We had a great turnout of over 400 people as Dakota County’s Spring Lake Park Reserve welcomed a herd of bison to the park! This project was funded through my committee using the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund (ENRTF), allowing Dakota County Parks to bring a herd of a dozen bison to our area—which used to be full of roaming bison herds before the area was colonized. You can read more in this Fox 9 news report: Bison herd introduced at Dakota County park.
On Thursday, I co-chaired a meeting of the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR). The LCCMR is made up of citizens and legislators that make recommendations on how to spend the money dedicated to the ENRTF—the fund that made our bison reintroduction project possible! We are evaluating project requests from around the state that will preserve and protect our environment and natural resources, you can learn more here.
Public Safety Investments
This session’s Public Safety and Judiciary budget takes a holistic approach to making our communities safer. Support for law enforcement and victims is central to the bill, carrying significant investments for both. The legislation includes law enforcement priorities with a substantial investment in officer recruitment. Victims and survivors will receive the assistance they need through advocacy programs, housing support, and state-paid sexual assault exams. It also includes two common-sense gun violence prevention measures: red flag laws and universal background checks.
Our tax bill also included targeted investments in public safety—giving direct aid to cities to help them better fulfil their mission. For our district, Cottage Grove will receive $1.73 million, Inver Grove Heights will receive $1.56 million, South St. Paul will receive $907,807, Saint Paul Park will receive $240,998, and Newport will receive $170,228 for a total of over $4.6 million in our district to support local law enforcement. In addition to all that, Dakota County is receiving an additional 5.18 million and Washington County will receive 3.3 million as well.
Capitol Report – Environment Budget
Last week I sat down with the Minnesota Senate's Capitol Report to discuss our historic investments in the Environment and Natural Resources this session. We talked about the bill’s focus on addressing threats to our environment like PFAS chemicals, chronic wasting disease, invasive carp and more. The segment will air on TPT - Twin Cities PBS Channel 2.3 on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. and on Channel 2.2 Sundays at noon and 6 p.m. as well on other statewide affiliates. You can also watch the video here.
I hope I will be able to see you at this year’s Cottage Grove Strawberry Fest, which will be taking place from June 15th to June 18th! You can find more information about this event at https://www.cottagegrovestrawberryfest.com/.
The South St. Paul Garden Club will be hosting a local garden tour on Sunday, July 9th from 11am-6pm with gardens in SSP, IGH, Eagan and Mendota Heights. You can find more information on their Facebook Page.
I also wanted to highlight an upcoming tree planting event on Saturday, June 10th from 10am-1pm at Kaposia Park (1028 Wilde Ave). You can find more information on the SSP Parks and Recreation Facebook Page.
Tree Planting Provision in Environment Bill
Here are some of our tree-planting provisions that passed in this year’s budget bill. The spread of emerald ash borer (EAB) is threatening communities large and small who often don’t have the necessary resources to dispose of dead trees and plant new ones. This year’s budget begins to fill in those gaps and ensure we keep planting new trees!
$1,000,000 for Met. Council to provide grants to metropolitan parks and trails implementing agencies to remove hazardous trees and replace ash trees with more diverse, climate-adapted species within the metropolitan regional park system.
$16,562,000 to preserve existing biomass energy infrastructure for purposes of local and regional emerald ash borer response efforts.
$3,000,000 to facilitate disposal of wood that is infested by the emerald ash borer.
$400,000 in fiscal year 2024 and $400,000 in fiscal year 2025 to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to accelerate tree seed collection to support a growing demand for tree planting on public and private lands.
$7,998,000 in fiscal year 2024 and $7,998,000 in fiscal year 2025 for grants under the Minnesota ReLeaf program.
$1,500,000 in fiscal year 2024 and $1,500,000 in fiscal year 2025 to the DNR for forest stand improvement and to meet certain statutory reforestation requirements.
$2,086,000 in fiscal year 2024 and $2,086,000 in fiscal year 2025 to the DNR to support forest management, cost-share assistance, and inventory on private woodlands.
$500,000 for the University of Minnesota to conduct a multidisciplinary research study of state managed lowland conifer stands to be submitted to the legislature by January 15, 2027.
We also provided funding through the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund to:
Preserve and increase tree canopy through AmeriCorps members deployed to local agencies and nonprofit organizations.
Conduct outreach to private forest landowners, develop site restoration plans, and connect landowners with restoration assistance to encourage private forest restoration and improve the ecological health through Sugarloaf: The North Shore Stewardship Association.
Funding for the U of M to collaborate with The Nature Conservancy and Minnesota Extension to expand networks of seed collectors and tree growers and to research tree planting strategies to accelerate reforestation for carbon sequestration, wildlife habitat, and watershed resilience.
Stay in Touch
Please continue to share your questions, ideas, and feedback throughout the legislative session. You can reach me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 651-296-6828. You can contact my legislative assistant Sam O'Neill at 651-296-3305 or via email at email@example.com.