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Invasive species, diseases prioritized in omnibus environment and natural resources bill

Minnesota could spend millions of dollars in the next biennium to slow the spread of invasive species and implement new restrictions on deer and elk farms to protect the state's deer herd from chronic wasting disease.

The provisions are among dozens included in the omnibus environment and natural resources bill, given its first hearing Tuesday by the House Environment and Natural Resources Finance and Policy Committee.

Nonpartisan staff detailed the delete-all amendment to HF1076, sponsored by Rep. Rick Hansen (DFL-South St. Paul). The committee plans to act on the bill Thursday.

Its companion, SF959, is sponsored by Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen (R-Alexandria) and awaits action by the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Finance Committee.

DFLers say the bill would effectively deal with invasive species and CWD, help pollinators, and address climate change and air and water pollution.

"This bill does a wonderful job of centering the people, and the land, and the water and the wildlife of Minnesota," said Rep. Kelly Morrison (DFL-Deephaven).

The bill would allocate $1.7 billion to state programs, departments and agencies in the next biennium, including about $960 million to the Department of Natural Resources. About $373.3 million of the spending would come from the General Fund.

 [MORE: View the spreadsheet]

Republicans say the bill is too broad and would hurt their constituents.

It would require deer and elk farms to have two layers of perimeter fencing, a move that could limit escapes but has been opposed by industry groups. Farmed deer have been a prominent source of CWD, which is always fatal and can survive for years in the environment, and advocates say the extra layer of fencing could stop the spread.

The bill would also ban the use of a group of "forever" chemicals called perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, in food packaging and create new water-quality standards to regulate them.

Additionally, it would require the Pollution Control Agency to consider cumulative pollution levels in an "environmental justice area" before issuing permits and would allow cities to ban certain pesticides.

Other notable provisions would:

  • create carbon-sequestration goals;
  • void the state's remaining commercial turtle harvesting licenses;
  • increase a triennial fee charged to boat owners for invasive species management;
  • require the PCA to hold public hearings before finalizing agreements with facilities in which the agency is seeking more than $25,000;
  • dedicate funds raised from the sale of critical habitat license plates to specific uses, depending on which animal a plate features; and
  • require counties with at least one soil and water conservation district to impose an additional fee of $25 per transaction on the recording of mortgage and deed registrations to fund the districts.

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What's in the bill?

The following are selected bills that have been incorporated in part or in whole into the omnibus environment and natural resources omnibus bill:


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