Out of Line
If you thought 2013 might be the year the Legislature put Minnesota children ahead of chemical companies, you’ll be disappointed to hear that the Senate Commerce Committee killed the Toxic Free Kids Act. The bill required manufacturers that sell children’s products containing certain high priority chemicals to report which chemicals are in which products, so that parents don’t have to guess or become professional chemists to figure it out themselves. It also said that those manufacturers need to come up with a plan for phasing out those chemicals by a certain date.
We tried to compromise by stripping out the time line for phasing out and eventually banning the chemicals, but industry lobbyists still objected, testifying that it would be too burdensome to provide Minnesota parents with information about the safety of their products. Unfortunately, that’s the end of the line for the bill this year. With your help, we can come back in 2014 with a new plan and new momentum. Stay tuned for ways you can help us protect Minnesota’s children from unsafe and unhealthy products. In the meantime, head over to Check My Legislator to see if your Senator serves on the committee and, if so, how he or she voted.
On The Line This Week
Now for the good news…
Two bills are still on the move that ban two chemicals in products our kids use everyday. HF 459 (Atkins) bans Bisphenol A in children’s food packaging. BPA is linked to neurological and developmental problems in children. HF 458 (Persell) bans formaldehyde in children’s soap and shampoo. When it comes into contact with skin, formaldehyde can cause respiratory problems such as asthma in kids. They’re up in the House Commerce and Consumer Protection Policy and Finance Committee.
Anything dirty or dingy or dusty
While Oscar the Grouch might love trash, the rest of us need to find better ways of keeping it out of landfills and away from polluting our water. HF 865 (Sundin) takes a big step towards putting collection and recycling plans in place for batteries, paint and mattresses. It’s up in the House Judiciary Finance and Policy Committee.
Making a little go a long way
How much are our lakes and rivers worth to us? That’s the question we’re asking as we face the sad fact that the rapid spread of aquatic invasive species is far out pacing the amount of money we’ve set aside to stop the infestation and get them out of water they’re already in. One solution is to have the Department of Natural Resources educate watercraft owners (including nonresidents who bring their boats here for vacation) about the problem and ways they can help stop the spread, and charge an annual fee, based on the size of the watercraft, for certification that they’ve completed the short online course. It raises around $7 million/year and it’s dedicated only to helping us solve this problem. HF 1442 (Hansen) is up in the House Environment and Natural Resources Policy Committee and SF 1442 (Hoffman) is in the Senate Environment and Energy Committee.
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.