Skip to main content Skip to office menu Skip to footer
Minnesota Legislature

Legislators hear from MPCA as environment conferees begin work

Rep. Rick Hansen, left, and Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen listen to member introductions May 7 at the first conference committee meeting on the omnibus environment and natural resources finance bill. Photo by Andrew VonBank

The devil is in the details as the House and Senate undertake reconciling their views on how to fund the state’s environment and natural resource agencies for the 2020-21 biennium.

The two legislative bodies bring a $118 million difference in direct appropriations to the table as a conference committee began Tuesday to seek agreement on their versions of HF2209, the omnibus environment and natural resources finance bill.

Conference committee co-chairs Rep. Rick Hansen (DFL-South St. Paul) and Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen (R-Alexandria) need to lead the wading through 164 earmarked expenditures distinct to each body’s version of the bill: 68 found only in the House version and 96 found only in the Senate version.

The committee kicked of the process of crafting a bill from these disparate parts Tuesday with a review of accounting differences and testimony from Pollution Control Agency Commissioner Laura Bishop.

The conference committee on the omnibus environment and natural resources finance bill listen to a side-by-side walkthrough May 7. Photo by Andrew VonBank

She said the Senate version of the bill would reduce General Fund dollars by 85 percent and tie agency functions and programming more closely to the state’s Environmental Fund.

“This is not good public policy and it is not what is best for Minnesota,” Bishop stated.

Pushing the agency to fund more of its efforts with money from enforcement and permits would have deleterious impacts on the environment and economy, she warned.

Bishop made a plea for funding of priority cleanup projects such as of the St. Louis River Area of Concern and the Freeway Landfill and Dump, as well as funding for legal expenses incurred by the agency defending its work in court.

[MOREView a spreadsheet comparing versions of the bill]

Gov. Tim Walz’s proposed budget, the touchstone for comparing the two versions, asked for an additional $58 million in direct appropriations for environment and natural resource spending, with the bulk going into the budgets of the PCA and DNR. His proposed gas tax would generate $15.8 million toward that increase.

The House version of the bill would go further, providing an increase of $82.2 million and incorporate the proposed gas tax funding.

The Senate version would cut $35.86 million from direct appropriation base funding and does not include the proposed gas tax funding. It would also introduce a rigorous shift in funding of the Pollution Control Agency.


Related Articles

Priority Dailies

State Fair poll shows steady support for gun sale background checks, recreational marijuana
Support for criminal background checks on all gun sales and the legalization of marijuana for recreational use appears to have remained steady among Minnesotans during the past 12 months.
Governor signs special session budget bills into law
One week after a marathon special session that saw lawmakers pass most of the major budget bills needed to fund the state’s government over the next two years, Gov. Tim Walz signed the legislation into law.
After sunrise, the sun sets on 2019 special session
It took a grueling special session that stretched past sunrise, but Minnesota lawmakers completed their work early Saturday morning on passing a new two-year state budget.
House DFL outlines $47.8 billion 2020-21 spending proposal
The plan, dubbed the “Minnesota Values Budget,” would increase spending by $416.9 million over the 2020-21 biennium’s projected base budget.
Budget forecast: Projected surplus drops by almost $500 million, still tops $1 billion
The state has a $1.05 billion projected budget surplus for the upcoming biennium, Minnesota Management and Budget officials announced Thursday.
Walz budget would raise gas tax, emphasize education, health care
Education, health care and community prosperity are key targets for funding in the 2020-21 biennial budget proposed by Gov. Tim Walz.
Committee deadlines for 2019 unveiled
Legislators and the public officially know the timeline for getting bills through the committee process.

Minnesota House on Twitter