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Minnesota Legislature

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

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House GOP Cuts Funding for Clean Water & Flood Preparation

Tuesday, March 29, 2011
(SAINT PAUL) — Today the Minnesota House of Representatives passed HF 1010, a bill that eliminates clean water protections, impacts flood preparation and prevention, and raids the lottery trust fund. State Representative Jean Wagenius (DFL – Minneapolis), the DFL environment lead on the House Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Policy and Finance says that this bill is a dramatic reversal of Minnesota’s environmental policy. “This bill said no to our state’s long tradition of protecting our natural resources that all Minnesotans use and enjoy. This bill makes the wrong choices and walks back decades of protections for clean water," said Wagenius. “Just three years ago 56% of Minnesotans voted to increase the sales tax because they wanted greater protection for their drinking water, for our lakes, rivers and streams, for our wetlands, forests and other habitat. This budget targets huge cuts for each of these items.” State Representative Rick Hansen (DFL – South St. Paul) says the bill eliminates basic protections for our water. HF 1010 eliminates Clean Water Partnership grants, septic system work, and water quality protections. “Water quality protection is a basic task of government,” Rep. Hansen said. “Republicans have voted to ignore a core responsibility to protect our natural resources and preserve them for future generations.” In addition, the bill includes drastic reductions to flood-related activities, including assistance to local communities to comply with FEMA standards in order to receive flood insurance. Without this assistance, local governments may fail to meet FEMA deadlines, and could lead to a suspension of the flood insurance program. “In a time when our communities are preparing to deal with potentially record flooding, Republicans are making it nearly impossible to participate in federal disaster relief,” Rep. Hansen said. “When people are dealing with a disaster, and need their government the most, Republicans voted to turn their backs on them.” Rep. Wagenius also notes that the bill raids the lottery dollars to backfill Republican cuts. “This raid breaks the trust with Minnesotans who voted to dedicate lottery dollars to natural resources with the understanding that the new money would not be used as a substitute for traditional sources of funding,” said Wagenius.