By Justin Fay
As the Minnesota Legislature enters the last weeks of the 2013 session, plenty of environmental issues remain unresolved. Here are a few of the issues that we are watching right now:
On Thursday, the House passed its version of the environment and natural resources finance bill (HF976). The House bill makes a number of critical investments in Minnesota’s environment, particularly in the areas of groundwater protection and aquatic invasive species control. After years of budget gimmicks and overall neglect, this year’s House bill provides stable, honest budgeting and some reasonable priorities to address some of the most significant challenges currently facing Minnesota’s environment. The Senate is expected to consider their version of the environment finance bill on the floor soon. Unfortunately the Senate bill fails to make many of the same strategic investments to protect Minnesota’s lakes, rivers, streams and drinking water. We look forward to working with members from both bodies as the bills head towards conference committee in the weeks ahead.
Meanwhile, the omnibus energy policy bill (HF956/SF901) is moving closer to becoming law. The next round of hearings are set for this Monday, April 22 (Earth Day!) in both the House and Senate. These bills contain critical provision that would help grow Minnesota’s clean energy economy and position our state as a leader for decades to come. Strong public support at these hearings is critical! Come out for the Clean Energy and Jobs Campaign Lobby Day and Rally, and stop by to show your support:
House Ways and Means Committee
Monday, April 22, 10am
Room 200, State Office Building
Senate Environment, Economic Development and Agriculture Division
Monday, April 22, 12pm
Room 112, State Capitol
Finally, transit funding remains a priority area of focus for the North Star Chapter. Earlier this week, hundreds of supporters came to the capitol to show their support for a strong, balanced transportation funding package that includes significant new funding for transit.
Both the House and Senate are considering significant new funding for transit — including both light rail and bus system expansion – along with additional resources for building out infrastructure for bicycles and pedestrians.
Justin Fay is the staff lobbyist for the Sierra Club North Star Chapter.