consultants are sandburs

Friday, April 28, 2017

Breaking the promise of Minnesota's Legacy Amendment.

A reader forwarded to me an email from:

Paul Austin
Executive Director
Conservation Minnesota
1101 West River Parkway, Suite 250, Minneapolis, MN, 55415 US

The item is online, here, stating in part:

When the Minnesota Legislature is in session, we make a point to keep an eye out to see what local news organizations are saying about Capitol activities. Recently the St. Cloud Times wrote an editorial, and it is the best summary that I have seen of the ways that the legislature is ignoring the values of Minnesotans and breaking the promise of the Legacy Amendment this session.

Our state currently has a $1.6 billion budget surplus. We also have communities with water that is too polluted for residents to drink and 40% of our lakes and rivers that don’t meet water quality standards. It makes no sense to slash funds and undermine polices that support the clean water, wildlife, parks and natural resources that are so important to our health, our economy, and our quality of life. Minnesotans have made this point clearly at the ballot box every time they have been asked.

Take a look at the article:

"Despite Constitution, legislators attack environment
By: Times Editorial Board, St. Cloud Times - April 22, 2017"

From the close of the Conservation Minnesota post:

About Paul Austin
Paul Austin has 23 years of public service as an elected leader, advocate and political strategist, Paul Austin brings a rare combination of skills and experience to his position as Executive Director. At age 25, Paul was elected Mayor of Clinton, Connecticut – the youngest in state history. Paul has served as Executive Director of Conservation Minnesota since 2004.

With readers strongly urged to read the St. Cloud Times Editorial in full, it is only briefly quoted here:

In the past 60-plus years, Minnesotans have been asked five times through constitutional amendments if and how much they value the state's natural resources. Every time their answer has been loud and clear and the same: Yes, a lot!

Yes, we want to establish (and financially sustain) a Minnesota Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund. Yes, we want to guarantee our right to hunt and fish. And most recently, yes, we will even raise our own taxes for 25 years to protect water resources, enhance natural habitat and support parks and trails.

The collective message to legislators is crystal clear: Preserving and protecting Mother Nature is a — perhaps even the — top Minnesota priority.

[...] Obvious attacks

Make no mistake. Proposals rooted solidly in Republican House and Senate majorities undoubtedly aim to weaken, even remove, scores of rules, regulations, public-input processes and funding put in place to uphold the very values Minnesotans have placed through the state Constitution on the state's natural resources. Among the easy-to-see examples: [... see original for listing detail]

There also is a push to curb or even eliminate the Environmental Quality Board, which for almost a half-century has served as a centerpoint for managing water resources while ensuring the public has a voice in those issues. Could that board be reformed or made better? Probably. Should it be neutered or eliminated? No.

[...] What's it going to take to show these legislators Minnesotans value — and are willing to pay for — clean air, water and land?

We'd say a constitutional amendment. But that's already been done — five different times! — and these legislators apparently don't think those votes matter.

The devil always is in details; and if you believe the editorial board judges legislative intentions harshly, do read the entire item and consider what voters did in amending our Minnesota Constitution and how that is being honored in the breach. If you've a legislator to write or phone, where you think it might make a difference, please do that. It would take you less time than it took to prepare this blog post.

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