Sara Wolff, Advocacy Director
Minnesota Environmental Partnership
Legislative Session Ends with Shattering of Public Trust
This legislative session fell far short of meeting Minnesotans’ expectations. At a time when our state needs to make progress on climate change, water quality, pollinator health and transit, this legislature was defined by rollbacks, raids and vetoes.
It saw attempts to roll back the authority of the Public Utilities Commission to regulate pipelines and nuclear facilities, the authority of the Pollution Control Agency to protect wild rice, and the authority of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture to protect drinking water.
In a year with $3.3 billion worth of identified projects, and $3.5 billion of debt capacity to meet those needs, legislative leadership opted for a too-small bonding bill and raided the constitutionally-dedicated Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund (ENRTF) to fund additional projects for which they did not want to pay.
When voters created the state lottery in 1988, it was, in part, so Minnesota could do more for our air, water, land, fish and wildlife, not as a replacement for funding of basic state services like sewers and landfills as the legislature has now directed. This raid of the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund was unveiled only at the 11th hour, with little committee review or public participation. It ignores the agreement, constitution and public trust that created this Trust Fund and changes the rules on the use of the Trust midstream. This action sets a terrible precedent, and puts the future existence of all constitutionally dedicated funds at risk.
Minnesotans deserve better, both in terms of legislative process and outcomes.
For more information on the raid of the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, see this letter.