HF937.CCR.Enviro.brief by twincities

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									  HF 976 (Wagenius) – Omnibus Environment House
                and Agriculture Finance Bill DFL
                                                                     5/18/13 Caucus
The environment, natural resources and agriculture finance bill takes wise steps to prepare for a
stronger economic future throughout the state.

Contrary to the GOP claim that the DFL-led legislature would be “anti-ag”, this bill helps
Minnesota farmers and ag-producers by boosting MDA’s funding and modernizing the
department’s programs. The Minnesota Farmers Union supports this bill.

A highlight of the bill is new resources to strengthen the DNR’s ability to monitor groundwater
and surface water supplies so we have the data necessary to address shortages occurring
across Minnesota. Funding for water protection will not come from increased fees and instead
be funded from within the general fund.

Finally, the bill takes serious steps to prevent the spread of invasive plants and species such as
Asian Carp. The bill protects our natural resource and outdoor recreation economy by funding
public awareness, assessment, monitoring, research and inspections designed to prevent the
spread of invasive plans and species.

HIGHLIGHTS

      Invests an addition $1.7 million in the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA), which
       goes further than Governor Dayton’s budget proposal. The MDA has a proposal that
       would spend $3 million on “Farm-to-School” to bring local produce to schools, $4 million
       in livestock development, $10.5 million in agricultural business development, and $2.5
       million in biofuels and renewable energy.

      Invests an additional $450,000 for food inspections to help prevent foodborne illnesses
       so our workforce stays healthy and productive.

      Strengthens the DNR’s ability to monitor groundwater and surface water supplies so we
       have the data necessary to address shortages occurring across Minnesota. The bill
       appropriates $1,600,000 in FY2014 and $6,000,000 in FY2015 from the General Fund to
       be used by the DNR for:
           o Additional ground and surface water analysis.
           o Increasing the reimbursement rate paid to local units of government for
              monitoring well data. Currently, the DNR is paying $15 per reading, which does
              not cover the cost of staff time for local units of government, which are now
              hesitant to help.
           o Improving technology for surface water monitoring, permitting, technical/data
              analysis, reporting information, and posting information online for the public.
           o Monitoring surface water in select areas to determine the relationship between
              aquifers, springs, small tributaries and other wetlands.

      The fees to pay for water protection were eliminated in conference committee. The
       expanded water program was funded with General Fund money.

      Takes serious steps to prevent the spread of invasive plants and species, like Asian
       Carp. Proposals to install electric fish barriers or close locks did not progress in part
       because of the direct/indirect compilations with the Army Corps of Engineers. This bill
       spends significant resources on prevention of the spread of AIS and makes significant
       steps in enforcement as well.
  HF 976 (Wagenius) – Omnibus Environment House
                and Agriculture Finance Bill DFL
                                                                      5/18/13 Caucus

      Updates our ethanol mandate laws to include types of biofuels that meet federal fuel
       criteria. By expanding the language in statute, MN is being opened to new and
       developing energy sources. This change could possibly open up an entirely new
       renewable fuel industry in MN, as we did with the ethanol industry years ago.

      Helps local authorities deal with the issues from silica sand mining by establishing a
       technical assistance team through the cross agency Environmental Quality Board. This
       gives locals units of government one point of contact if Local Units of Government (LUG)
       have any questions or issues with silica sand mining in their areas.

      Establishes the Product Stewardship program, which works with manufacturers to make
       architectural paint more recyclable. Paint represents huge problems for County
       Hazardous Waste disposals because disposing of them is expensive and a drain on
       county dollars. The Product Stewardship program will reduce the financial burden on
       counties for hazardous waste disposal. This has been vetoed twice by former Governor
       Pawlenty and has taken nearly 10 years to head to a Governor who is willing to sign it.


                        ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES

                               Department of Natural Resources

Ecological and Water Resources

The bill appropriates $1,600,000 in FY2014 and $6,000,000 in FY2015 from the General Fund
to be used by the DNR for:
              Additional ground and surface water analysis.
              Increasing the reimbursement rate paid to local units of government for
        monitoring well data. Currently, the DNR is paying $15 per reading, which does not
        cover the cost of staff time for local units of government, which are now hesitant to help.
              Improving technology for surface water monitoring, permitting, technical/data
        analysis, reporting information, and posting information online for the public.
              Monitoring surface water in select areas to determine the relationship between
        aquifers, springs, small tributaries and other wetlands.

The new water program will be beneficial in multiple areas.

   1) For industry (food processing, farmers, etc.), water monitoring will ensure there is a
      steady and sustainable source of water. A fee increase may seem expensive now, but
      not as expensive as literally draining the ground water systems and having to close or
      relocate businesses.
   2) For cities, water monitoring can help either validate the long term sustainable water
      supply or uncover problems for a city where demand is either expected to grow from a
      population increase or from increased demand from growing industries. In these
      situations, the more time a city has to plan, the easier it will be to adjust to the new
      demand.
   3) For areas with declining water levels, water monitoring can help pinpoint some of the
      causes for those declines. Understanding the problem is helpful when designing the
      most efficient solution.
  HF 976 (Wagenius) – Omnibus Environment House
                and Agriculture Finance Bill DFL
                                                                   5/18/13 Caucus

Forest Management

Increasing the Forest Management budget was one of the higher priorities for the DNR and the
Senate. The House position increased the amount of funding for forestry by $5 million for the
biennium, and the Senate proposed raising it by $11 million for the biennium. The committee
agreed to raise the forestry budget by $9 million over 2 years and added $1.1 million in onetime
funds.


