Minnesotans who follow the state legislature know if there's anything related to the environment that incites the House Republicans, it's climate change, solar energy, environmental education and land acquisition, even if Minnesotans want spending for those items.
Thus, it wasn't a surprise to watch the Minnesota House Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee strip over 20 projects recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources from HF1625, the lottery trust fund bill on Thursday morning.
Session Daily's Jonathan Mohr reports in LCCMR bill moves forward despite substantial changes:
The amount of money meant to benefit Minnesota’s environment and natural resources remained largely the same, but how that money would be spent was the subject of sharp disagreement among members of the House Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee Thursday.
Sponsored by Rep. Josh Heintzeman (R-Nisswa), HF1265 would appropriate more than $59 million based on recommendations made by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources for expenditures from the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund. The fund was established through a constitutional amendment in 1988 to direct proceeds from the state lottery and investment income to benefit those resources.
However, as Thursday’s meeting began, the committee adopted a delete-all amendment on a largely party-line, roll-call vote that stripped more than 20 of the 69 projects recommended by the LCCMR, and instead devoted much of that funding to the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program.
During the hearing, Minneapolis DFLer Jean Wagenius reminded the committee members that Governor Dayton hoped to fund CREP through bonding, while the deleted projects, which had withstood a long vetting process by staff and members of the LCCMR, were not eligible for bonding. Mohr continues:
“There are some differences of opinion on some of these particular items,” Heintzeman said. “In order to try and move this bill forward we had to make some adjustments.” . . .
But DFL committee members objected to cuts made to projects focused on climate change, solar power, environmental education and land acquisitions. And they said that although they support funding for the conservation reserve program, other sources for those dollars were under consideration and could be used.
Rep. Frank Hornstein (DFL-Mpls) said some of deletions were “unconscionable” and that he was very disappointed.
“We cannot continue to deny the reality of climate change, and we’ve done that again in this bill,” he said.
Rep. Rick Hansen (DFL-South St, Paul) said he understood the need to fashion a bill that would find enough votes to pass, but he also wants legislation that would benefit Minnesotans.
“Environmental education involves Minnesotans, solar helps light the path to the future, scientific acquisition protects treasures that could be lost, and climate change acknowledges reality,” Hansen said.
A number of testifiers also spoke against the amended bill, including LCCMR co-chair Jeff Broberg, who said the committee had done many hours of work to arrive at its recommendations and that cutting 25 projects undermined the process.
“We went through a very deliberative process to come up with a series of recommendations that we think best serves the state of Minnesota,” Broberg said.
In his latest legislative update, DFL committee lead Hansen writes:
YOUR LOTTERY MONEY TINKERED WITH (AGAIN)
“Environmental education involves Minnesotans, solar helps light the path to the future, scientific acquisition protects treasures that could be lost, and climate change acknowledges reality,” Hansen said. . . .
I would encourage you to watch the video. We did not start on time as the Republicans did not have enough votes to pass their amendment stripping out the projects referenced.
The amendment ended up passing by a 11-10 split, with Steve Green, R-Fosston, joining the DFLers on the committee in opposing the changes.
Here's the Youtube; Bluestem will be updating this post with excerpts from the entire mess. As is the case for all Mn House Information Services video archives, what home viewers saw before the committee was called to order is stripped from the footage (usually, the delays are much less deliberate). However, Bluestem did get a screengrab of Chair Fabian and Minority Lead Hansen returning to their seats after one of several huddles before the show began It's at the top of this post.
Screengrab: Pre-gavel drama at the Minnesota state capitol. Chair Fabian is the man walking on the far side of the committee table, while Minority lead Hansen is in the lower left hand corner of the photo.
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