AITKIN – Rep. Dale Lueck, R-Aitkin, said he is disappointed yet retained a measure of encouragement following Gov. Mark Dayton’s veto of a second bill (H.F. 3422) designed to improve the wild rice sulfate standard Wednesday.
This past session, Lueck moved two bills through the Legislature to the governor’s desk in an effort to update an outdated 45-year-old water quality sulfate standard that has never been implemented.
“I’m disappointed by the governor’s second veto of a bill that would have put a plan in place to correct a defunct standard and move forward on better protecting wild rice,” Lueck said. “The Legislature and the governor’s office were able to narrow the gap on how to proceed, but in the end the governor was unable to sign this most recent bill.
“While H.F. 3422 won’t become law, I am encouraged that on the same day of his veto the governor issued an executive order establishing a Governor’s Task Force on Wild Rice that did include a few elements of the bill. There is agreement that this 45-year-old problem must be resolved. Like my approach, at least the executive order brings experts including municipalities, main street businesses and heavy industry, tribal governments, public utilities and academia together to work on this issue, that is some progress.”
Unlike H.F. 3422 – which included a working group of subject-matter experts with half the appointments made by the governor and the other half by the Legislature – all task force appointments will be made solely by the governor under his executive order. The group will be convened by Environmental Quality Board and is tasked with providing a report directly to the governor by Dec. 15.
The executive order is silent on the long-term fate of the task force. The executive order – and presumably the existence of the task force – expires 90 days after the governor leaves office. The vetoed bill included funding for a longer term working group with a series of milestones, much more comprehensive reports and some actual wild rice protection and enhancement work.
The executive order also spares the MPCA Commissioner from having to make specific a determination as to when cost-effective sulfate treatment technologies are available and could be implemented, as well a requirement for a thorough economic analysis of the impact of going forward with a new standard.
“I appreciate that executive order 18-08 does not leave us completely dead in the water, but my preference remains for a much more aggressive approach to providing both regulatory certainty and protecting wild rice,” Lueck said. “Much work remains to be done.”
This action follows Dayton’s veto of similarly designed H.F. 3280 in early May.