Projects ranging from fighting rock slime, to using lichens as air-quality monitors, to building new trails would get funding, under a bill approved by a House panel.
Sponsored by Rep. Rick Hansen (DFL-South St. Paul), HF172 was approved, as amended, by the House Environment and Natural Resources Finance and Policy Committee Tuesday. The bill would authorize funding of 85 projects across the state using about $80 million from the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund.
Moneys for the trust fund come from state lottery proceeds and can be used to conserve, protect and enhance the state’s natural resources. Distributions are based on annual recommendations from the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources.
Unlike the past few years, the commission reached a supermajority to make a formal recommendation to the Legislature.
Hansen called the recommendation bipartisan and bicameral.
“As with any package, not everything everyone could agree on, but they could agree it’s a good package,” he said.
The recommendations include:
Besides the funding recommendations, the bill would specify some criteria on capital projects, such as trails, campgrounds or buildings. Among them is that projects must continue with their intended purpose for at least 25 years, follow sustainable building guidelines, have a match, and full funding must be identified before trust money is distributed.
But Rep. Josh Heintzeman (R-Nisswa) wondered if putting criteria in statute would mean a big loss in flexibility.
“We don’t want communities missing out because of more bureaucracy,” he said.