Skip to main content Skip to office menu Skip to footer
Capital IconMinnesota Legislature

Pet breeders, farm produce, toxic chemicals find a place in enviro bill

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.)

Rep. Jean Wagenius (DFL-Mpls) sponsors HF3158.

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

  • A new farm-to-food shelf program would provide incentives for farmers to give their unsold produce to food shelves. Of the department’s $1.7 million in new spending for fiscal year 2015, $1.5 million would be allocated to the non-profit food bank Second Harvest Heartland for the program.

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).

  • The bill would compensate beekeepers when their bees are killed by pesticides by providing $100,000 from the General Fund and $150,000 from a pest regulatory account to pay claims. Compensation would be available in certain instances, including when the person who applied the pesticide can’t be determined or the person applied the pesticide in a manner consistent with its labeling. The program would function similar to wolf and elk depradation programs. The proposal was initially introduced as HF2908 by Rep. Rick Hansen (DFL-South St. Paul).

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

  • Efforts to develop the recycling of organic material like food scraps get funding in the bill. Advocates testified that increased funding is needed to meet a recycling goal of 75 percent of waste produced in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. The bill would take $7 million from the existing tax on trash hauling and disposal that is currently being deposited in the General Fund and direct the money to counties as part of the SCORE program. Advocates initially proposed all of the $22 million that’s currently going to the General Fund be steered to the SCORE program. But that would have exceeded the committee’s fiscal target. The proposal was initially introduced as HF2564 by Rep. Frank Hornstein (DFL-Mpls).
  • Lawmakers are hoping a relatively small amount of money goes a long way in learning how non-biodegradable plastic beads used in cosmetic products pose a threat to the health of the state’s surface water. The agency would receive $1,000 to study the existing literature on the damage that tiny micro beads cause to ecosystems and human health. A PCA official testified the tiny micro beads are getting through sewer systems and eventually threaten the food chain. The PCA would need to present its findings to the relevant legislative committees by Dec. 15, 2014. The bill was initially introduced as HF2101 by Hansen.
  • Concerned parents have come to the Capitol this session asking lawmakers to make it easier for them to obtain information about potentially harmful chemicals in their children’s toys. The so-called “Toxic Free Kids Act” would require makers of products that contain chemicals that are regarded as a “high concern” by the Department of Health to notify the agency. Industry groups have raised concerns that the proposed law would differ from other state  laws. The bill would generate $335,000 in 2015 from the General Fund.

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).

Related Articles

Priority Dailies

Minnesota House on Twitter