When Gov. Mark Dayton signed S.F. 1567 into law, thereby streamlining the state’s environmental permitting processes, it represented a high-water mark for bipartisan cooperation. For Minnesota’s business community, where complaints about the economic harms of delays have been common, it constituted a major victory. Among the major provisions of the law: defined deadlines, “one-stop” assistance from a newly created environmental permit coordinator, and an explicit mandate to strip out duplicative requirements.
Credit for this goes to the two principal authors: state Rep. Dan Fabian (R-Roseau) and state Sen. Bill Ingebrigsten (R-Alexandria).
Fabian, 58, is a longtime school teacher and small-government conservative who was first elected in 2010. He received his bachelor’s degree from Concordia College and, later, a master’s in physical education from the University of North Dakota. He is also a self-employed crop hail insurance adjuster.
Ingebrigsten, 60, spent most of his career in law enforcement. He was elected sheriff of Douglas County in 1991, a position he retained until his retirement in 2007. In 2006, he defeated a longtime incumbent DFLer to win his current seat in the Senate. As chair of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee, Ingebrigsten also serves on the influential Lessard Sams Outdoor Heritage Council (which, ironically, is named partially in honor of his Senate predecessor, the late Dallas Sams).
Also deserving accolades for the reforms is Jeff Smith of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Smith, who earned his degree in environmental studies from Hamline University in 1990, currently serves as the director of the industrial division of the MPCA. Since Gov. Mark Dayton first issued an executive order setting 150-day goal for issuing permit rulings (subsequently enshrined in law), the MPCA has stepped to the plate. According to Smith, 99 percent of permit applications for new construction have been processed within that time frame.