In its most recent meeting on October 12, the LCCMR continues to struggle with the myriad issues involved in determining how to make legislative recommendations as to the amount of monies put toward natural resource projects, and what exactly those projects may encompass. The day-long meeting adjourned with some progress – and a share of stalled items.
On the progress front: the committee agreed to the language that will be in the RFP for water (there is no RFP for land protection) and the language in the LCCMR’s request for proposals. Trimming down the previous seven proposal areas to four, the water RFP inserted more descriptive language concerning wetlands but removed land use practices as a category, although some of that language is incorporated into the wetlands area.
Foregoing climate change funding
More unfortunately however, the committee determined not to include a category addressing RFPs for climate change and hydrological impacts. While Rep. Jean Wagenius and Sen. Ellen Anderson objected to Al Berner’s suggestion that this area for funding be moved to next year, it is becoming more and more apparent, as Wagenius and Anderson stated, that the time is now to begin acting in this area. If Hummer-driving California Gov. Schwarzenegger has enough foresight to move his state into legislating lowered emissions to provide environmental protection and reduce greenhouse gases, Minnesota should pride itself as having just as much foresight concerning environmental issues.
Total Water Funding Vague
Where things stalled was exactly how much money would be allocated out of the budget for water RFPs. It is known that a minimum of $2 million will go to the water conservation focus, but the committee could potentially earmark up to $11 million. Unable to come to a decision on this, the committee agreed to review the allocation of monies once RFPs are submitted and reviewed.
Committee Process Proves Interesting (Or Not)
The committee’s struggles are evident not only in the ongoing reviews of RFP’s (the committee loves to use the term “wordsmithing“) but also in the pairing of legislative members and citizens on the committee. Process is an important (and often yawn-inducing) aspect of legislative work and those ingrained in the system honor it like the Holy Grail. Of course, most citizens are not as well-versed in such processes and this disconnect between the two styles of work habits between elected officials and public representatives has made for some interesting verbal sparring but also some tension, leading to looks of exasperation all around.
Electronic Submissions Requested
Stepping into the modern age, submissions are requested to be sent electronically and you can view the forms online. Proposals are due to LCCMR by November 16. LCCMR staff will assist any groups or individuals with this new electronic process. Funding begins July 1; projects must be ready to go when funding is allocated and must be completed within 36 months.