Summer 2015 Legislative News

By Deborah Swackhamer 

There is good news for the Water Resources Research Institute program coming out of Washington – the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee are both recommending full funding of the WRRI program at $6.5 million. While a final appropriations bill is a long ways off, it is reassuring to see the recommendations coming from both chambers.

 In other good news, the Senate has reauthorized our enabling legislation, the Water Resources Research Act, by unanimous consent. We hope this will inspire the House to also reauthorize the program.

There were a number of water-related actions from the Minnesota Legislative session that just ended by special session last week. The Environment and Agriculture Bill was vetoed by the Governor at the end of the regular session, and the Legacy Bill did not pass during the final minutes of the regular session – both were passed during the special session, with changes made to the former. The big changes include Governor Dayton’s “buffer initiative”, which will require buffers for all public waters public ditches in Minnesota, the dissolution of the MPCA Citizens Board, the suspension of enforcement of the sulfate water quality standard until the new standard is approved, and the exemption of the sulfide mining industry waste from solid waste rules.