Defending Community and Township Rights
Rep. Beard (R-Shakopee) and Sen. Vandeveer (R-Forest Lake) introduced H.F. 389 and S.F. 270, bills that weaken township and community rights and make it more difficult for citizens to work through their local units of government to make sure large-scale developments don’t harm the well being of their communities. Merely applying for a permit would exempt a proposed development from any future interim ordinance. All too often neighbors do not get any information about a project until after the permit has been applied for. When this happens, an interim ordinance may be needed to freeze the status quo and create time to fully assess the situation. Under this legislation, a community will have very limited rights when it is caught off guard by unanticipated and potentially harmful large developments. The bill was passed out of the House Government Operations committee last week and Senate Government and Elections committee on Feb. 29.
Investing in Our Future
Bonding is moving slowing this session, which is a bit of a surprise but bonding bills are starting to be heard in transportation and environment committees. Three of our bonding priorities were heard in the House this week: $25 million to Reinvest In Minnesota H.F. 2229, a program that protects valuable wildlife habitat; H.F. 2389, $26 million in funding for state trails like the Camp Ripley/Veterans Trail and Gitchi Gami Trail; H.F. 2390, $5 million for state park and recreation area acquisition including Crow Wing State Park and Tettegouche State Park. A bill to provide funds for a Safe Routes to School program that makes walking and biking to school safer for our kids, H.F. 1429 and S.F. 1439, is making it’s way through the House and Senate. And last but not least, bonding bills were introduced, S.F. 1818 and H.F. 2125, to provide $25 million for Made in Minnesota solar to be installed on schools, libraries, police and fire stations and other public buildings. Download our full bonding proposals list
We are hopeful that the legislature and the Governor will pass a significant bonding bill this session that includes important projects that protect and enhance Minnesota’s Great Outdoors and invest in our clean energy future.
Aquatic Invasive Species – Zebra Mussels, Asian Carp, and More…
We have been working to educate legislators on the public’s support to increase boat license fees to fund programs to defeat these threats to Minnesota’s lakes, rivers, and streams. The House has been heard from the Department of Natural Resources about their proposals and funding needs to conduct efforts to protect from further infestation. And there are proposals on the table to conduct further research to identify the best means at eradicating the threat. At this time, no agreement has been struck.
Representative Wagenius and Senator Kelash have proposed raising the current $5 watercraft surcharge, H.F. 1644/S.F. 1415, which is the current source for invasive species management which has not been raised since 1993. This is a starting point and further discussions are planned for March to figure out additional funding to fight the spread of aquatic invasive species.
Another bill sponsored by Chair McNamara, H.F. 2153, and Sen. Ingebrigtsen, S.F. 1839, includes a 21-day waiting period before placing a boat lift, dock or swim raft from one body of water into another.
The House Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee heard the long-term options for fighting aquatic invasive species from the Department of Natural Resources. One idea to prevent the spread of zebra mussels would include containment zone which would require inspections of all boats leaving “containment zones’ near high-use zebra mussel infested waters, using centralized inspection stations. This is projected to cost $10 million per year. Other options could include requiring inspections all 3,800 public and private accesses could cost between $550 – $600 million per year. At this time, the legislature is working with the DNR and other stakeholders to figure out a feasible approach that can move this legislation forward.