2015 Legislative Recap
The regular 2015 legislative session has come to an end and it is almost certain that Governor Dayton will convene a special session. While we are pleased to have achieved some of our policy goals, we are disappointed that this year truly turned out to be a session of missed opportunities to protect our environment and safeguard public health.
Despite the disappointment, the legislature acted favorably on the Firefighter and Children’s Health Protection Act, a bill that requires a study on the effects of six flame retardants by January, 2016 and bans four of the most toxic flame retardants from being used in upholstered furniture and children’s products. The legislature also approved $1 million in funding for Forever Green, an initiative to accelerate development of cover crops and perennial crops that protect water quality and enhance wildlife habitat. We also helped pass favorable language for the Buffer Initiative, a policy that will protect our water resources by requiring a 50 foot buffer for public waters by November 2017 and a 16.5 foot buffer for public ditches by November, 2018. Read more.
Great Lakes Lobby Day in DC
In early March, the Great Lakes came to the Nation’s Capital. The Annual Great Lakes Day is a gathering of Great Lakes advocates from across the region, who bring their love and passion for the Great Lakes to Members of Congress. Clean Water Action helped recruit and organize the Minnesota delegation of nearly a dozen community members, local government officials, and business owners.
Recent action by the U.S. House could significantly hinder Great Lakes protection and restoration efforts. A House panel has voted to slash funding for the popular and effective Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (80% cuts), for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to upgrade aging water infrastructure (83% cuts), and for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (60%+ cuts).
Minnesota U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum led efforts to block these cuts but was unable to stop them. If the cuts take effect, communities would face immediate harm, and cleanup costs would increase as necessary clean water investments are delayed.