In a first, Legislature includes all Clean Water Fund recommendations in budget
Established by voters with the passage of Minnesota's 2008 Legacy Amendment, the Clean Water Fund directs one-third of Legacy Amendment tax revenue to protect, enhance and restore water quality in lakes, rivers, streams and groundwater.
For the first time ever, lawmakers have honored the entirety of the Clean Water Council's recommendations for how this dedicated environmental fund should be spent — a significant victory for the Clean Water Fund and a testament to the council's hard work in bringing those recommendations forward.
The 2023 Legislature adopted the entirety of the council's recommendations and included them in the omnibus legacy bill (HF 1999 - 4th Engrossment), passed with bipartisan support on May 10. Other than a few small changes in policy language and inserting funding for the RiverWatch monitoring program, the Clean Water Council's funding recommendations for $318 million have been adopted in full.
FMR is particularly happy with three elements.
1. A first for lawmakers
This is the first time lawmakers have adopted 100% of the Clean Water Council's funding recommendations. We are grateful for lawmakers' willingness to honor the thorough and thoughtful work of the council in bringing forward those recommendations.
2. Forever Green and clean-water crops
We're thrilled that lawmakers expressed support for $6 million in funding for Forever Green within the Clean Water Fund. Paired with additional general fund support for Forever Green in the agriculture bill (read about that here), the future is as bright as ever for clean-water crops. This funding, unlike its counterpart in the agriculture bill, is "one-time" rather than ongoing support.
3. 100% Clean Water Goal
We're pleased to see new statewide clean water goal language adopted by lawmakers in the bill. The language clarifies that the goal of the state of Minnesota is to have 100% of our state's waters meet water quality goals by 2050.
FMR greatly appreciates the efforts of Rep. Leon Lillie (DFL-N. St. Paul), Sen. Foung Hawj (DFL-St. Paul) and Sen. Jennifer McEwen (DFL-Duluth) in ensuring the passage of a "clean" Clean Water Fund bill this session.
Previous 2023 updates
Apr. 2: Lawmakers give green light to Clean Water Fund recommendations
Senate status: Clean Water Council recommendation included in SF 1682-a3
House status: Clean Water Council recommendation included in HF 1999DE1
We are pleased to note that the omnibus Senate Legacy Finance bill (SF1682-a3) accepts the Clean Water Council’s Clean Water Fund recommendations for fiscal year 2024-25.
In the House of Representatives, we are likewise pleased to note that HF 1999 has been heard and advanced by the House Legacy Committee and includes the entirety of the Clean Water Council’s $313.3 million in recommendations for the biennium.
The House bill also contains a pair of significant policy modifications.
The first would instruct the Clean Water Council to make annual (rather than biennial) recommendations to the Legislature on how Clean Water Funds should be spent — in alignment with the annual funding approach used for the state’s other Legacy Amendment funds. The second change adds new language that makes it the goal of the state to have all of our state’s waters meet state clean water standards by 2040 — a goal FMR strongly supports.
There’s a good chance these modifications make it into the final bill approved by the Legislature, and we will continue to monitor progress (as well as watch for any unexpected changes) in the weeks to come.
Jan. 19: Clean Water Council submits recommendations to Legislature, governor
As required by state statute, the Clean Water Council has submitted its biennial recommendation to the legislature and Governor regarding how the state’s Clean Water Fund should be invested this session.
In total, the council’s FY 24-25 Clean Water Fund recommends $315 million in investments from the state’s Clean Water Fund toward water quality protection and restoration activities across the state. Included is $6 million for the continued development of clean-water crops coming out of the Forever Green Initiative.
The council’s full recommendations are available in detail here.
We expect legislation reflecting these recommendations to advance later in the 2023 legislative session.
Read more about the Clean Water Fund and the types of investments FMR supports here.
Jan. 6: Council finalizes recommendations for Clean Water Fund spending
The Minnesota Clean Water Council finalized its recommendations for how the state should spend money from the Clean Water Fund.
The council, at its Dec. 19 meeting, officially recommended a total of $314.7 million in Clean Water Fund investments over the next two years. Included in that total is $6 million for the continued development of clean-water crops, which is one of FMR's top priorities.
The completed FY24-25 recommendations will be released publicly by the Jan. 15 deadline.
Once that happens, we'll work with lawmakers, state agencies and other clean water stakeholders to ensure Clean Water Fund appropriations bills in the House and Senate adhere to the council's recommendations when those bills come forward later in the session.
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