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Clean water fund continues to prioritize work to comply with Clean Water Act.
(Published May 28, 2013)
The legacy bill (Chapter 137) allocates the money from constitutionally dedicated sales tax funds targeted to environmental and cultural programs. The legislation was surprisingly controversial this session and was not completed until the final day of the legislative session.
Most of the controversy centered on the balance of park funding between metro and non-metro areas of the state and on how closely the Legislature would follow the recommendations of advisory groups tied to the various accounts. Gov. Dayton eventually vetoed two large appropriations from the outdoor heritage fund that went against the recommendations of the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council.
The clean water fund portion of the bill funds state agencies to continue to make progress on meeting federal Clean Water Act requirements for identifying and cleaning up impaired lakes, rivers, and streams. While early versions of the bill removed large amounts of funding from on-the-ground efforts to address non-point pollution, the final agreement restored a great deal of those funds. Cities will receive access to $22 million per year in grants for meeting wastewater and stormwater environmental requirements triggered by these clean-up plans.
In addition, two important policy provisions were included. One bans the use of coal-tar based paving sealants effective January 2014. Previously, those products were banned for state agency use, and cities had to enact local bans to be able to get state financial assistance to clean out stormwater ponds contaminated with chemicals heavily coming from these sealants being used on driveways and parking lots.
Also, the state will again work on rules to update the land use rules in the Mississippi River Critical Corridor Area, which encompasses 1,500 feet on each side of the river for its entire length through the metropolitan area. The last attempt at these rules failed to be completed before the 18-month timeline for state rule authority expired. The statutes guiding that process were amended to remove restrictive definitions, to make the process far more flexible, and to preserve existing property uses and local planning priorities as much as possible. The 18-month limit has been waived, so these rules can be worked on until they are completed.
A more detailed summary of the spending and policy provisions of this legislation will appear in the League’s 2013 Law Summaries.
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Contact Craig Johnson
(651) 281-1259 or (800) 925-1122
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