Legislative session misses opportunities, but gives Minnesota a chance to move forward

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By Matt Doll, Minnesota Environmental Partnership

With Governor Mark Dayton’s final vetoes and bill signatures this week, the 2018 Minnesota legislative session ended with successes, losses, and missed opportunities for Minnesota’s environment. Thanks to the Governor’s veto, bad legislation like the Line 3 giveaway bill and the wild rice standard roll back, didn’t become law – critical victories for Minnesota’s land, air and water. And the bill blocking the Groundwater Protection Rule didn’t reach the Governor’s desk. We thank all Minnesotans who spoke up to make sure this and other bad legislation would not threaten our natural resources.

Unfortunately, critical projects to boost our health and our great outdoors – like Forever Green and the Working Lands Watershed Restoration Program – were left underfunded this year. Worse still, the Legislature passed a raid in the bonding bill on the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund. The ENRTF uses state lottery proceeds to fund innovative research and projects aimed at solving Minnesota’s pressing environmental challenges. The bonding bill signed into law would spend this money on basic services – like infrastructure and waste projects – that should be paid for with general bonding. This raid poses a long-term threat to the ENRTF and all constitutionally-dedicated funds.

For a full session summary, see MEP’s 2018 legislative wrap-up.

Looking to Minnesota’s future

Fortunately, the end of the session left the MDA’s Groundwater Protection Rule process intact, keeping it on track to be finalized this year, with opportunity for citizen input online or at hearings during the summer. MEP will continue to engage with the Department of Agriculture and local leaders to work toward a long-term solution to nitrate pollution in our drinking water.

This month, the Public Utilities Commission is concluding its review of Line 3 at several hearings and deciding whether to grant Enbridge’s pipeline a certificate of need. We call on Minnesotans to speak up at those hearings, and we ask the PUC to recognize that Minnesota does not need this pipeline.

And with the Governor’s office and the future of the Legislature hanging in the balance in the 2018 election, we’ll be working to educate the candidates and prepare our Coalition to bring a positive environmental vision in 2019.

We thank all those who contacted their representatives, joined us at our events, and followed the session with us in 2018. And we urge Minnesotans to keep speaking up on the environmental issues that affect us all!

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