Good news! The House passed two bills that protect children from toxic chemicals. We’re expecting the Senate to vote on them any day, then they’ll be off to Governor Dayton for his signature. On this website you can see how your representative voted. And be sure to let your Senator know what you think so they’re voting for you and your family!
It all comes down to…10 people + you
The environment budgets have passed both the House and Senate, and because they’re different, a small group of 5 Representatives and 5 Senators have been appointed to meet and work out the differences. They are: Sen. David Tomassoni (co-chair), Rep. Jean Wagenius (co-chair), Sen. Tom Saxhaug, Rep. Rick Hansen, Sen. Jim Metzen, Rep. Jeanne Poppe, Sen. Dan Sparks, Rep. David Dill, Sen. Torrey Westrom, and Rep. Andrew Falk.
If you see your legislator’s name on this list, keep reading. If you don’t see your legislator’s name on this list…keep reading! Although the conferee list is small, they make decisions based on what they’re hearing from the rest of their members. Here are a couple of similarities between the bills, and a few key differences.
BOTH bills allow for the state to study what a recycling refund program for beverage containers would look like if we decided to have one in Minnesota. Other states, like Iowa, already have this type of collection mode. Since we’re way cooler than Iowa, we wouldn’t necessarily just do it the way they do it, we’d want to come up with our own thing.
The HOUSE bill contains new revenue in the form of water rate and permit fee increases. Most homeowners will see an added cost of 50 cents to $4.00 a year for water use. Lake shore property owners had their concerns addressed when the House agreed to place a cap on how much they’d be charged for removing plant vegetation on their shorelands. The fees are now reasonable, and the House uses this money to fund groundwater management and grants to lake associations and local governments to deal with aquatic invasive species (AIS). In fact, the HOUSE bill directs a lot more money towards dealing with AIS. A LOT more.
The SENATE bill offers stronger protection from frac sand mining, including additional steps in the permitting process for mines over a certain size, new rules they’ll have to follow, and allowing communities to extend a moratorium if they have one in place.
The HOUSE bill gets us on the way to better collection of discarded carpet, batteries and paint. The SENATE bill deals only with paint, but the committee could certainly add the other two products.
New language in the HOUSE 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. Those seem like pretty reasonable asks. The HOUSE bill also 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.
So what can you do? Our goal is obviously to end up with the strongest bill possible. Call or email your legislator and share your views. Simple messages such as, “Please tell the conference committee that the House bill covers carpet, paint and battery collection programs, and they should make sure that’s in the bill,” or, “The Senate offers better protections from the risks of frac sand mining. Please make sure that’s covered in the bill,” are easy for them to pass on.
If you have priorities that aren’t mentioned here, feel free to email me. I can either respond, or if I get multiple requests for the same information, put out another edition of the Line. Thanks so much!
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.