Republicans in the Minnesota House and Senate are moving quickly this session to repeal the state's nuclear power moratorium, and some Democrats are wondering why.
A House committee advanced the bill last week, and an initial Senate hearing is expected next week. With the state facing a projected $6.2 billion budget deficit, DFL House Minority Leader Paul Thissen of Minneapolis said nuclear power shouldn't be a priority.
"Everybody acknowledged that there's not going to be a nuclear plant built for 15 or 20 years," Thissen said. "Not even in the plans for any utility in the state for 15 years, which is as far as they plan out. So, the idea that this is a jobs bill that is going to create construction jobs this year, next year, five years, 10 years from now is a myth, and we need to move beyond that."
Supporters of the repeal said they want nuclear power on the table as the state discusses future energy needs. Governor Dayton has said he opposes the repeal.
Republicans said they will also introduce several proposals to reduce state spending before Governor Mark Dayton unveils his budget proposal.
Dayton is scheduled to release a budget plan on February 15 that is expected to include an income tax increase on top earners.
Republicans insist they can balance the $6.2 billion budget deficit without any tax increases. GOP House Majority Leader Matt Dean of Dellwood wouldn't offer specifics, but he said his caucus will soon introduce some budget related bills.
"If you look at bill introductions very, very soon, you're going to start seeing some bills coming up that will deal with this immediately in the budget and within all areas of the budget," Dean said.
Legislative leaders typically wait until after the governor's budget release to outline their alternative proposal.