DNR says state rules bill endangers hunting, fishing seasons
By: Don Davis/State Capitol Bureau, Pine Journal
ST. PAUL -- The Dayton administration fears a Senate Republican proposal to place a moratorium on state rule making could mean two years without hunting and fishing seasons.
Assistant Commissioner Bob Meier of the Department of Natural Resources told the Senate jobs committee Thursday that was one of many concerns Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton has with a bill to stop state rulemaking for two years.
Meier said hunting and fishing seasons are established by rule, not law. A Senate attorney said legislators could pass a rule, but it would have to be more specific than most laws they pass.
The common practice is that legislators pass a law and non-elected state officials go through an often-lengthy process to adopt rules to fulfill the law.
The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Ted Lillie, R-Lake Elmo, said that the state makes too many rules, and hurts businesses in the process.
“What we need is a time out,” he said Thursday before the Senate jobs committee approved the measure by voice vote, sending it to at least one more committee before the full Senate can debate it.
There is no equivalent bill in the House.
Lillie and a Rochester restaurant owner said that a proliferation of rules costs businesses money that they otherwise could use to hire workers.
J.P. Zubay, who said he has owned 16 restaurants, told the committee that complaint was that an electrical inspector required him to put a cage around a light switch 12 feet off the floor, well above anyone’s reach. That brought an immediate response from Commissioner Ken Peterson of the Department of Labor and Industry, who agreed that the requirement did not seem reasonable and pledged to work with Zubay.
Those are the types of issues Lillie wants to avoid, although his bill would not change any existing rules.
“It is just stifling out there,” Zubay said. “I feel like my main job is to navigate through the government minefield.”
Lillie said he does not know how many jobs could be gained or how many rules normally would be made in the two years he suggests for the moratorium.
Senate Rules Chairman Geoff Michel, R-Edina, said the bill is designed to “top the pile-on.”
While many senators said they liked the concept of Lillie’s bill, some wanted questions answered.
“I want to hear about the consequences of not doing it for two years,” Sen. Patricia Torres Ray, DFL-Minneapolis, said.
Meier said Dayton feels strongly about the administration’s right to make rules.
Peterson said that he thinks revising a massive building code his department is doing would be suspended if the Lillie bill becomes law.
Lillie disagreed that the code work and hunting and fishing seasons would be affected. The issue is bound to reappear in the next committee hearing.
Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.