Gov. Mark Dayton on Monday vetoed a bill local legislators authored to protect successor companies from suffering undue asbestos liability in certain cases.
Specifically, the Innocent Successor Asbestos-Related Liability Fairness Act (S.F. 1236) would limit the liability of successor companies in acquisitions that took place before 1972 – the year the federal government began regulating asbestos as a health risk – but only if that company did not manufacture asbestos after the merger.
Rep. Kelby Woodard (R-Belle Plaine) and Sen. Mike Parry (R-Waseca) are respective chief authors of the bill. Parry said current employers are unfairly being strapped by burdens they unknowingly inherited.
“I am disappointed to see another jobs bill vetoed by Governor Dayton this week,” Parry said. “The job provider that brought this issue to my attention employs hundreds of Minnesotans – a reality that is threatened by the continued, unfair costs they are forced to pay even though they are innocent successors. This bill is common sense; how much do you make a company pay that had no knowledge, that was not in the asbestos business and never intended to be in the asbestos business? We want job creators to stay in Minnesota and expand, but the governor’s veto sends the opposite signal to employers.”
Woodard said this bill would have continued to allow victims of asbestos related diseases access to the $38.6 billion asbestos fund created by companies who actually made or distributed asbestos products.
"The issue here is whether companies who had a secondary relationship with asbestos companies prior to 1972 should be required by Wall Street to hold huge reserves that could instead be used for expansion of facilities and job creation in Minnesota," Woodard said. "In fact this bill was supported by the Steelworkers Union who recognize that over 400 union jobs at Crown Cork & Seal remain in jeopardy until this issue is resolved in Minnesota as it has been in at least 18 other states. The governor has expressed an understanding of this unique situation which makes his veto that much more disappointing."
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