Although the 2017 legislative session was, at times, very challenging, Conservation Minnesota, along with our members and allies, worked hard this session to defeat, change, and improve proposals that were out of line with Minnesotan’s conservation values. Conservation Minnesota members sent over 16,000 postcards, emails, and phone calls to legislators and Governor Dayton urging them to take action on their priorities.
Working together we helped:
Protect Minnesota’s Waters
Clean Water 25% by 2025
Conservation Minnesota supported a bipartisan bill to set a statewide goal of a 25% improvement in water quality by the year 2025. When the language was cut from the Environment Omnibus Bill, the Governor took executive action and announced his “25 by 25” water quality improvement plan. Conservation Minnesota will hold this as one of our priorities moving forward.
Defending the Buffer Initiative
On November 1, 2017, enforcement of the new buffer law begins. Conservation Minnesota and our members advocated for the law from the start. Attempts were made this session to repeal or rollback the law. Conservation Minnesota helped defend it, and in the end, few changes were enacted and funding mechanisms were put in place to help local governments with monitoring and implementation.
Bonding Proposals for Clean Water
$250 million of the $1 billion bonding bill was allocated to conservation and the environment. Three wins in the bonding bill included:
- $4 million to finance the clean-up of contaminated sites in the St. Louis River.
- $100+ million to local communities to upgrade drinking and wastewater systems.
- $10 million for the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) to protect water quality and drinking water with permanent conservation easements.
Water Quality Standards
Conservation Minnesota also worked to stop the rollback of important water quality standards that control pollutants like phosphorous in rivers and streams.
Aquatic Invasive Species
Conservation Minnesota supported legislation, that passed, allowing invasive carp to be tagged and tracked for research. The more the DNR learns about AIS the more effectively they can help to control its potential impact on Minnesota’s waters.
Invest in Minnesota’s Great Outdoors
Preventing Anti-Public Lands Provisions
Conservation Minnesota opposed the House’s “No net gain” provision on state lands, which would have restricted the use of Legacy Funds for acquisition of habitat, as well as required the Lessard Sams Outdoor Heritage Council to prioritize restoration over habitat acquisition. As a result of public opposition, the final bill did not include these provisions.
Protecting Legacy Amendment Funds
One of the major attacks on the Legacy Amendment this session was a proposal to use funds to pay payment-in-lieu of taxes (PILT) on land acquired with Legacy Funds. PILT compensates local governments when the state acquires land from a private party and that property is taken off local government tax rolls. PILT payments have always been paid by the state’s general fund. A similar proposal was introduced for LCCMR land acquisitions. These provisions were strongly opposed by the outdoors and conservation community and were not included in the final tax bill.
Conservation Minnesota also supported providing a mechanism to repay raids of Legacy Amendment funds with surplus state funds.
Defending State Agencies
Restoring proposed cuts to funding for the Department of Natural Resources, the Pollution Control Agency, and our State Parks.
Hunting & Fishing Fee Increases
The legislature granted the Governor’s requests for certain hunting and fishing fee increases.
Defending the Environmental Quality Board
Attempts to eliminate the Environmental Quality Board (EQB) were rebuffed – the main change is that EQB membership is expanded and must include representation from each of Minnesota’s eight congressional districts.
Increase Renewable Energy
Keep Electric Rates Affordable
The final Jobs and Energy Omnibus bill did include a goal to make Minnesota electric rates stay below the national average.
Encouraging Wind Power
Conservation Minnesota supported legislation allowing new wind projects to be sited sooner.
Remove Toxic Chemicals from Children’s Products
Tire Mulch Moratorium
Although legislation was blocked at the state level, Conservation Minnesota worked on a grass roots level with members and parent advocacy groups to remove shredded tire mulch from playgrounds in Duluth and Minneapolis. Chemicals in tire mulch have been linked to cancer as well as learning and developmental problems.
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.