#MNLeg advances bill to grant itself approval over agency permit fees

A pair of bills (HF 2940 & SF 2637) have advanced at the legislature requiring legislative approval of certain Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) water-related fees.

These include fees for water and subsurface treatment personnel training, water supply system and wastewater treatment facility application review and certification, wastewater laboratory certification, and water permitting.

The bills are unnecessary, in part, because state law already limits fee collection.

Agencies are limited by law to only charge fees necessary to cover the costs of their work — developing, reviewing, and acting upon applications for permits, and implementing and enforcing the conditions of the permits.

In short, agencies use permit fees to cover the costs of administering the permits.

Allowing the Legislature to block fee increases (where the costs of administering those permits have increased) shortchanges the agencies and places the cost burden back on taxpayers.

Given the already historically low general fund support for environmental agency work, further nickel-and-diming of agency permit fees is both unwise and unnecessary.

FMR feels strongly that Legislative intervention in agency permitting activities undermines state agency authority and politicizes permitting decisions. We hope legislators and the Governor will respect our state agency work and leave their permit fee structure alone.

You can help!

Bad environmental bills like this one are why FMR needs your help to protect our waters.

• Join us on Water Action Day (May 2, 2018)

Perhaps the best way to help stop bad environmental bills this session is to join us for Water Action Day — our day of public action and advocacy to let lawmakers know we care about our water.

This all-day event will include free breakfast and morning briefings on Minnesota's water issues, followed by the #ProtectOurWater rally in the rotunda, and meetings with legislators throughout the day. You can sign up for all or part of the day, whatever works for you.

• Become a River Guardian 

Many of FMR's victories are thanks to our strong base of advocates. Sign up to become a River Guardian, and we'll email you when an important river issue arises and make it quick and easy to contact decision makers. River Guardians are also invited to special events, including happy hours, about important legislative and metro river corridor issues. 

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