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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Jean Wagenius (DFL)

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House Energy and Climate Division Approves Budget Bill

Friday, April 05, 2019

SAINT PAUL, Minn.— Yesterday the Minnesota House Energy and Climate Finance and Policy Division, chaired by Rep. Jean Wagenius (DFL – Minneapolis), approved an omnibus budget bill. The finance bill (HF 1986) passed yesterday and the omnibus policy bill (HF 1833) that the committee approved last week include practical initiatives that will help Minnesotans adapt to the changes that are coming due to climate change and reduce carbon dioxide emissions to prevent further consequences.

“Minnesotans know climate change is a threat to our state,” said Rep. Wagenius. “We’re already experiencing profound impacts, and scientists have told us that we need to sharply reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the next dozen years to head off the most catastrophic consequences. This legislation is our first step in ensuring we give young Minnesotans the future they want and we want for them.”

Transitioning to 100 percent carbon-free energy by 2050 is part of the legislation. The bills would reduce the state’s dependence on fossil fuels and encourage the use of clean energy alternatives while ensuring that electricity is reliable and affordable during and after the transition. The bills also provide new opportunities for utility customers to conserve energy and switch from fossil fuels to cleaner electricity.

A new Solar for Schools program would provide grants for installing solar energy systems on school buildings. Solar energy would save school districts money and provide learning opportunities for students and community members. Similar initiatives would help the University of Minnesota and state colleges transition to clean energy.

Additional provisions in this bill would support electric transportation, including grants for public charging stations for electric cars and to the Metropolitan Council for help in purchasing electric buses.

“What has been most impressive about our hearings are the Minnesotans who have come forward with ‘I want to help’ solutions,” said Rep. Wagenius. “For example, architects testified that they can design more energy efficient buildings, and so a stretch building code is one of the provisions included in the bills. There are similar provisions throughout the bills.”

A spreadsheet of the omnibus finance bill’s contents is available here.