The 2024 Legislative Session will be short this year, starting February 12th and ending May 20th, a little over three months. Last year the Minnesota Legislature focused on our Biennial Budget. In 2024 legislators will be more focused on policy proposals.
MLR and our partners had a very productive session last year. Passing policy is only the first step. There can be a lot of work to ensure that the new statutes are fully satisfied. Much of our focus next session will be working with state agencies and Local Government Units, LGUs on implementation of laws passed last year.
Will will be particularly focused on ensuring that language passed in previous years is brought to fruition. There are five major bills of importance we are tracking:
- Port of Entry AIS Inspection
- In 2014, MLR pushed for a border AIS inspection similar to the programs in many western states. The MN Legislature responded by requiring the MN Department of Transportation to work with the MN Department of Natural Resources to draft a proposal to inspect watercraft and water related equipment at the port of entries into Minnesota. No report was ever issued
- Boater Education and Certification
- Last session the Legislature required the MN DNR to meet with stakeholders to create a proposal for a watercraft operators education and certification program. Both the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center and Saint Anthony Falls Lab can provide data to create Best Practices to prevent the spread of AIS and wake and prop-thrust respectively.
- Mandatory Decontamination of Infested Watercraft
- One gap in MN’s AIS program was that a level two DNR AIS inspector or police officer could only order a decontamination if a decontamination unit was available on the boat access. Last year MLR was able to convince the legislature to remove this language, thereby opening the door for a much cheaper and more effective AIS Decontamination program.
- Coordinated 5-Year Plan
- In addition to the MN DNR, MN’s AIS program includes Tribal Programs, County Programs and Lake Association AIS programs. To date the MN DNR has never convened representatives of these various players. The result has been a lack of communication, coordination and cooperation. Last session the Legislature required the MN DNR to do this work an present a 5 – Year plan. So far no action has been taken.
MLR will continue to work to see that all of the above are brought to a fruitful conclusion.
These are MLR’s other areas of focus for the 2024 legislative Session, broken out by content area but not in order of importance:
- Increase AIS fines
- Provide reliable ongoing funding for local AIS management grants, ($1.4 million) including aquatic plant survey work, treatment and mapping.
- Increase the AIS surcharge on a three year boat license to provide funding for the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center, local (lake association) AIS prevention and management programs.
- Solution for market driven assessment and subsequent property tax increases on riparian properties,
- Removal of Seasonal Recreational property from State General Tax,
- Sustainable Shoreline Incentive Act – SSIA to provide an incentive for good shoreline management,
- Require Assessors to include lost land revenue from Conservation Easement.
- Address Short term rental language.
Lake Ecological Health
- Science-based wake mitigation rules to prevent user conflict, ecological damage and increase public safety.
- Streamline and enhance the MN DNR lake management permitting process to make it more effective, more efficient and less time consuming
- Support for increasing natural shorelines to prevent nutrient runoff into lakes.
- Funding for research into Harmful Algae Blooms, HAB’s
- Funding for climate impacts on freshwater ecosystems.