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Minn. Senate oks bill to quicken business permits

ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Senate approved a bill last week aimed at speeding up environmental reviews and permits for businesses.

The package passed the Republican-controlled chamber 49-16 after Democrats objected to changes in the court appeals process and a provision allowing businesses to commission their own draft environmental reviews. Democratic Sen. Linda Higgins of Minneapolis says that provision would present a conflict of interest, but the Senate voted to keep it.

Republican Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen of Alexandria says the state needs to move at the speed of commerce.

The bill would set a goal for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Department of Natural Resources to rule on permit applications within 150 days. It would allow appeals over permits to go directly to the court of appeals instead of starting with lower courts.

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