Minnesota’s 2015 legislative session was a complicated one, with a large number of important issues on the table. Conservation Minnesota worked with partner organizations and many lawmakers to make progress on a variety of issues ranging from clean water, to toxic chemical awareness, to recycling. This progress was possible through the work of our network that sent over 25,000 messages to legislators and other officials. Working together we helped achieve the following:
Protect Lakes & Rivers
- Riparian Buffers – Successfully supported the Governor’s proposal requiring buffer strips to protect our rivers and streams from sediment and nutrient run-off.
- Microbeads – Worked towards the passage of a strong microbead ban. Microbeads are tiny synthetic pieces of plastic that do not dissolve in water and are not filtered out by treatment plants. The Senate passed a ban with bipartisan support. We are waiting on a final vote that could occur in the 2016 session in the House.
- Aquatic Invasive Species – Successfully fought proposals to repeal or reduce county AIS funding. Supported a proposal to require decontamination of boats that transported AIS.
- Water Levels and Groundwater – Defeated a provision to weaken the DNR’s ability to protect water levels in trout steams. Fought a bill that would weaken the DNR’s ability to limit water appropriation permits to protect surface water.
- Sulfide Mining – Fought a bill to exempt mining from wetland mitigation.
- Actively worked to promote policies and legislation that will reduce waste going to landfills and jumpstart MN recycling rates that have stagnated in recent years.
- Supported changes to the E-Waste program to increase the recycling of electronics and adequately support counties that run these programs. We will help work on a full solution to be passed in 2016.
- Passed legislation making it easier for counties to develop organic recycling programs.
- Opposed the raid on funds set aside for landfill cleanup. Although funds were raided in the final bill, we successfully worked to require that the funds will be automatically repaid from the next budget surplus.
Increase Renewable Energy
- Fought roll-backs to our state’s Renewable Energy Standard and yearly energy savings bill proposed in the Omnibus Environment Bill.
Remove Toxic Chemicals From Children’s Products
- Worked with the Minnesota Professional Firefighters Association to pass the most comprehensive flame retardant ban in the country, which phases out four toxic flame retardants in upholstered furniture and children’s products by January 2018.
- Passed the Toxic Free Kids Act in the Minnesota Senate requiring manufacturers to disclose if the products they sell in Minnesota contain the specific toxic chemicals known to affect the health of children. Unfortunately, the conference committee removed the provision from the final Omnibus Environment bill. We will continue the fight next year.
Invest in Minnesota’s Great Outdoors
- Supported a 25% increase in general funding for State Parks and trails. This helped return state park funding to 2008 levels, reducing concerns that Legacy funds are supplanting traditional funds.
- Defended against attempts to raid dedicated Legacy Amendment funds. There were serious proposals this year to require that Legacy and LCCMR funds be used for PILT (payments in lieu of taxes) on lands acquired with dedicated funds. We worked with a large coalition to argue that this use of dedicated funds is unconstitutional.
- Supported a stakeholder agreement to reform the state’s wetland mitigation requirements. The wetlands provision creates an in-lieu fee program and will allow for the replacement of wetland functions in addition to traditional wetland replacement
All of this happened because of the support of Minnesotans like you. Your support today will allow us to build upon this foundation and create a healthy Minnesota for generations to come.