After months of public meetings and negotiations, the final details of the state’s biennial budget were worked out by the Governor and legislative leaders from both parties in closed-door meetings. The group met at all hours during the final week of the regular session to negotiate the details of the state budget.
Less controversial budget bills were passed on May 21st and early on May 22nd, the final day of the regular session. Leaders emerged late on May 22nd with an agreement to have a special session where details on HHS, E-12 Education, State Government, Taxes, Transportation, and Bonding would be determined. It took the legislature four additional days of special session, but a full budget along with bills for Taxes, Transportation, and Bonding were passed.
The bonding bill was the last bill of the session to pass, at 2:30am in the House and 2:45am in the Senate on the morning of May 26. After the difficulty and stress of the special session, this final vote happened quickly and with little debate. I was pleased however, when in presenting the bill in the Senate, Sen. Senjem included in his comments that the St. Louis River estuary project was an important project and he was glad it was in the bill.
On May 30 amid much drama, the Governor signed the major bills of the session, including the bonding bill.
SLRA hosted a “Celebration of a Brilliant Future” on July 20th, 2017 at Pier B Resort for the Clean Water Campaign Coalition Supporters. Many of the folks who played important roles in securing the money, who are also implementing and monitoring the remediation, were in attendance. Two very special guest came out to celebrate: Mayor Larsen of the City of Duluth and Mayor Paine of the City of Superior. Thank you to everyone who made this extraordinary success possible!
St. Louis River Fully Funded: Among the projects in the $990 million bonding bill is the full $25.4 million to fund the St. Louis River cleanup project. Legislators from across the state pushed hard in the final days not just to have the project included, but to fully fund it. The following legislators played important roles in getting the bill across the finish line:
- Rep. Alice Hausman was absolutely critical in making sure the project received full funding in the final negotiations. She is the DFL lead on Capital Investment.
- Reps. Jennifer Schultz, Liz Olson, Mary Murphy and Rob Ecklund, Sen. Erik Simonson and Sen. Ann Rest were directly involved in convincing fellow legislators of the project’s importance at every juncture this session.
- Rep. Dean Urdahl and Sen. David Senjem authored the final bonding bill in their respective chambers.
- Reps. Mary Murphy, Paul Torkelson, Rick Hansen, David Bly, Bob Gunther, Jean Wagenius, Jason Rarick, and Mike Sundin were co-authors on the House bill to fund the project.
- Sens. Erik Simonson, Carrie Ruud, David Senjem and Tony Lourey were co-authors on the Senate bill to fund the project.
Of course, Governor Mark Dayton, MPCA Commissioner Stine and MMB Commissioner Myron Frans played a huge role in recommending, supporting and advocating the full amount of $25.4 million be included in the final bill.
This broad range of bi-partisan leadership is a testament to the value of the project and the advocacy work, partnerships, of the St. Louis River Alliance. You should be proud of this accomplishment.
For more information on the Clean Water Campaign and how you can help, please contact Kris@stlouisriver.org or give us a call at 218-733-9520.
For more details of contaminated sediment management sites click the link here.
Clean Water Campaign Cover Photo “Running Wild” courtesy of John Heino