Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka joined Governor Tim Walz and Speaker Melissa Hortman for a bill signing this morning. The legislation signed included HF861 to provide funding and set benchmarks for MNLARS, the licensing program plagued by challenges, and HF80, a $98 million dollar Bonding bill to fix funding for wastewater treatment projects, highway construction, and the urgently needed funding to address the leaking toxic waste pit in Andover.
Gazelka said of the bills, “These first bills are an important step to crossing the finish line at the end of session. I am proud that we could work together to see these legislative priorities become law. From wastewater treatment, highway construction, and car tabs, these challenges affected Minnesotans across the state. Today was the first of many steps to improve how government serves its citizens.”
With the Governor’s signature, HF80 clears the way for the projects to move forward. The 2018 bonding bill originally funded $98 million through appropriation bonds from the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund (ENRTF), administered by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR). This funding mechanism was under threat of a lawsuit and at the Governor’s request, the legislature began looking for alternative methods to fund the projects. Using General Obligation bonds in the 2019 bill allows work to begin as soon as it’s needed. All the projects in the 2018 bill were included in HF80, as well as additional funding to fully fund the Andover toxic waste pit. The full funding for the toxic waste pit in Andover was required for the contractor to begin work without having to re-bid the project. Additionally, the asphalt liner in the pit was leaking and posed a threat to area drinking water and the Mississippi River.
On the Andover waste pit, Senator Jim Abeler (R-Anoka) said, “Minnesota has made good on a bipartisan commitment to solve the most severe and dangerous pollution issue in the state. The Governor’s signature assures that this 47-year-old problem will be resolved once and for all. This puts an end to decades of stopgap solutions.” Abeler added, “This will ensure that residents of Andover and other surrounding communities have safe drinking water for years to come.”