Lawmakers debated an alphabet soup of environmental and outdoors issues, including CWD, EAB and AIS, as well as passionate issues like wolf hunting.
Some are headed to the desk of Gov. Tim Walz; others aren’t.
Here are some of them and their fates.
Lawmakers were unable to reach agreement on any significant changes to energy policies. A host of initiatives pushed by both parties failed. A Walz plan to rid the state of fossil-fuel electricity by 2050 won’t reach his desk. Democrats’ hopes to expand solar gardens — and Republicans’ hopes to rein some in — both failed to emerge. Similarly, Democratic notions of encouraging electric vehicles and Republican ideas to hike taxes on those same vehicles also ran out of gas.
Wolf hunting ban fails
An attempt led by House Democrats to permanently ban wolf hunting passed the House by one vote but failed to gain traction in the Senate and ultimately was not included in legislation to Walz, who had indicated he would sign it.
Gray wolves are currently on the federal endangered species list and can’t be killed for any reason other than to protect human life.
Chronic wasting disease
Lawmakers approved a compromise plan to address the spread of chronic wasting disease in the state’s captive and wild whitetail deer populations.
The plan calls for increased regulations of deer and elk farms, including more fencing, mandatory killing of captive herds when CWD-infected deer are found, and increased fees, inspections and penalties for non-compliance. A network of “adopt-a-Dumpster” locations would provide hunters a safe place to dispose of deer carcasses, and hunters would be prohibited from bringing deer and elk they killed out-of-state into Minnesota. Also, a $1.8 million grant would go toward the University of Minnesota to develop the first-ever CWD test for live animals.
Higher AIS boat fees
To bolster funds to combat the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS), the Legislature approved increasing a $5 boat registration fee to $10.60 over several years.
A perennial attempt to allow anglers to fish with two fishing rods during the open-water season passed the Senate but failed to gain enough support in the House and will not be heading toward Walz’s desk.
Minnesota could have a state bee. under a measure approved by the Legislature, the rusty-patched bumblebee would join the ranks of the walleye and loon among the state’s official fauna. However, efforts to further protect the pollinator by listing it as endangered failed to emerge from a compromise.
Attempts by Democrats to phase out the use of TCE, or trichloroethylene, a carcinogenic chemical, fell short of being approved in the final legislation. The measure was inspired by the yearslong releases of TCE into the air from Water Gremlin, a fishing weight and battery terminal maker in White Bear Township.
In measures heading toward Walz’s desk: Meat processors would see an increase to $150 from $70 in state reimbursement for each hunter-killed deer donated to the venison donation program; turkey hunters would be allowed to use a muzzleloading shotgun; and night vision goggles would be allowed for hunting coyotes and foxes.
The Legislature approved promoting burbot and cisco, or tullibee, to the list of official “game fish,” and directing the Department of Natural Resources to develop a “curriculum” for nonprofit groups to help high school fishing leagues.
Other outdoors stuff
Other provisions approved by lawmakers include increasing the cost of cross-country ski passes and encouraging youth getting outdoors via $500,000 in grants to a “No Child Left Inside” program to schools to add firearms safety, trap shooting, archery, hunting and fishing in gym class.