Environmental fund challenged - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

By Fanna Haile-Selassie

Environmental fund challenged

St. Paul, MN (KTTC-DT) --

There's an effort in Saint Paul to redirect money allocated for environmental purposes to other state problems. The effort began in the house in Mid-march. Now environmental advocates are hoping the Senate will stop the change.

The Legislative Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources was formed in the 1980's to recommend environmental projects funded by an environmental trust fund, money constitutionally protected for strictly environmental projects.

The LCCMR, made up of legislators and citizens, recommended $25 million worth of projects this year that went un-opposed through legislative committees. It wasn't until the proposal was brought up on the House floor that lawmakers decided to change a portion of the bill and give $4 million to the DNR to improve park buildings and trails.

An amendment LCCMR vice co-chair says wasn't even requested by the DNR.

"They've asked the committee to come forward with the recommendations, and we've done all of that work. And they said, 'Well we kind of don't care what you say.' So, you know, that creates a little bit of a friction there, and it makes you wonder if partisan politics really works in Minnesota," says Jeffrey Broberg.

Broberg says he doesn't think the Senate will approve the house changes Tuesday. He also says there are many environmental groups that are watching the bills closely to make sure they do not pass any bills reallocating the money to non-environmental purposes.

Many environmental groups feel like lawmakers undermined the LCCMR. Just last week 42 different organizations signed a letter stating as such to state several lawmakers.

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