Minnesota Legislative Session Ends on time

Bruce Kleven, MTGA Lobbyist

The 2024 regular session of the Minnesota legislature adjourned at approximately 12:00 a.m. on the evening of Sunday, May 19.  The time and date of adjournment is set forth in the Minnesota State Constitution.  This session was shorter than the 2023 session, which was the longer, budget setting year of the bi-ennium.  Governor Walz and legislative leaders agreed to an overall supplemental budget of $477.5 million for the 2024 session.  This figure follows the primary two-year state budget that was set last year in the amount of $72 billion.  Of that amount, the ag committees had an additional $4.545 million to spend this year while the environment committees had an additional $17 million.  Below are some of the issues the MTGA was supporting, opposing, or monitoring this year:


The top priority for the MTGA this year was passing a bill establishing grant program for poultry producers to install deterrents, such as lasers, decoys, and noise makers, to keep wild birds away from commercial poultry farms to help combat the spread of avian influenza.  This bi-partisan legislation was authored by Senate Ag Committee Chair Aric Putnam (D-St. Cloud) and long-time MTGA member and past president Representative John Burkel (R-Badger).  The DFL controlled Senate included $300,000in its omnibus supplemental budget bill for the program while the House Democrats provided $0.  Ultimately, a House-Senate conference committee agreed on $225,000 for the coming year with a20% match on the part of the producer. Senator Putnam was the driving force behind passing this legislation.  The MTGA strongly supported this bill.


Legislation was passed this year that will require a person who applies manure in a Level 2 or higher drinking water supply management area(DWSMA) to follow a manure management plan. A DWSMA is an area of land containing a wellhead protection area and is outlined by clear boundaries, such as roads or property lines.  A DWSMA is typically managed by a city through a wellhead protection plan.  The manure management plan must include the Department of Agriculture’s recommended best management practices for that DWSMA.  The MTGA was neutral on this bill.


House Democrats passed a bill this year that would require any new livestock operation with over10,000 animal units to complete an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).  Current law requires any proposed livestock operation that is 1,000 animal units or more to complete an Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW).  An EIS is a much more in-depth and comprehensive level of environmental review than an EAW.  A Senate committee heard but did not pass the companion bill.  Ultimately the language was dropped in a conference committee and it did not pass this year.  The MTGA monitored this bill.


A bill establishing an Office of Animal Protection was heard in a House committee and a Senate committee this year but ultimately was not adopted.  The intent behind the bill is to address animal cruelty in a more comprehensive and centralized manner by creating an Office of Animal Protection within the Department of Public Safety.  Advocates believe that animal cruelty is linked to human violence and criminal activity and this bill is designed to provide uniform training across the state.  The $350,000 appropriation in the bill is the main reason it did not pass this year. The MTGA monitored this bill.


Perhaps most unusual bill to be considered in the House Ag Committee this year was carried by Committee Chair Representative Samantha Vang(D-Brooklyn Center).  The bill prohibited bird hatching projects as part of a lesson or experimental study in a class or program, including a community education program, or in any cocurricular activity or extracurricular activity.  The prohibition applied to both public and charter schools, but not to private schools. During the House Ag Committee debate, the bill was amended to apply to waterfowl only (ducks and geese) so that chick hatching projects could continue.  The bill was universally opposed by agriculture groups because it would eliminate an effective method of teaching school children about the beginning of life.  The bill was initially laid over possible inclusion in the omnibus ag finance bill but was not passed by the Committee.  The MTGA opposed this bill.


This fall, all 134 seats in the Minnesota House will be up for election while the office of the Governor and the seats in the Minnesota Senate will not.  The next regular legislative session is set to begin at noon on Tuesday, January 14, 2025.