A bill banning a hazardous dry-cleaning solvent and prioritizing Minnesota dry cleaners for access to an industry-funded state account for environmental cleanup projects has been passed.
It now goes to the Senate, where Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen (R-Alexandra) is the sponsor.
Minnesota requires dry cleaners to collectively pay $650,000 to the state each year to cover cleanup projects. But under existing law, they have the same chance of receiving funding as property owners who lease to dry cleaners.
Those property owners aren't required to pay into the fund.
With fewer dry cleaners in operation than when the law was passed in 1995, available funds have dwindled. Meanwhile, property owners have continued requesting tens of thousands of dollars for cleanup projects.
The bill would appropriate $213,000 from the Dry Cleaner Fund to pay dry cleaner owners and operators for cleanup projects. It would also use $355,000 in unspent funds from another Pollution Control Agency account for a cost-share program to reimburse dry cleaners for the costs of transitioning away from perchloroethylene.
In January, the president of the Minnesota Dry Cleaners Association said most cleaners who still use perchloroethylene support the ban, provided they have financial help to switch equipment.
Rep. Josh Heintzeman (R-Nisswa) said the bill is a step in the right direction and dry cleaners need more support.