Capitol Watch, March 9, 2009
IN THIS ISSUE:
The 2009 version of the "Battle of the Budget" is now officially underway at the Minnesota Legislature. This week the Minnesota Department of Finance delivered the long-awaited February forecast, projecting Minnesota's biennial budget deficit for fiscal years 2010-2011. While the magnitude of the projected budgetary problems for Minnesota has worsened in recent months, increasing to $6.4 billion from a projected $4.8 billion in November 2008, federal stimulus dollars totaling approximately $1.8 billion can be used to reduce the deficit to $4.57 billion. State economists project a severe recession through 2009, with potentially 120,000 unemployed Minnesotans by 2010. The combined loss of tax revenues due to struggling businesses and declining employment have contributed to a reduction of $1.16 billion in anticipated tax receipts to state coffers.
Update on the Minnesota Clean Car Bill
California Clean Car legislation (or “tailpipe” legislation) is currently being debated in committee at the Minnesota State Capitol. If passed into law, Minnesota would join fourteen other states that have voluntarily chosen to abide by the California Low Emissions Vehicle II (“CA LEV II”) standard. CA LEV II requires auto manufacturers to install different catalytic converters and other pollution control equipment on vehicles. If adopted, the Clean Car standard would be imposed on all vehicles sold in Minnesota beginning in model year 2013. As of that date, residents would be required to buy California certified vehicles. Whether it is a good idea to apply special rules on Minnesota vehicles is open for interpretation. Some say no, but others argue it is essential for reducing our state’s carbon footprint.
The Use of Buffers - At What Point Does a Buffer Become a Taking?
Julie L. Perrus discusses the balancing act between property rights and environmental protection in the use of wetland and shoreland buffers in the February issue of Minnesota Real Estate Journal.
Health Related Licensure Bills Moving Forward
States have the authority to require licensure for specific professions in order to protect the health, safety and welfare of their citizens. Licensure laws involve: defining the practice of the licensed profession; restricting non-licensees from using the licensed title or practicing the licensed act; and limiting this practice to those who have met the “three E’s of licensure” which generally includes attainment of a prescribed level of education, experience in the chosen field, and successful passage of an examination.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions
It is clear that some Minnesota legislators are serious about reducing greenhouse gas emissions in ways that will impact not only industry, but also the daily lives of citizens. Greenhouse gas reductions through better land use planning was the topic of last week’s House Environment Policy and Oversight Committee hearing on H.F. 898. The bill, authored by Representative Frank Hornstein of Minneapolis, would require changes in many areas relating to land planning to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
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