Looking ahead to the 2019 legislature

by Trevor Russell
Water Action Day participants fill the state capitol rotunda. Join us and hundreds of others for this year's Water Action Day on April 10 as we lobby our lawmakers for clean water.

Minnesota’s 2019 legislative session is about to begin. Legislators will launch the session on January 8, concluding work on or before May 20. Here's a brief overview of what FMR and its partners will advocate for, who we'll work with and how you can help.

What's the agenda?

The first year of Minnesota’s two-year legislative cycle typically features development of a new state budget along with a wide variety of policy and finance bills. The session may also include some bonding (infrastructure investments) and will tackle how best to spend our state’s recently announced budget surplus.

On top of that, FMR and our water allies have developed an ambitious new legislative agenda for the session.

Our priority: The Minnesota Water Bill

This session, FMR and our coalition partners are teaming up to advance a new way forward for clean water in Minnesota: The Minnesota Water Bill. The Minnesota Water Bill seeks to set a clear and ambitious goal for clean water, paired with nonpartisan and realistically achievable policy and funding initiatives to help us get there.

The four-part bill includes the following:

  • Article One: Set Minnesota’s clean water goal
  • Article Two: common sense policy reforms
  • Article Three: Invest in clean water
  • Article Four: Restore our trust: Repeal the Trust Fund raid

This approach was developed by the Minnesota Water Cluster, a statewide coalition of water advocacy organizations.

Who’s in charge?

The 2018 election brought in some new leaders and shifted balance in our state government.

This legislative session marks the beginning of Governor-elect Tim Walz' first term after winning the 2018 election by 11.5 points over GOP opponent Jeff Johnson.

In the House, the DFL earned control following the fall elections and now hold a 16-seat majority in the chamber (75-59).

In the Senate, the GOP retained its narrow 1-seat majority (34-33) following a special election in Senate District 13 this fall. No other senators were up for election.

Committee structure

New House leadership comes with a new committee structure that puts a renewed focus on environment, climate and conservation issues.

The House will have separate committees on environmental policy and finance, as well as a subcommittee focusing specifically on water issues (something that FMR and our allies requested). Specific committees we’ll be monitoring this year include:

  • Environment & Natural Resources Finance (Chair: Rep. Rick Hansen)
  • Environment & Natural Resources Policy (Chair: Rep. John Persell)
  • Water Subcommittee (Chair: Rep. Peter Fischer)
  • Legacy Finance (Chair: Rep. Leon Lillie)
  • Agriculture & Food Finance and Policy (Chair: Rep. Jeanne Poppe)
  • Capital Investment / Bonding (Chair: Rep. Mary Murphy)
  • Ways & Means (Chair: Rep. Lyndon Carlson)

On the Senate side, not much has changed. (Senators are in the third year of a four-year term.) Specific Senate committees we’ll be monitoring this year include:

  • Environment and Natural Resources Policy & Legacy Finance (Chair: Sen. Carrie Ruud)
  • Environment & Natural Resources Finance (Chair: Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen)
  • Agriculture, Rural Development & Housing Finance (Chair: Sen. Torrey Westrom)
  • Agriculture, Rural Development & Housing Policy (Chair: Sen. Bill Weber)
  • Capital Investment / Bonding (Chair: Sen. David Senjem)
  • Finance (Chair: Sen. Julie Rosen)

Want to get involved?

Your voice is essential to our efforts to protect, restore and enhance the Mississippi River. Here are three ways you can keep up to date this legislative session and help us advocate for clean water in Minnesota.

Join us for Water Action Day

Save the date for ourthird annual Water Action Day on April 10, 2019. This is Minnesota's day to let our lawmakers know we care about our water.

This event will include free breakfast, followed by briefings on policy goals and trainings on how to influence your legislators.

Throughout the day, participants can attend group meetings with their legislators, participate in a youth summit, attend important hearings on our priority bills and join in the #ProtectOurWater rally in the Capitol Rotunda.

Registration will begin on January 15, 2019 on our event page. We look forward to seeing YOU at the Capitol on Water Action Day 2019!

Become a River Guardian

Sign up to become a River Guardian, and we'll email you when an important river issue arises and make it quick and easy to contact decision makers. River Guardians are also invited to special events, including happy hours, about important legislative and metro river corridor.

Read our Legislative Updates blog

FMR will once again offer regular updates on key environment and water quality issues on our legislative page. Check back for news, follow us on social media (Facebook and Twitter), or sign up for our bimonthly e-newsletter, Mississippi Messages.