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Legislative Update – January 31, 2023

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Legislative Update – January 31, 2023

Dear Neighbors,

I am pleased to share that last week I was reappointed to two commissions I served on last session: the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Natural Resources (LCCMR), and the Legislative Audit Commission (LAC). These bipartisan, bicameral commissions, provide the legislature with important oversight and recommendations that guide our future work. The LAC selects topics for the Office of the Legislative Auditor to review—increasing accountability and oversight into government programs. The LCCMR makes recommendations on funding from the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund—helping to maintain and enhance our natural resources. 

Highways for Habitats

Last Thursday, I presented my bill, Highways for Habitat, which would utilize the tens of thousands of acres of ditches along state highways for pollinator and wildlife habitats. This program would use practices that protect nesting birds and avoid the use of lethal insecticides harmful to pollinators. You can watch the recording and read more in this article.

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My bill would also promote “living snow fences” along state highways. Living snow fences act as a buffer to blowing snow; using vegetation along highways to decrease snow drift and increase public safety. You can watch a local news report on the benefits of living snow fences here.

Environment Committee Works to Limit Pollution.

With our current budget surplus, we can work to repay old debts and prepare for the future. That’s why the Environment Committee, which I chair, heard Rep. Richardson’s bill to refill the Metropolitan Landfill Contingency Action Trust (MLCAT) account. This account was raided in 2004 and was never repaid. As a result, we currently have less money to deal with the environmental impacts of landfills like those in Dakota County. Repaying this money is an important step toward protecting our environment and public health.

The best clean-up strategy is to prevent pollution from occurring in the first place. That is why our committee is hearing many bills to prohibit pollution before it occurs—including “forever chemicals” like PFAS. Study after study has shown these chemicals to be linked to cancer and other health issues as well as contamination in groundwater and local wells. No one wants these forever chemicals in their bodies, and it is far past time to take action to ban PFAS.

On Tuesday, the committee passed a bill to prohibit the use of these chemicals in firefighting foam and a bill to ban their use in children’s products. We also heard a bill that requires businesses to notify the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency when they intentionally add PFAS to products. Similar bills were rejected by the Senate Republicans in last year’s negotiations, but with a DFL trifecta, we can finally take these steps to protect Minnesotans from these toxic chemicals. You can watch a recording of the hearing on the Environment committee webpage.

Pollinator Research Funding

Did you know that Minnesota is home to over 500 different species of bees? Last Thursday, I presented my bill to the Agriculture Committee to provide funding to the University of Minnesota for pollinator habitat research. I invited researchers from the University’s Bee Lab to present on the importance of promoting the conservation and health of our native bee species and the community outreach work they do. I was also joined by Brian Buhr, the Dean of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resources Science, to present my bill to provide funding to research Minnesota’s heritage crops.

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Stay in Touch 

Please continue to share your questions, ideas, and feedback throughout the legislative session. You can reach me by email at or by phone at 651-296-6828. You can contact my Legislative Assistant Sam O'Neill at 651-296-3305 or via email at


Rick Hansen
State Representative