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Minnesota Legislature

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

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Protecting Minnesota’s Environment Not on GOP List of Priorities

Wednesday, May 18, 2011
(SAINT PAUL) — Today the Minnesota House of Representatives prepared for a vote on the Republican majority’s conference committee report of the Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Omnibus Finance Bill. The bill would eliminate clean water protections, mothball state parks, and raid 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 says 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 percent 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 makes huge cuts in each area.” State Representative Rick Hansen (DFL – South St. Paul) says the bill has only gotten worse through the conference committee process. “I wasn’t sure it was possible, but this bill actually managed to become worse in the conference committee process,” Rep. Hansen said. “In their attempt to ensure that the wealthiest 2 percent of Minnesota don’t pay an extra penny to help the state, Republicans are closing state parks and doing irreparable harm to our natural resource programs.” The bill also 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 are blatantly ignoring a core responsibility to protect our natural resources and preserve them for future generations.” 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. -30-