The bill — debated for eight hours and then passed just before midnight on Tuesday — now must be reconciled with a similar bill advancing in the Senate before going on to the governor to be signed into law.

The Minnesota House of Representatives has passed the 2023 Environment, Natural Resources, Climate and Energy Budget Bill on a party-line vote of 69-59.

The bill — debated for eight hours and then passed just before midnight on Tuesday — now must be reconciled with a similar bill advancing in the Senate before going on to the governor to be signed into law.

The bill adds restrictions and toughens requirements for deer farms and transfers their authority to the Department of Natural Resources in an effort to reduce the spread of chronic wasting disease among wild deer.

It also provides $4 million over the next two years for the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa to work with the DNR to move wild elk from northwestern Minnesota to Carlton and southern St. Louis counties, what would be the region’s first wild elk in 150 years.

More than $670 million in new funding, fee hikes

The bill, authored by Rep. Rick Hansen, DFL-South St. Paul, invests more than $670 million in new funding above previous levels spent for the environment and natural resources. It funds the Department of Natural Resources, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Board of Water and Soil Resources, as well as the Metropolitan Council Parks, Conservation Corps, Minnesota Zoo and the Science Museum of Minnesota.

Most of the new money comes from the state’s current budget surplus. But the bill also includes both fishing license and state park admission fee increases, which the governor and DNR had asked for to bolster revenue after the surplus is used up.

A last-minute amendment would prohibit the DNR from holding a wolf hunting or trapping season if the animal ever comes off the federal endangered species list. Current law would allow the agency to conduct a hunt if they saw fit. Another provision would allow the use of inline muzzle-loading rifles during the state’s muzzleloader deer hunting season.

Another amendment added would double the state restitution fee charged to wildlife law violators if the act is committed in a malicious manner. The restitution for a deer in those cases would jump from $500 to $1,000 per animal. The amendment is a reaction to public outcry over an Ely case in March where a man admitted to intentionally running down three deer with his truck.

Funding to address emerald ash borer, aquatic invasive species, PFAS chemicals

The bill includes tens of millions of dollars for parks and trails, reforestation, to acquire wildlife habitat, rebuild a state fish hatchery and repair or replace outdoor facilities statewide and is believed to be the largest outdoor bill ever, both in policy changes and money for state agencies and state outdoor facilities and land acquisition.

“We’re trying to make up for a lot of years of nothing passing, of stalemate” between Democrats and Republicans, Hansen said. “It’s the largest investment into protecting our environment ever in our state’s history.”

The bill includes $93 million for replanting trees and responding to emerald ash borer, the invasive tree-killing insect, and $6.6 million to address aquatic invasive species. The bill includes a PFAS “forever chemical” prevention package, with multiple pieces of legislation setting water standards and banning non-essential PFAS from a variety of consumer products.

A provision reestablishing the citizen’s board of the MPCA while rules tightening air pollution were limited to the Twin Cities metro area, as was a provision creating a metro trumpeter swan protection zone where small lead fishing tackle could be restricted.

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