Minn. House rejects some U research proposals

House members also opposed funding a lead ammunition education program.

Hannah Weikel

Minnesota House representatives turned down nine environment-related funding proposals Republican representatives said weren’t prudent during a committee meeting Thursday.
House Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee Representatives such as Rep. Tom Hackbarth, R-Cedar, moved to delete the proposals recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources  as part of the Environment and Natural Resources trust fund. 
The trust fund would total more than $46 million for 89 research, land acquisition and educational projects in Minnesota. 
Five of the nine removed projects came from University of Minnesota researchers and professors at the Twin Cities and Duluth campuses, including Assistant Professor and Raptor Center Executive Director Julia Ponder, who requested funding for a lead ammunition education program. 
Ponder introduced the proposal to the Legislature last year but said that her project was cut from the list, adding that she thinks Republican representatives assumed the project would be anti-hunting.
“Lead ammunition is a political topic, so this is a social-political issue, not a research issue,” Ponder said. “A lot of the other things that came out for the University were research issues, which … I have concerns about those, too.”
The funding for her proposal would go toward education on the toxicity of lead ammunition in humans and bald eagles, she said. 
“This is not an anti-hunting group, not a tree-hugger group,” Ponder said. “We have a very, very broad base on this proposal of hunters and conservationists that have come together to move this issue forward.”
Other rejected proposals included funding for climate change, water quality and solar energy research.
LCCMR Director Susan Thornton said those with rejected proposals were notified about the change the night before the 8 a.m. meeting.
The House replaced the nine removed projects with six others, Rep. Denny McNamara, R-Hastings, said. Though the new proposals weren’t submitted to LCCMR before its proposal period closed, some are likely to garner matching federal funding, he said.
“The projects we added were more suited for the state,” McNamara said, adding that there is already research and education about lead ammunition alternatives. 
The bill still hasn’t been viewed or amended by the state Senate, Thornton said, adding that both chambers must agree on the proposals’ funding before the bill can pass. 
“We’ve been deleted, but that’s just the House,” Ponder said.