North Star Chapter Legislative Updates

640px-minnesotacapitol

photo by Jonathunder

Every Friday during the 2012 session, we’ll be posting weekly updates right here on the North Star Chapter blog. This is our first update of the year!

Week in Review: February 6-10
With precinct caucuses happening on Tuesday, the Minnesota Legislature was relatively quiet this past week.
On Thursday, the House Environment Committee discussed the ongoing challenge of dealing with aquatic invasive species (AIS). Although some significant policy changes were adopted in 2011, much more is needed. Fortunately, this is one area where there does seem to be some bipartisan agreement in the need to act. HF2153, the DNR policy bill, contains a number of additional policy changes designed to help the DNR deal more effectively with aquatic invasives.

On Wednesday, the Minnesota Environmental Partnership held its annual Legislative Forum at the Summit Brewery in St. Paul. The forum – which is always a fun event – was attended by well over 100 environmental advocates, legislators and agency staff. Speakers included DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr, Rep. Denny McNamara and Rep. Kate Knuth.

Key Environmental Issues of the Week
1. Environmental Permitting “Streamlining” – Bills introduced in both the House and Senate (HF2095/SF1567) would make a variety of changes to Minnesota’s environmental permitting process. Although presented under the auspices of “job creation”, these bills would really just weaken the permitting process to make it more difficult for state regulators to enforce existing laws. One particularly troubling example: SF1567/HF2095 would allow project proposers to hire private consultants to write the actual permits, and then as long as the consultant is state approved would consider any such permit to be complete and approved upon submission.

2. School Trust Land Management – On Tuesday this week, legislators from several House and Senate committees will hear presentations about Minnesota School Trust lands. School trust lands were granted to the state for the purpose of generating revenue for schools. Much of this revenue comes from timber sales from Trust Lands in northeastern Minnesota. One proposal that has been floated in recent years and is likely to be introduced this session as well would take management responsibility of the Trust Lands away from the DNR and instead create a new “independent” board for Trust Land oversight.

Upcoming Legislative Hearings of Interest:
Tuesday, Feb 14 – House Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Committee 8:15am, State Office Building Room 5

  • Presentation on School Trust lands
  • HF2095: Environmental permitting “streamlining” 

Tuesday, Feb 14 – Senate Jobs and Economic Growth Committee 10:30am, Capitol Room 107

  • SF1567: Environmental permitting “streamlining” 

Tuesday, Feb 14 – House Education Committee 12:30pm, State Office Building Room 5

  • Presentation on School Trust lands 

Tuesday, Feb 14 – Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee 2:30pm, Capitol Room 15

  • Presentation on School Trust lands 

Wednesday, Feb 15 – House Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Committee 8:15am, State Office Building Room 5

  • HF2095: Environmental permitting “streamlining”
  • HF1644: Watercraft surcharge and aquatic plant management fees modified. 

Thursday, Feb 16 – House Jobs and Economic Development Finance Committee 12:30pm, State Office Building Room 10

  • HF2095: Environmental permitting “streamlining” 

Interested in attending a hearing at the capitol? Click here for directions on how to visit the capitol!

Do you know who your legislator is? If not, visit the MN Legislature’s district finder: http://www.gis.leg.mn/OpenLayers/districts/

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