Conservation Minnesota

The Line: Power to (none of) the people!

This week on the Line

Molly Pederson, Government Affairs Director

We start this week with BREAKING NEWS about last week’s “Worst. Bill. EVER” that repealed every single DNR, PCA, BWSR, EQB and Dept. of Ag rule. After insisting all week that the bill really doesn’t repeal all of the rules, proponents finally acknowledged that, yes, the bill really does repeal all of the rules, and maybe that’s not such a good idea. So that provision was deleted in the House version, but it’s still in the Senate version. Both versions are still full of the terribly burdensome reporting requirements, so still a lot of work to do.

You Betcha!

This week’s shout out goes to Senator Mary Jo McGuire and Representative Joe Atkins who introduced legislation that extends the Bisphenol-A (BPA) ban to more children’s products, including containers for baby food and baby formula. Really, doesn’t this seem like the next logical step for the state that was first to ban BPA in bottles and sippy cups? Come on, people!

Uff Da! Power to (none of) the people!

If you think ordinary Minnesotans have w-a-a-a-a-y too much power, SF 270/HF 389 Interim planning ordinances and municipal development contracts provided is the bill for you. The title is a fancy way of saying: if you’re just some average person who’s worried about how a proposed big-box store, factory farm, or other large development might affect your community, your options are about to be severely limited.

Right now, local governments can file interim ordinances at any time during the permitting process for these types of developments. I like to think of this as a town’s way of calling a “time out” while it decides if the right safeguards are in place to protect from pollution and other types of damage. While the ordinance is in effect, a permit can’t be issued. Of course, the town can lift the ordinance and grant the permit after they’ve got those protections in place. Oh, and right now, this action only needs a simple majority of city, township or county officials.

Under the new law, a 30-day clock starts running right after the first public hearing following the permit application is submitted (Confused? I think that’s the goal.) After the 30 days are up, the town can’t enact the interim ordinance anymore. And that public hearing…it doesn’t have to be about, or even mention the application, so there’s a pretty good chance nobody will even find out about it until it’s too late. What’s worse, the new law would require a 2/3 “super majority” for the action. For those boards with only 5 members, that actually means 4 out of 5 members have to agree to take a break and get their ducks in a row.

HF 389 is awaiting a vote on the House floor. It’s still in committee in the Senate, so we’ll keep you up to date.

Caught at the Capitol this week

On Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee is taking up SF 1567, so maybe we’ll find out how much it’s going to cost the state to cede control of our permitting process to corporations and their so-called permit applicant professionals (PAP). Ole says: Toss it back!

Proponents of HF 2273 will be making their case for why Washington should decide how clean Minnesota’s water should be, not you all. So, even if we want to pollute less than the rest of the country, we won’t be able to. The bill is up in the House Environment Committee on Tuesday. Ole says: Toss it back!

Two bills, SF 2072 and SF 2042, that roll back all of the progress we’ve made replacing lost wetlands (and protecting the ones we still have) are up in the Senate Environment Committee on Tuesday. Ole says: Toss ‘em back

Both the House and Senate will be talking trash (literally) when HF 2084 is up in the House Government Operations Committee on Tuesday and SF 1664 is up in the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee on Thursday. The bills apply something called “inverse condemnation” to solid waste services. This limits the ability of cities, townships and counties to protect the public health and the environment by forcing them to choose the status quo or face potentially large payouts to private businesses. Ole says: Toss ‘em back!

What is the Line? It’s Conservation Minnesota’s light, 100% Minnesotan look at conservation happenings at the Capitol as seen by me, a lobbyist who actually doesn’t go outside very much. Please don’t confuse the Line with the always enjoyable musings of the other, taller half of Conservation Minnesota’s government affairs team, John Tuma. You can (and should!) check out his blog here.

Questions about anything in the Line? Contact Molly.

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