SAINT PAUL, Minn. — Today, the Minnesota House of Representatives approved a new environment and natural resources budget. The legislation includes appropriations from the General Fund and the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund.
“Minnesotans know our state is a special place to live and want it to remain that way for years to come,” said Rep. Rick Hansen (DFL – South St. Paul), Chair of the House Environment and Natural Resources Finance Division. “They’re proud of our state’s natural beauty and abundant resources and expect us to protect our environment for future generations of Minnesotans.”
The new budget contains innovative, problem-solving solutions to address long-term environmental issues. A comprehensive plan to help stop the outbreak of chronic wasting disease (CWD) provides new funding for disease management and research to develop a better diagnostic test. It establishes an adopt-a-dumpster program that would help hunters dispose of carcasses safely. The plan includes requirements to reduce contact between captive and wild deer. It strengthens responses to outbreaks and prevents them from occurring in the first place through increased inspections and enforcement for deer farms. The budget also supports efforts to halt the spread of aquatic invasive species and helps communities address emerald ash borer issues.
Protecting the health and well-being of Minnesotans is an important part of the budget. A ban on toxic flame retardant chemicals will protect fire fighters and children. Other provisions fund lead and asthma screenings, research to identify contaminants that increase health risks, and efforts to reduce the use of industrial toxins.
The budget also protects and restores Minnesota’s natural resources. It includes strong support for pollinators by designating the threatened Rusty Patched Bumble Bee as the official state bee, conducting a native bee survey, and establishing a Lawns to Legumes program that assists homeowners who want to convert their lawns to pollinator-friendly habitat. Stronger protections and conservation efforts for several other species are also incorporated.
The budget also provides Minnesotans with greater access to the outdoors. Grants through No Child Left Inside would fund outdoor environmental, ecological, and natural resource-based programs for Minnesota youth, particularly those who wouldn’t otherwise have access to these opportunities. The budget also provides funding for parks, trails, and recreation areas throughout the state and improves access to these places for people with disabilities. It also increases diversity in environmental careers and establishes a new Minnesota Outdoor Recreation Office to encourage participation, work towards equitable and inclusive access, and support the outdoor recreation economy.
The House budget included greater protections and investments for Minnesota’s environment and natural resources. The Senate budget, however, cut environmental protections and funding. House DFLers were able to prevent cuts that would have significantly reduced staff and service at state parks and trails, weakened the response to CWD and aquatic invasive species, and threatened water quality.