Commentary: Don't pollute dedicated clean water money
ST. PAUL -- In this year's session of the Legislature, there are a few big issues that enjoy bipartisan support among Minnesotans. One issue that both Democrats and Republicans are making a priority is dedicated funding for conservation and clean...
ST. PAUL -- In this year's session of the Legislature, there are a few big issues that enjoy bipartisan support among Minnesotans. One issue that both Democrats and Republicans are making a priority is dedicated funding for conservation and clean water.
There are differing proposals on how to get this done, such as dedicating a portion of or adding on to the state sales tax and reclaiming lottery proceeds for dedicated funding, which we proposed a few weeks ago.
While proposals differ, many conservation and hunting and fishing groups agree Minnesota's outdoor resources need dedicated funding so we can continue to enjoy them. A majority of the Legislature and the governor have also shown their support for dedicated funding.
After years of decreased commitment by the state for environmental funding, this looked to be the year where both sides came together to enact significant legislation that would have a considerable impact on our valuable natural resources.
This is why we were disappointed when a House committee voted to tie divisive issues to dedicated funding. We won't get into the specifics of how and why, but the House Taxes Committee attached two constitutional amendments to a dedicated funding plan; one was a transportation funding provision that pits metro and outstate lawmakers and constituents against each other, and the other is a controversial amendment about gay marriage.
While issues deserve debate here at the Legislature, attaching them like ornaments on a tree onto an unrelated bill is not responsible. If some lawmakers continue to play politics with a vital issue like Minnesota's environment, we'll miss another opportunity to do the right thing.
As we mentioned, there are other proposals for dedicated funding still available for consideration and the controversial constitutional additions can still be removed in another committee.
Whatever the final plan we vote on to send to the voters, the bottom line is to have a bill that dedicates funding to clean up our lakes and rivers and is free of divisive unrelated issues. Now is the time we can come together and give Minnesota a true clean water legacy for generations to come.
Frank Moe, DFL-Bemidji, and Rick Hansen, DFL-South St. Paul, are both first-term members of the Minnesota House.