jobs bill are undecided, as the Republian-led Senate voted 36-30 on Monday to send the jobs budget bill back to the Senate finance committee, where some items will be added and others deleted, said Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake.

Some Democratic-Farmer-Labor lawmakers sought assurances from Gazelka that a provision approved 50-17 on Friday would remain in the bill: a requirement that refinery contract employees complete training from an approved apprenticeship program.

Marathon refinery workers have rallied at the Capitol for passage of the legislation, which they say would make the refinery safer.

The amendment adopted on Friday came from state Sen. Karla Bigham, DFL-Cottage Grove, who on Monday asked Gazelka whether her provision would be stripped out of the bill in the finance committee. It had support from many Republican state lawmakers, but Gazelka and two other key lawmakers voted against it, including state Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, the Senate Finance Committee chair, and state Sen. Eric Pratt, R-Prior Lake, chair of the Senate jobs committee.

Gazelka was noncommittal about the outcome of Bigham’s provision. 

“We still think that it’s wise to let the Finance Committee sort through the issues, including that one,” he said. “When it comes back to the floor, we will be able to have another discussion with everybody here about what they did or didn’t do and why and then we can decide whether the bill is the right bill to send forward to the House.”

The jobs bill also has $6.2 million in state funds for a planned land bridge over I-94 in the Rondo neighborhood of St. Paul. The amount is available to match federal funds and for project planning and development.

Gazelka also offered an update on the status of two budget bills: education and health and human services. He said they are “one little tweak” away from finishing up both bills. 

Lawmakers have to approve a new two-year budget by June 30 or parts of state government will begin to shut down. Lawmakers returned last week into a special session to finish the work of completing a new $52 billion state budget. 

“Everything that is outstanding is just closing up now, so that’s a good sign,” he said.

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Ricardo Lopez
Ricardo Lopez

Ricardo Lopez is the senior political reporter for the Reformer. Ricardo is not new to Minnesota politics, previously reporting on the Dayton administration and statehouse for The Star Tribune from 2014 to 2017, and the Republican National Convention in 2016. Previously, he was a staff writer at The Los Angeles Times covering the California economy. He's a Las Vegas native who has adopted Minnesota as his home state. In his spare time, he likes to run, cook and volunteer with Save-a-Bull, a Minneapolis dog rescue group.