The Minnesota Senate has approved a bill that requires state agencies to streamline the environmental review and permitting processes for businesses.
Senators passed the bill Thursday by a vote of 49 to 16. Republicans and Democrats support the measure, which would require all environmental permits to be issued or denied within 150 days of submission.
GOP supporters say a streamlined permitting process will help make the state more business friendly and grow jobs. Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, said the state needs to move at the speed of commerce.
"If it's going to make it easier, if it's going to help the process of bringing some business here, we should certainly be looking at that," Ingebrigtsen said. "And we're looking at that mindful of the environment."
But Sen. Linda Higgins, D-Minneapolis, took issue with a provision that allows developers to hire their own consultants to prepare an environmental impact statement.
"If you find through your work that the project would have very negative environmental impact, the pressure on you as a company to not include those in your impact statement would be very great," Higgins said.
Gov. Mark Dayton last month directed two state agencies to meet most of the goals spelled out in the bill.