Save Trout in the Classroom – call your LegislatorsJade Thomason
The Legislature now looks disturbingly close to ending its session without passing a LCCMR appropriation bill. If it fails to act this year and respect the LCCMR vetting process, our outdoor education program will cease.
The Senate passed its version of the LCCMR appropriation bill HF 3765 yesterday, but it substitutes many projects never heard by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR) in place of well-vetted projects such as ours. The House and Senate have only a few days to resolve their differences and pass a bill that respects the LCCMR process.
Please call or email your legislators and legislative leadership in the next 36 hours and urge passage of a LCCMR appropriation bill this year, and that only includes projects that were reviewed by the LCCMR.
Calls will have the greatest impact.
Who to contact:
1. Your State Senator: Just enter your address in the box on this MN Legislative search tool:
https://www.gis.lcc.mn.gov/iMaps/districts/ Click the “Contact” button next to your senator’s name. His/her phone number will appear below their senate address. Dial the number.
2. Your House member: Just enter your address in the box on this MN Legislative search tool:
https://www.gis.lcc.mn.gov/iMaps/districts/ Click the “Contact” button next to your Representative’s name. His/her phone number will appear below their House address. Dial the number.
3. Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller: 651-296-5649
4. House Speaker Melissa Hortman: 651-296-4280
What to say:
Please pass a LCCMR appropriations bill this session, and that only includes projects that were vetted by the LCCMR.
Be respectful, but firm. Introduce yourself as a constituent. Leave a voice message if you get a recording. Feel free to explain that failure to pass a good bill this year will mean that MNTU’s outdoor education project will end, our great education staff will be out of work, and 60 classrooms set adrift without support.
Minnesotans passed a constitutional amendment creating the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund (ENRTF). This fund has been an enormous success – putting projects on the ground that restore and protect natural spaces, conducting scientific research, fighting climate change, and educating the next generation. In the interest of fairness and to ensure the best use of funds the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR) was created. This group of citizens and lawmakers carefully vets each project proposal to make sure projects fit the goals that Minnesotans intended for the Trust Fund, then recommend the best to the Legislature.
This year the LCCMR arrived at two very similar packages that a majority supported, but not a supermajority of 12. Both versions contained funding to operate MNTU’s Trout in the Classroom program for two years. The Senate bill began as one version but was amended to strip out 25 environmental projects vetted by the LCCMR in order to make “budget space” for 19 unvetted projects traditionally paid for with General Funds. MNTU’s outdoor education program was one of those 25 worthy projects removed.
The House passed its good version (HF 3765) in April. The bad Senate version of the LCCMR appropriations bill (HF 3765, 2nd Unofficial Engrossment) passed on Wednesday May 18. The differences must be resolved in a “conference committee” and the compromise re-passed by both bodies before May 23! Key decisions will be made by Saturday.
The concern is that, due to all the bad changes by the Senate, finding a compromise will be so challenging that an LCCMR appropriations bill will not get passed this session at all. If this happens, MNTU’s outdoor education program featuring “Trout in the Classroom” and hands-on streamside learning will end. Our great educators will move on to other employers. Our summer fishing skills clinics, which are organized by our TIC staff, will cease after August 2022. Efforts to secure large private grants and donations to keep the program going have not been successful. In short, the Legislature must pass a bill this year (not next) or our successful program will end.
Calls before Saturday are essential to apply pressure on the Legislature.
Thank you for taking a few minutes to foster the next generation of conservationists!