Reel it in!
The House Environment and Agriculture Budget is on the floor this week and it’s chock full of good stuff. At first glance, investments in our drinking water, lakes and rivers, parks and trails, and habitat and wildlife are UP over previous years, giving us all a great reason to call or email your representative, and tell them to vote YES on House File 976!
I picked out a few new things that haven’t been part of the budget before. Let your legislator know what you think about any (or all) of these so they’ll know how to vote if anyone tries to take them out of the bill. Here’s a link to the bill and don’t worry, I’ve included the page number next to each item because the bill is 190 pages long and if you spend all day reading through it then you’re…well, you’re me since that’s how I spent my weekend.
- Contrary to what opponents are telling your legislators, the sky will not fall if the state spends a mere $5,000 researching what a recycling refund for beverage containers program would look like if we decide to go that route in Minnesota. (53)
- Are you one of the many people who likes food? We need bees to grow food. This past week, opponents took issue with the fact that the budget includes money to help us get more bees to pollinate our crops. Either they don’t like food or they don’t see the connection between bees and an abundant food supply. Fortunately, the author of this bill does. (5, 80)
- If this bill is passed and signed into law, we’ll be on the way to better collection programs for carpet, paint and batteries. And I can finally stop telling you about this every week. (121-138)
- They say nothing in life is free. But in Minnesota, our groundwater is darn near close to it. Ranging from $3.50 to $6.00 per one million gallons, we’re not even bringing in enough to cover the state’s costs to manage it. (110-111)
- At first glance, it doesn’t look like the budget is funding aquatic invasive species with new money. But the money we’re getting from increasing the water use rates means we have more money in the budget. Which also means if the water use rates aren’t increased, some of the $12 million we’re getting from the general fund to combat AIS (including enforcement and new violation tracking software to nab repeat offenders) might have to go away. Another reason to keep the rate increases. (57, 65, 67)
- The budget also gives us an additional $8 million from two other accounts to fund AIS, including grants to local governments, water access inspection, management, and testing. (57, 59)
- New language in the bill says that someone can’t build a new well unless they tell the state how much water they’re going to use and what they’re going to use it for. They may also be required to monitor their water use to make sure they’re not draining us dry. Because apparently this wasn’t always the case. Scary. (112-116)
- The bill adds new criteria around issuing groundwater permits, namely that they can’t be issued unless the state decides that the new diversion or consumption won’t cause the area to run low on (or out of) water. Because apparently that also wasn’t always the case. Also scary. (109-110)
Coming up next week: Updates on the Senate budget as it moves to the floor. Also, what kind of Legacy are we leaving for our children and grandchildren?
What is the Line? It’s Conservation Minnesota’s light, 100% Minnesotan look at conservation happenings at the Capitol as seen by me, a lobbyist who actually doesn’t go outside very much. Please don’t confuse the Line with the always enjoyable musings of the other, taller half of Conservation Minnesota’s government affairs team, John Tuma. You can (and should!) check out his blog here.