2018 Legislative Update – April 11, 2018

April 11, 2018

With only a few weeks left of session, there is still plenty of work to do in order to protect Minnesota’s water resources.

Reducing Chloride Pollution in Lakes, Rivers and Streams
Conservation Minnesota is partnering with a wide coalition of groups to help pass legislation this session that aims to reduce chloride pollution caused by excessive salt application. Committees in both the Minnesota Senate and Minnesota House of Representatives have heard the bill (HF 3577/SF 3199). The House passed the bill through Environment, Civil Law and Ways and Means committees. The Senate version has passed through the Environment Policy committee but has stalled in the Judiciary committee. Conservation Minnesota is working with our partners, and the Governor’s Office, to make sure that this bill to protect Minnesota’s lakes and rivers from chloride pollution becomes law by the end of the legislative session on May 21.

Implement the New Buffer Law
While the vast majority of Minnesota landowners are in compliance with the new riparian buffer law, there are still some members of the legislature who want to repeal this important protection for our water resources. The Board of Water and Soil Resources is developing the regulations necessary to enforce the new law, and Conservation Minnesota will continue to work with the agency and our partners in implementing an effective and equitable law to protect water resources. 

Conservation Easements Can Help Water Quality
Both the Minnesota House and Senate have yet to publicly debate a comprehensive Omnibus Tax bill, and this large and complicated bill is likely one of the last major bills that will be hammered out this session. Conservation Minnesota is still working to align Minnesota state property tax laws with a policy that promotes the use of conservation easements to help protect lakes, rivers and wetlands (see SF 1951). Most issues related to the Omnibus Tax bill will not be decided until closer to May 21st, so expect Conservation Minnesota to work on this issue throughout the remainder of the legislative session.

Bonding to Help Clean Water
 Just like a large tax bill, the Bonding Bill is one of the last major bills to be negotiated during a normal legislative session. You can expect that Conservation Minnesota will be working right up through May 21st to make sure this year’s bonding bill includes $30 million for CREP to pay for permanent protections for riparian lands, wetlands and wellhead protection areas; and an additional $167 million to help municipalities repair and replace outdated wastewater and drinking water infrastructure to keep of lakes and rivers clean. 

Other Issues
Conservation Minnesota is also tracking: bills that would impact aquatic invasive species, bills regarding the Dept. of Agriculture’s Groundwater Protection Measure (also known as the Nitrogen Fertilizer Rule), bills modifying the wild rice sulfate rule, and bills that impact the ability of agencies like the Dept. of Natural Resources to make rules that protect our lakes, rivers and other water resources. With your help, Conservation Minnesota looks to further our work to protect the Minnesota you love.