Legislative Blog: Our top three priorities in 2019

by Trevor Russell

This legislative session, FMR and our coalition partners are teaming up to advance a new way forward for clean water: The Minnesota Water Act.
 

It's an exciting year at the Minnesota Legislature. The returning GOP Senate majority met a new Democratic House majority and a newly-elected Governor Tim Walz at the start of the session on January 8. And we're part of a broad coalition advocating the passage of the Minnesota Water Act, ambitious legislation that calls for 100% clean, safe and affordable drinking water by 2050.

The Act pulls together common-sense steps we can take this legislative session to help our state meet that goal. FMR's top priorities in the Minnesota Water Act are to support programs that protect our water and reduce river pollution by supporting the production of new clean-water crops and to restore Minnesotans' trust by restoring the raid on our environmental trust fund.

Forever Green Initiative

Water is our most precious natural resource. Generations forward need us to keep our ground and surface waters clean so they can rely on water for health and prosperity the way we do. 

To accomplish that, our state must make strategic investments in the University of Minnesota's Forever Green Initiative, a program that is developing economically viable clean-water crops — perennial and cover crops that are good for wildlife, water and farmers.

Working Lands Drinking Water Protection Program

Everyone has a right to clean water. Unfortunately, in many parts of Minnesota, the groundwater that communities rely on for public water supply are contaminated by farm runoff.

To address this problem, FMR has collaborated with agronomists, farmers and agricultural businesses to develop a new state pilot program. The Working Lands program is designed specifically to help farmers plant and sell clean-water crops in targeted areas where drinking water sources are vulnerable.

Restore Minnesotans' trust by reversing the Environmental Trust Fund raid

Minnesotans know our home by our water. Whether through a peaceful walk across the Mississippi River at St. Anthony Falls, or that breathtaking view of Lake Superior as you enter into downtown Duluth, we know Minnesota's places are defined by connection to our waters. That’s why Minnesotans have consistently voted in favor of setting aside funds specifically to protect clean water and the environment.

But last spring, a handful of legislators crafted a deal to usurp the will of Minnesota voters. To cover interest on past debt and avoid the hard budget choices they were sent to St. Paul to make, legislators raided the constitutionally-approved Environment & Natural Resources Trust Fund. They used money we need to protect our waters for other projects that should have been funded with traditional sources.

This session we will work to reverse last year's raid on these funds by re-bonding for these projects with traditional General Obligation bonds.

Stay up to date

Through the session, you can stay up-to-date on key environment and water quality issues on our Legislative Updates page. Check back for news on these priorities and more.

You can also follow us on social media (Facebook and Twitter) and sign up for our bimonthly e-newsletter, Mississippi Messages.

Become a River Guardian

Want to take action? Sign up to become a River Guardian, and we'll let you know when it's time to contact decision makers and make your voice heard. River Guardians are also invited to special events, including happy hours, where you can learn more about important legislative and metro river corridor issues.