Preparations begin for the legislative session

Although the legislative session does not begin until January, GMPT has already started preparing for the next session. In early October, Chair Ben Anderson, Vice Chair Gina Hugo, and GMPT lobbyist Elizabeth Wefel met with Policy Analyst for Governor Walz, Joe Birkholz, to discuss a variety of parks and trails-related budget items.

Due to the tight timeframe between the election and the presentation of the governor’s budget to the Legislature, the incumbent governor’s staff and agencies traditionally begin working on the proposed budget months before the election. Although specifics of the budget may change after the election, much of the pre-work will be done in advance.

Our discussion focused on ensuring Greater Minnesota communities receive their fair share of Legacy dollars, the need to secure a stable source of funding for the Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission (GMRPTC), the importance of funding grants for local parks and trails, and the need to stop policies that significantly hinder park and trail development. The meeting was very positive, and we plan to continue working with the governor’s office on these issues.

Other commissions have been working on their legislative recommendations as well. The Clean Water Council (CWC) is an appointed body responsible for making recommendations on how the Legacy Clean Water Fund (CWF) should be spent, and several of the recommendations may be of interest to GMPT members. For example, $1 million is recommended for Watershed Partners Legacy grants for water quality improvement projects that protect and restore our waters. Additionally, a new Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) program has been recommended to develop a statewide portal for beach monitoring results, closures, and public health notifications. The Legislature typically adopts most of the council’s recommendations, although adjustments may be made.

If you have any questions regarding our legislative work, please contact Elizabeth Wefel at eawefel@flaherty-hood.com.