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Omnibus environment bill aims to ‘correct past wrongs, prepare for future,’ chair says

DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen testifies before the House Environment and Natural Resources Finance and Policy Committee March 28 in favor of HF2310, the committee’s omnibus budget bill. (Photo by Catherine Davis)
DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen testifies before the House Environment and Natural Resources Finance and Policy Committee March 28 in favor of HF2310, the committee’s omnibus budget bill. (Photo by Catherine Davis)

Comprehensive is the word Rep. Rick Hansen (DFL-South St. Paul) used to describe the omnibus environment and natural resources finance bill.

Unveiled Tuesday with about $1 billion in spending, the bill includes provisions that aim to prepare the state for the effects from climate change, protect pollinators, fight aquatic invasive species, manage the spread of Emerald Ash Borer, guard against chronic wasting disease, and work on ways to get PFAS out of the environment.

Some of the more controversial provisions would put new regulations on pesticide treated seeds and Cervidae farms.

“It’s a proposal that corrects past wrongs, recognizes the present and prepares for the future,” Hansen said, adding the bill is about problem-solving. “There are topics here we have discussed for many years that it provides solution for.”

House Environment and Natural Resources Finance and Policy Committee 3/28/23

The House Environment and Natural Resources Finance and Policy Committee went through the delete-all amendment to HF2310 Tuesday. The committee plans to mark-up and take action on the proposal Wednesday.

The bill contains 2024-25 General Fund appropriations for the Department of Natural Resources ($472.84 million), Pollution Control Agency ($233 million) and Board of Water and Soil Resources ($98.66 million), as well as other organizations.

[MORE: See the detailed spreadsheet]

Much of the DNR appropriation would be to maintain current levels of service and provide funding for the department to improve its programs and properties.

The funding would include:

  • $157.46 million for forest management;
  • $100 million for parks and trails;
  • $51.67 million for ecological and water resources; and
  • $24.5 million for fish and wildlife.

There would also be funding for the Lawns to Legumes program, zero-waste programs, and to develop protocols around microplastics.

There would be $18.7 million to address the cumulative effects of siting polluters in environmental justice areas – those that are historically poorer and with larger non-white populations.

The bill would also authorize spending $79.3 million on about 85 projects from proceeds of the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund. A separate bill for the projects, such as studying if lichens could be air quality monitors, extending trails, renewing access to a North Shore vista and monitoring old growth forests has already been approved by the committee and sent to the House Floor.

[MORE: See the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund spreadsheet]

Among the scores of policy provisions included in the bill are those that would:

  • transfer ownership of the Upper Sioux Agency State Park near Granite Falls to the Upper Sioux Community;
  • reestablish an PCA Citizens Board with authority to weigh in on the permitting process;
  • allow municipalities to prohibit the use of pesticides that harm pollinators;
  • require an inventory of manure storage areas and require feedlot owners show they can pay for closure requirements;
  • tighten requirements for bags and food packaging marked biodegradable;
  • establish Lowland Conifer Carbon Reserve within some state forests that could put timber and peat harvesting restrictions;
  • allow fines up to $100 for dumping trash such as cigarette butts and offal on frozen lakes; and
  • allow the PCA to act on odor complaints.

Throughout the bill are provisions that would regulate the use of PFAs — perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl chemicals — called forever chemicals because they don’t break down and may affect human health. Provisions could require disclosures and ban their intentional use in many products such as ski wax, children’s products, and firefighting foam.

Among the notable Pollution Control Agency appropriations are:

  • $45 million for Governor’s Select Committee on Recycling and the Environment block grants;
  • $35 million to modernize Pollution Control Agency data systems;
  • $25 million for grants to reimburse local public water supply operators’ efforts to address PFAs; and
  • $18.7 million to implement an environmental justice, cumulative impact analysis.

Proposed fee increases

The bill would also increase fees for state park permits and various licenses. DNR officials have sought the increase for several years to keep pace with increasing costs.  

Potential increases include an annual state park permit fee would rise from $35 to $45, and a one-day permit from $7 to $10; lifetime angling fees for adult residents would jump from $574 to $689; and one-day fishing licenses for adults would increase from $12 to $15.


What's in the bill?

The following are selected bills that have been incorporated in part or in whole into the omnibus environment and natural resources finance bill:

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