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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

On Mn Statute 86B.13

Picking Apart MN 86B.13

Bob Bohland

The Minnesota Legislature passed a law involving invasive species that goes into effect January 1, 2015. While many elected official may think that something like this is the solution to the problem, the problem lies in the fact that elected officials know little to nothing about biology. Granted, there may be a few representatives that have a biology background, perhaps even fewer that have an environmental background, however, the majority voted on this (whether their vote be yay or nay) based on constituent feedback or even worse, political motivation.

So, here I sit, bored with nothing to do, and more than willing to pick apart every single part of this bill. And, it is just that, political legislation, not designed by biologists from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, but from elected officials. The same elected officials that just want it to appear that they are doing something, whether it be the right thing or not, to their constituents.

Here is the entire bill as it pertains to Minnesota law, effective January 1, 2105 with my notes beneath the subdivisions:


Subdivision 1.Establishment. The commissioner shall establish a statewide course in preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species. The commissioner must develop an educational course and testing program that address identification of aquatic invasive species and best practices to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species when moving water-related equipment, as defined under section 84D.01, subdivision 18a.

Of note, while the current commissioner (Tom Landwehr) is a fantastic individual for the position and has done more than his share of good for Minnesota's natural resources, the commissioner's office is politically appointed. While I am not entirely sure, at this time, what a better way to appoint a natural resources head would be; the fact that an elected official has the ability to put any chrony in charge of the most valuable thing the state of Minnesota has scares the hell out of me. The potential abuse of this power should concern everyone that hunts, fishes, or uses our public lands.

Subd. 1a.Training for offenders. A person who is convicted of or subject to a final order for a violation of chapter 84D involving water-related equipment must successfully complete the training course in subdivision 1 before continuing operation or use of water-related equipment.

So, the only fine/sentence for not complying with the law that requires you to take such a class and place a decal on your trailer would be to demand you take the class and place a decal on your trailer?

This is the equivalent of the police pulling someone over that does not have a driver's license and then telling them that they need to go take a course to get a driver's license. There is no bite in this law. Unless you are willing to punish the people that break this law, there is not a single person that will abide by it.

Subd. 2.Aquatic invasive species trailer decal. The commissioner shall issue an aquatic invasive species trailer decal for each trailer owned by a person that satisfactorily completes the required course of instruction.

Oh great, I really hope this will be different than the last trailer decal that the DNR was forced to issue to the public. How many thousands of dollars that could have been spent towards clean water initiatives, land acquisitions, or habitat rehabilitation were wasted on this boondoggle that was almost immediately scrapped?

Furthermore, this decal as the statute states is only needed for each individual trailer. In my family alone, there are more than 11 people with the capabilities to tow one of our boats. So only the primary owner of the boat needs to take this online class? What about children of the owner of the boat? So, the mother or father takes the class, gets the decal, and now the moron 16 year old-whatever child of theirs is immune to the rules of this new law unless by happenstance they get checked by one of the few Conservation Officers the state employs?

Subd. 3.Contracting for services. The commissioner may contract for services to provide training and testing services under this section.

The commissioner may... Well, since the Minnesota DNR doesn't really have the budget to employee a contingent of IT professionals that are able to set aside the GIS projects that are truly needed for this state; they will have to farm this out. Great, more money taken from the limited budget the DNR has to police the outdoors of this state, obtain new lands, and continue to improve existing lands.

Meanwhile, the legislators are demanding taxpayers build them a new office building that costs almost $100 million dollars. Let that sink in for a second. $100 MILLION DOLLARS!! Can you imagine what the environmental community could do for our resources in Minnesota with even half of that? This building wasn't even put to a vote for the general public.

Subd. 4.Aquatic invasive species trailer decal display required. (a) A person may not transport watercraft or water-related equipment, as defined under section 84D.01, subdivision 18a, with a trailer unless the person has an aquatic invasive species trailer decal issued under this section. Temporary authorizations valid for seven days can be requested by persons that have not completed the required course of instruction.

(b) Aquatic invasive species trailer decals are valid for three years.

(c) The aquatic invasive species trailer decal must be adhered to the side of the trailer frame tongue near the hitch in a manner that it is readily visible and does not interfere with the display of any registration requirements under section 169.79.

(d) Aquatic invasive species trailer decals are not transferable.

(e) Violation of this section shall not result in a penalty, but is punishable only by a warning.

Temporary authorizations for seven days? I am not sure about you, but in a good day, I can fish 4-7 lakes during open water when I am really searching out a pattern. On top of that, will this information be available to all potential tourists traveling in or through the state? Again, a new website, decal/license program will have to be created by the DNR to allow for these temporary authorizations, money that isn't coming from/nor added to by the state legislature.

Valid for three years, but not transferable? How are you able to prove that? According to every part of this statute the only thing that will be checked is the trailer decal. There will be no provision to place the proof that you completed this program on your driver's license like there is with Firearm's Safety, Snowmobile Safety, ATV Safety, etc.
And here we come to the most poignant part of this ridiculous statute: “Violation of this section shall not result in a penalty, but is punishable only by a warning.”

Really? So, we are gonna go through the trouble of passing this law at the expense of the taxpayers. Not just once though, we are also paying for when the legislators when they are in session voting on such a ridiculous bill, we are also paying for DNR enforcement of this new law (which amounts to nothing but shaking a finger at an offender), the cost to institute the online class for both residents of Minnesota and all the tourists, the cost to print the decals, etc. Keep in mind, that we already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on printing now defunct decals required by the same legislature be place on boats.

All this amounts to is a giant, “look, we tried to do something, don't blame us” from the Minnesota legislature. The funny thing is, that with all of the smoke and mirrors the Minnesota legislature works, all of the blame and shame will be passed on to the Department of Natural Resources. Keep in mind that there is a very large cost associated with this new law. Some of which will be forced onto the consumers of our state's natural resources, due to the fact that the DNR needs to hold some money back to actually do what they are supposed to do: protect and manage our outdoor community. The DNR does not stand to gain a dime off of this new law, at best, they will only have to eat half of the cost of this program. But, at what cost to the environment they are supposed to help protect?

Maybe, just maybe, it is time to take the responsibility of the greatest resource our state has out of the hands of people that received their positions based on empty promises and lies, and place them in the hands of the biologists, the natural resources professionals, and the nonprofits (Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, The Ruffed Grouse Society, Recycled Fish, etc.) that have spent their lives studying the science of protecting what we have, and what we need to protect to continue the legacy of outdoors the voters on Minnesota swore to protect with Constitutional Amendments passed in 1998 and again in 2008.

Another thing of note, these are the same people that set up the State Lottery for the protection of our natural resources. They then later amended this statement to include economic resources. Due to their pillaging and plundering only 6 cents of every dollar spent on lottery tickets is spent on natural resources, while according to the Mn Lottery website, "The remaining 60 percent of net proceeds is allocated to the state General Fund to pay for programs related to public education, health and human services, and public safety, among others."

60 PERCENT! The lottery was originally passed as something to fund the DNR and natural resources protection. This lottery started in 1989, and already they have found a way to take more than half of the proceeds from its original intent.

Repeal this stupid law, and hand the real punitive action to the people that actually and understand the science of it all.

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