                                  Pollution Control Agency

Water Program

Perfluorochemical (PFC) Bio-Monitoring (HF1402 -- J.A. Ward): The MN Dept. of Health
points to studies in animals that show that high levels of PFC have been linked to liver and
thyroid problems, increased numbers of tumors and reproductive problems. These studies
tested higher concentrations of PFCs than people typically experience. It is very common to find
PFCs in drinking water, food and in nearly everyone’s blood. In conference committee, this was
combined with another program but will still continue; $757,000 in FY14 and $757,000 in FY15
are appropriated from the Environmental Fund to MPCA and transferred to MDH to continue
bio-monitoring in eastern metropolitan communities where production waste was dumped by
3M.This more than doubles the funding from the House position, but also includes monitoring
for mercury in newborns and asthma.

Air Program

Localized Air Monitoring Equipment (HF1191 -- Clark): The CCR adopted language to
purchase mobile air monitoring equipment. The new equipment is advantageous because air
testing can happen in areas that haven’t been tested before to either discover new problems or
validate air quality modeling. The bill also directs MPCA to give priority to monitoring areas
where low income, indigenous American Indians, and communities of color are
disproportionately impacted by pollution from highway, air or industrial traffic.

Environmental Assistance and Cross-Media Program

Technical Assistance Team (HF906 -- Hansen): The Environmental Quality Board (EQB) will
create a technical assistance team to help local authorities manage the mining process. This
includes: zoning, permitting, ordinance development, environmental review and permitting, and
other issues as they arrive. Two major advantages to having the EQB as the go-to group are:
1) the EQB can work across agencies (MDA, MPCA, DEED, MDH, DNR, MnDOT, Commerce
and BWSR); and 2) the EQB is one point of contact established for many different issues, which
streamlines the process.

                             AGRICULTURE APPROPRIATIONS

                            Minnesota Department of Agriculture
  HF 976 (Wagenius) – Omnibus Environment House
                and Agriculture Finance Bill DFL
                                                                       5/18/13 Caucus
Food Inspectors: The bill appropriates an additional $450,000 for food inspections. Recent
problems with tainted foods have highlighted the need for MDA to take over the inspections in
metro area grocery stores.

Agriculture Growth, Research and Innovation: The ethanol producer payments, which were
used to help start the ethanol industry, were converted into a program to advance the
agriculture and the renewable energy industry. With $10,235,000 per year in the fund, the
Agriculture Commissioner will report to the Legislature on progress in 5 different areas: 1)
expansion of Farm-to-School programs to increase the amount of local produce in local schools;
2) grants for start-up, transition and expansion of family farm livestock operations; 3) assistance
with the start-up of any farm; 4) research on conventional and cover crops; and 5) exploration of
other forms of renewable energy. For this biennium, only $1,000,000 each year is appropriated
for county agriculture society fair grants.

Pesticide Training Manuals: The manuals are out of date and needed to be updated several
years ago. The bill appropriates $200,000 from the Pesticide Regulatory Account to modernize
and create a new pesticide training material. Without this appropriation, the manuals would stay
in paper form only and not be updated to reflect current best practices.

Second Harvest Food Shelf: $1,000,000 over the biennium is designated for pass-through
grants to purchase milk at wholesale prices for the Second Harvest food shelf.

                                              POLICY

AGRICULTURE POLICY
HF 251 (Poppe) -- Extends the sunset date of the Farmer-Lender Mediation Act to June 30,
2016. The program requires banks or lenders to offer mediation to a farmer before enforcing the
debt by foreclosure or repossession. To qualify for mediation, the farmer must owe more than
$5,000. For small farming operations (less than 60 acres), the farmer has to sell over $20,000
of agricultural products in the previous year to qualify for mediation. The University of
Minnesota Extension coordinates the mediation process.


ENVIRONMENT & NATURAL RESOURCES
HF 865 (Sundin) -- The Product Stewardship program works with manufacturers to make paint
more easily recyclable.
HF 737 (Hansen) – This is the MPCA policy bill that contained the Petroleum Remediation
Program. It allows the MPCA to enter into environmental covenants when the MPCA assists
with a petroleum spill. It was a controversial section until a compromise was adopted in the Civil
Law Committee.
HF 906 (Hansen) – The bill establishes criteria for silica sand mining by the Environmental
Quality Board (EQB), and creates a technical assistance team to provide help to local
authorities who are working with silica sand mining.
HF 1057 (Hackbarth) -- Creates an additional opportunity for ATV riders to contribute to a
special grant-in-aid fund to pay for grant-in-aid trails. It also adds a “no registration” weekend for
ATVs on state and grant-in-aid trails for those without a registration permit. It also expands the
areas that riders can use to include the bank, slope or ditch of a public highway as long riders
use this area to access business or make a trail connection. It also requires 16- and 17-year old
riders to have “on handle training.”

								
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