CORRECTION: The original post noted the General Fund appropriation to the Board of Animal Health as $310 million. The correct amount is $310,000.
(Last updated March 26, 2014 12:21 p.m.)
Pet breeders would become licensed, toxic chemicals in children’s toys would be reported and excess farm produce would go to food shelves under the omnibus environment, natural resources and agriculture supplemental budget bill. Rep. Jean Wagenius (DFL-Mpls), the chair of the House Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Finance Committee, sponsors HF3158, which is the vehicle for the omnibus bill.
Because of the $1.23 billion General Fund surplus that was projected in the February economic forecast, some legislative finance committees were given money to add to current spending levels that were enacted last year for the two-year budget period that began July 1, 2013.
Wagenius’s bill would increase spending for the current budget period by $17.1 million, with $15.6 million coming from the General Fund. The committee on Tuesday approved the bill and referred it to the House Ways and Means Committee. The funding is appropriated to state agencies that deal with environmental and agricultural activities, including:
Department of Agriculture
The funding would be used to compensate farmers for the cost of gathering and packaging crops that they otherwise would throw away. Earlier in the session, bill supporters cited U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics that Minnesota farmers grow 210 million pounds of vegetables and fruits a year that either aren’t harvested or aren’t sold after they’re harvested. The proposal was initially introduced as HF2538 by Rep. Jeanne Poppe (DFL-Austin).
Board of Animal Health
The bill contains the so-called “puppy mill bill” that would create an inspection and licensing process for dog and cat breeders that has been the subject of controversy for several years. Advocates said the legislation is needed because current regulation of pet breeders is complaint-based. Licensed facilities, under the bill, would need to be inspected annually. The bill would provide $310,000
$310 million from the General Fund and $95,000 as an ongoing statutory appropriation from the Special Revenue Fund. The bill was initially introduced as HF84 by Rep. John Lesch (DFL-St. Paul).
Pollution Control Agency
Department of Natural Resources
State parks need money to fix roofs and complete odd jobs that are too small to be eligible for bonding money. Of $2.1 million for the department, the bill would allocate $1.6 million from the General Fund for state park improvements. The funding would pay for deferred maintenance in parks, Wagenius said.
University of Minnesota
Invasive weeds and pests would want to stay away from the new Invasive Terrestrial Plants and Pests Center. The bill would give $5.1 million from the General Fund for the center at the University of Minnesota. The bill also would give the center $490,000 from the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, which is supported by proceeds from the Minnesota Lottery. The proposal was initially introduced as HF1976 by Rep. Andrew Falk (DFL-Murdock).