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Dayton threatens bonding bill veto over sprinklers

Gov. Mark  Dayton said Monday he will veto a public works bill if the Legislature insists on including language in it that would ban the state from requiring sprinklers in any new homes.

The Minnesota Senate has language in its version of the bonding bill that would do that.

Supporters say the requirement would increase the cost of home construction, but Dayton said the sprinkler ban has no place in the bonding bill.

"I will veto the bonding bill if it has this provision in it," Dayton said. "As much as I want that bonding bill, I will not have something rammed down my throat."

The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry is working on an update to Minnesota's Building Code that is likely to recommend that sprinklers be required in any new homes over 4,500 square feet. The measure is expected to go into effect in 2015.

The debate over sprinklers has been a contentious one over the past several years and has been heavily lobbied by several interest groups. Dayton vetoed bills in 2011 and 2012 that exempted the state from the sprinkler requirement. 

The Minnesota Association of Realtors and the Minnesota Builders Association are lobbying to exempt the state from the sprinkler requirement. The Minnesota State Fire Chiefs Association are lobbying in support of it.

Sen. Carla Nelson,R-Rochester, said she does not support the sprinkler requirement. She called Dayton's stance unreasonable.

"He would have an incredible amount of explaining to the people of Minnesota if he were to veto the bonding bill because the exemption from sprinklers is in it," Nelson said. "It sounds like the highest form of hostage taking to me.”

It isn't clear whether Dayton's veto threat will prompt bonding bill author Sen. LeRoy Stumpf, DFL-Plummer, to remove the measure from the bill.

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