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Omnibus environment bill gets division OK; heads to House Ways and Means Committee

The House Environment and Natural Resources Finance Division takes up amendments to its omnibus bill Thursday as members finished their work. Photo by Andrew VonBank

The sound of opposition was quiet and scattered.

A few Republican members offered up ‘nays’ while others sat silent, following the strong chorus of ‘ayes’ from DFL members of the House Environment and Natural Resources Finance Division Thursday as it voted to approve the omnibus environment and natural resources bill.

Likely ending division action for the session, the vote successfully moved along HF2209, as amended, and sponsored by Rep. Rick Hansen (DFL-South St. Paul), to the House Ways and Means Committee, where it is scheduled to be heard April 10.

Hansen characterized the $1.75 billion House bill — introduced Tuesday — as a comprehensive proposal made up of bills presented by Democrats and Republicans.

Yet bipartisanship was not on display over an amendment offered by the division’s newest member, Rep. Nathan Nelson (R-Hinckley), who unsuccessfully sought to delete a provision that would rename St. Croix State Park to Walter F. Mondale State Park.

Doing so would likely require an act of Congress, Nelson suggested, due to historic site designations. Nor is the funding provided adequate to cover the cost of replacing signs, he said.

Bob Meier, policy and government relations director for the Department of Natural Resources, concurred that the “fiscal is probably south of what we are going to need” for replacing signs. Historic designation of several buildings would likely require a historical review, he added, but the naming of state parks is entirely within the purview of the Legislature.

The division did approve several other amendments. They would:

  • clarify a carpet stewardship program;
  • clarify grant use for ash tree removal, replacement, and county or local government biomass projects relating to emerald ash borer;
  • amend aquatic invasive species surcharges for boats that are not moved between water bodies;
  • repurpose an appropriation for Roberds Lake so it can be used as a grant for debris cleanup;
  • amend language relating to ATV trails requested by the DNR;
  • alter funding to establish a chronic wasting disease adopt-a-dumpster program and require quarterly reporting from the planning and emergency response to wildlife disease effort;
  • clarify deadlines for lifetime game and fish licenses to include postmarks, accounting for mail delays;
  • add funding for a multi-purpose bridge across Sand Creek on the Mississippi River Northwoods Trail; and
  • add funding for an off-road motorcycle trail to the St. Croix State Park renaming proposal.

The Senate omnibus environment bill, SF835, sponsored by Sen. Carrie Ruud (R-Breezy Point), awaits action by the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Finance Committee.


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