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House approves $46 million LCCMR bill

The House voted 106-26 Monday to repass HF390*/SF698, which would appropriate more than $46 million to protect, conserve, preserve and enhance the state’s natural resources.

The bill would allocate money based on recommendations made by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources for expenditures from the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund. That fund was established through a constitutional amendment approved by voters in 1988 to direct proceeds from the state lottery and investment income to benefit natural resources.

When it was originally passed by the House, HF390 did not include all of the recommendations made by the LCCMR. Two were removed during the committee process. One was a $1 million study that would have been conducted by the Legislative Energy Commission to research and analyze the state’s energy policies and evaluate their impact on the state’s environmental and economic future. The other was a habitat study of turtle populations in urban lakes.

Rep. Paul Torkelson (R-Hanska), the bill’s sponsor, said the turtle study is now back in the bill after a conference committee meeting early Monday morning. He also said the $1 million that would have been used for the LEC study had been repurposed for an “Emerging Issues” account that could be used by the LCCMR to react to future issues.

Pollinator provision removed

A provision that would have required land acquired, restored or enhanced with appropriations from the fund not be planted or treated with a product that contains pollinator lethal insecticide, was removed by the conference committee.

Torkelson said the provision had not enjoyed “universal support on the floor” when it was added as an amendment during debate on the original version of the bill and it was removed on a party line vote — Republican members voting against it — during the conference committee meeting.

Rep. Jennifer Schultz (DFL-Duluth), sponsor of the amendment that added the pollinator language, said she was disappointed in the conferees for not supporting the position of the House.

Some of the largest appropriations in HF390*/SF698 include:

  • $14.19 million to acquire land for habitat and recreation — more than half of this money would go to the Department of Natural Resources to buy land throughout the state that to help preserve high-quality native plant communities or native prairies, among other things;
  • $12.93 million to collect data and information about the state’s natural resources — some of the money would be used to fund the production of county geologic atlases that define aquifer boundaries and how they connect to surface waters. Other funding would go to the continuation of a biological survey meant to provide the foundational information needed to conserve biological diversity;
  • $6.07 million to fight aquatic and terrestrial invasive species — most of this money ($5 million) would go to the University of Minnesota’s Invasive Terrestrial Plants and Pests Center to research methods to prevent or minimize these threats to the state’s resources;
  • $4.65 million to protect, restore and enhance state land, water and habitat — this money would be distributed among a number of projects including the BWSR grants for private lands in conservation program, a pilot program to improve local forests in communities around the state and money for other local projects;
  • $3.06 million to understand water scarcity threats and values to improve management; and
  • $2.27 million to improve air quality, slow climate change and spur renewable energy production — the University of Minnesota would receive $1 million for the Morris West Central Research and Outreach Center and Twin Cities campus to develop new technologies to produce ammonia for fertilizer in a renewable and sustainable manner.



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