Working to protect the Mississippi River and its watershed in the Twin Cities area

Looking ahead to the 2014 Minnesota legislative session

The 2014 legislative session is just around the corner in Minnesota. While Governor Dayton and legislators have promised a short session, there is still important work to be done to protect our freshwater resources.

In 2014, FMR will once again work with our coalition partners through the Minnesota Environmental Partnership to address three reforms critical to our clean water future:

  • Investing in innovative, sustainable crop development through the University of Minnesota’s Forever Green Initiative,
  • Re-establishing Minnesota’s Legislative Water Commission, and
  • Phasing-out the triclosan-contamination to Minnesota’s surface waters

Forever Green Initiative

Agricultural runoff remains the largest source of pollution to Minnesota’s surface waters. Minnesota’s cropland is dominated by corn and soybean production, which can be prone to excessive nutrient loss and erosion while providing little to no habitat or climate benefits. The state needs additional funding to develop cover crops and perennial crops that protect soil health and water quality while maximizing economic return for producers.

Legislative Water Commission

Minnesota lacks an adequate venue for vetting water-related legislative and administrative initiatives with an informed group of bi-partisan legislators that understand surface and groundwater issues, funds, programs, and governance. Re-establishment of Minnesota’s Legislative Water Commission will create a venue for vetting clean water policy and administrative initiatives with an informed group elected officials that can meet year-round and address high priority clean water issues throughout the state.

Triclosan

Triclosan, a chemical additive in some personal care products, breaks down to form dangerous dioxins in our surface waters. These dioxins have increased by 200-300% since triclosan-based products were first developed. Despite the Minnesota Department of Health’s recommendations against using products that contain triclosan, triclosan-based personal care products are still sold statewide.

Our 2014 legislation will phase out the sale of triclosan-based personal care and household consumer products by July 2015.

In the mean time, consumers should follow the recommendations of the Minnesota Department of Health and avoid products that contain triclosan. Wash hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand rub. For more information on products that contain triclosan, take a look at this month’s “resource of the month.”

Other Issues

During the session, we also anticipate advocating for bonding investments that protect clean water, and will monitor multiple water-related policy proposals. We know that clean, safe water is important to Minnesota’s families, communities, and economy. FMR readers should expect updates on key policy issues throughout the session.