Committee's bill would realign Minn. environmental departmentsby Tom Robertson, Minnesota Public Radio
Bemidji, Minn. — The Minnesota Senate Environment and Natural Resources Policy Committee met in Bemidji Friday to hear feedback on a bill that would overhaul management of the DNR and other state agencies.
The bill would realign six agencies and five departments that deal with natural resources and the environment. The goal is to streamline the DNR, the Pollution Control Agency, the Environmental Quality Board and other entities that have overlapping jurisdiction.
Sen. Mary Olson of Bemidji authored the bill, and said it could save the state money and make government more efficient.
"Over the history of our state, we've developed many layers of natural resources management," Olson said. "And now with the financial pressures we have I think now is an ideal time to take a step back and see it we can do things in a more efficient and actually more effective way."
Sen. Satveer Chaudhary of Fridley chairs the committee and supports the bill. Chaudhary said many agencies and departments have overlapping jurisdictions that create inefficiencies.
"I have a directive from the majority leader of the Minnesota Senate that the intent to begin the process on improving our natural resource functions this session is dead serious," Chaudhary said. "Maybe we don't turn the institution on its head this session, but we want to begin."
Olson's bill would create an advisory committee to explore a new management structure for dealing with natural resource policies.