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House, Senate strike bargain on environment, natural resources supplemental spending bill

New ways for dealing with waste ­— packaging, boat wrap, outdated electronics, sewer sludge and heat — are included in a conference committee agreement on the environment and natural resources supplemental budget bill.

Following Thursday’s conference committee approval, the report on HF3911 next goes to the House and Senate.

Included in the agreement is a new extended producer responsibility program for packaging waste, which would shift responsibility for waste disposal from consumers to producers. House and Senate versions of the bill had included provisions of the “Packaging Waste and Cost Reduction Act.”

Not included are provisions connected to agriculture, such as definitions of pesticide-treated seeds and a requirement that large dairy operations get environmental impact statements.

Committee co-chair and bill sponsor Rep. Rick Hansen (DFL-South St. Paul) said the agreement reflects many modifications and compromises. Moreover, he pointed out an exception to the committee target for future budgets, which will allow $1 million per year for eight years to update the state’s public water inventory map.

Sen. Foung Hawj (DFL-St. Paul), the Senate sponsor, likened the proposed legislation to a fully laden ship, delicately balanced as it is steered to shore.


The bill would send $23.2 million to the Department of Natural Resources, $12.3 million to the Pollution Control Agency and $5.5 million to the Metropolitan Council. Much of the General Fund spending would be used to expand enforcement capacity at the PCA and DNR.

About $12 million from a variety of sources would go to plant trees as the state deals with the aftermath of severe weather and emerald ash borer infestations.

Other appropriations include:

  • $2.4 million to help build a regulatory framework for gas production, sought following discovery of an unusually large pure helium reserve in northern Minnesota;
  • $1.5 million to the all-terrain vehicle grant-in-aid program;
  • $1.3 million to make improvements to the International Wolf Center in Ely;
  • $593,000 to provide for composting grants at apartment buildings; and
  • $550,000 to clean up a tax-forfeited property in Olmsted County where tires and other trash have been dumped.

[MORE: View the spreadsheet]


Among policy provisions in the agreement are those that would:

  • increase penalties for polluters and those who violate buffer zone requirements;
  • set goals to reduce the state’s use of road salt and nitrogen fertilizer;
  • set a $250 penalty for running a snowmobile without a working muffler;
  • prohibit using nitrogen fertilizer on state lands in the Karst region in the fall and retire land that doesn’t feed animals from cooperative agreements; and
  • increase the registration fee on off-road motorcycles from $30 to $45. 

[MORE: View the final policy agreement]

Not included in the final agreement are provisions that would modify shotgun zones, require trappers get permission to trap on private land, prohibit planting corn on state land, and separate proceeds from habitat license plates into different funds.

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