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Conferees nearly home on environment, natural resources agreement

They weren’t completely done at the traditional weekend knock-off time of 5 p.m. Friday, but members of the environment, natural resources, climate and energy conference committee completed much of their work with agreement on a budget for environment and natural resources.

Provisions regarding climate and energy are still to come.

Sponsored by Rep. Rick Hansen (DFL-South St. Paul) and Sen. Foung Hawj (DFL-St. Paul), HF2310 would appropriate $1 billion from the General Fund during the upcoming biennium for the state’s environment and natural resources – an increase of $667 million. General Fund spending would be $499.7 million for the Department of Natural Resources, $279.6 million for the Pollution Control Agency and $120 million for the Board of Water and Soil Resources.

The agreement would increase triannual boat registration fees but would not change fees for state parks or fishing licenses.

“I think this is strong policy and a strong spreadsheet that everyone on this committee should be proud to vote for,” said Rep. Sydney Jordan (DFL-Mpls).

[MORE: View the spreadsheet]

The DNR’s Get Out MORE program to modernize outdoor recreation experiences would receive $112.8 million, which includes $35 million targeted to updating boating access and $35 million to improve fish hatcheries.

Other new spending would include:

  • $100 million for resilient communities grants and technical assistance;
  • $25.8 million for waste prevention and reduction grants;
  • $19.7 million more to the Metropolitan Council, primarily for parks and trails;
  • $15.2 million more to the ReLeaf Program for community forests;
  • $7.3 million more to the Science Museum;
  • $1 million to the University of Minnesota to research and implement plans to fight aquatic invasive species.

Policy provisions

The committee adopted scores of policy provisions aimed at reducing boating deaths, curbing the spread of chronic wasting disease, limiting harmful chemicals in the environment, protecting native wildlife and improving health of communities historically overburdened by pollutants.

Conferees adopted provisions that would:

  • reduce the supermajority required for the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources to make a formal recommendation on environmental trust fund spending;
  • have the Pollution Control Agency address odor complaints in the metropolitan area;
  • bar new permits for farming white-tail deer;
  • ensure at least 40% of large PCA settlements would go to the health board in the affected community;
  • transfer the Upper Sioux Agency State Park to the Upper Sioux Community;
  • phase in boating permits and safety education for adults; and
  • prohibit PFAS in household products such as cookware, cosmetics, children’s products, ski wax and furniture starting in 2025.

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