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Environment conference committee takes small step forward, OKs policy agreements

With time running short and still major hurdles to overcome, the conference committee trying to sort out the differences in the environment and natural resources supplemental finance and policy bills approved several smaller policy agreements Tuesday.

The conference committee, led by Rep. Rick Hansen (DFL-South St. Paul) and Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen (R-Alexandria), approved an agreement that includes some provisions and language from HF4492/SF4062*.

House policies that were approved include a revision of the state’s aquatic invasive species plan and increases to per diem for the Minnesota Zoological Board, Minnesota Forest Resources Council, Board of Water and Soil Resources, Environmental Quality Board and the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources.

Senate policies approved include facilitation of transfer by current owners of off-highway motorcycles, snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles, requirements for persons in ground blinds to wear blaze orange or pink and the scaring of deer and elk causing damage to agricultural crops.

The committee resolved differences to three other items by adopting the Senate language and also agreed to drop four provisions, two from each version, in the agreement.

There is a $241.2 million difference in funding in the two versions of the bill. The committee is waiting for more direction from leadership to work on funding proposals.

“We are waiting for funding parameters that we could work on in the conference committee,” Hansen said. “There are also some policy items, plus policy items with funding.”

Previously, the committee unanimously approved an Ingebrigtsen motion to adopt all provisions that are identical in the policy sections of the two bills, and to accept the House language on those that are similar.

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