Legislating against agriculture and environment

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According to Governor Mark Dayton, “Agriculture is not a partisan issue—all Minnesotans want a strong agricultural industry.” That’s far from evident in the agriculture omnibus bill that Republicans in the legislature sent to the governor –which he vetoed last week. Besides restricting spending for the Agriculture Growth, Research and Innovation (AGRI) program, the bill takes away the Department of Agriculture authority to enforce pesticide regulations. That puts Minnesota in conflict with the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).

This is one of a series of short blogs about specific omnibus bills, with quotes from Governor Mark Dayton’s veto messages. For an overall perspective, see You go, Guv! and other posts on the Minnesota legislature.

Environmentalists are not all tree-huggers – many are hunters, campers, boaters, and people who enjoy fishing. With the Republican omnibus bill, Dayton wrote:

“Some state park campgrounds will be closed or their seasons shortened. Fewer lakes will be stocked with fish. DNR’s ability to coordinate and collaborate with lake associations and conservation clubs will be reduced. The refusal to invest in Minnesota’s outdoor heritage is an affront to all who hunt, fish, boat, use A TVs, and snowmobile.”

The bill also reduces the amount of money available for cleanup of Superfund and brownfield sites, and underfunds groundwater contamination monitoring, air quality services, forestry programs, and enforcement.

Then come the policy provisions, which violate the single-subject provision of the State Constitution. Dayton’s veto message lists many problematic policy provisions, including:

  • Numerous polices that effectively gut the Buffer Law and delay it.
  • Restricting the Environmental Quality Board jurisdiction, and adding unreasonable criteria for all citizen applicants to participate.
  • Preempting local government decisions on solid waste management, specifically preventing plastic bag bans.
  • Removing protection of calcareous fens.
  • Eroding DNR’s ability to manage groundwater supplies by automatically transferring water permits .
  • Allowing the importation of golden shiner minnows, presenting a serious risk of introductions of environmentally devastating invasive species.
  • A lead shot rulemaking prohibition that limits the DNR’s authority to provide wildlife health protections on state land.

There’s more – you can click and read:

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