Legislative Update: E15 bill passes House, Senate Ag Committees

(MCGA member and former board member Bruce Peterson testified on behalf of MCGA in support of the bill last week)

By Amanda Bilek, senior public policy director for the Minnesota Corn Growers Association

It was a big week in St. Paul for the top legislative priority for the Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA): Increasing Minnesota’s biofuel standard from 10 to 15 percent for all gasoline sold in the state. Last week I wrote about our support.

On Thursday, Feb. 27th the Senate Agriculture, Rural Development and Housing Policy committee heard SF 3605. Chief author Senator Torrey Westrom (R-Elbow Lake) presented the bill and testifying in favor were MCGA, POET, Denco, Minnesota Farm Bureau, Minnesota Farmers Union and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. Concerns were raised by the Minnesota Petroleum Marketers Association and the American Petroleum Institute. Despite concerns and thanks to the strong leadership by Chair Senator Westrom, the bill passed out of committee on a voice vote and was referred to the Senate Commerce and Consumer Protection committee.

If you are interested you can watch video of the committee here. Presentation and discussion on the bill begins around the 55:00 minute mark.

Additionally on Thursday, the Senate committee unanimously recommended Commissioner Thom Petersen for confirmation to the full Senate. MCGA submitted a letter of support for Commissioner Petersen, and we congratulate him for his strong showing of support from the committee. 

On Tuesday, Mar. 3rd the House Agriculture and Food Finance and Policy Division heard HF 3699. Chief author Representative Jeanne Poppe (DFL-Austin) presented the bill and testifying in favor were MCGA, Bushmills Ethanol, Minnesota Farmers Union, Minnesota Farm Bureau, Growth Energy and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. Concerns were again raised by the Minnesota Petroleum Marketers Association and the American Petroleum Institute. Once again, strong leadership from Chair Jeanne Poppe and support from members on the committee resulted in the bill passing on voice vote and was referred to the House Commerce Committee.

MCGA greatly appreciates the strong leadership from Chairs Westrom and Poppe in advancing the important legislation to the state’s corn farmers. Minnesota has always been a leader on biofuel policy, and if Minnesota puts into law an increase in the biofuel standard, we would be the first state to do so, continuing our legacy of national biofuels leadership. Actually, SF 3605 and HF 3699 represent the first time any bill was heard anywhere in the country setting a 15-percent blending requirement for ethanol. Minnesota elected officials can be proud of our leadership in this area.

If the legislature and the Governor would put this policy in place, Minnesota would be the first state in the country to deliver a higher blend of biofuel that benefits consumers with higher octane, lower costs and reduced tailpipe emissions. We have a long way to go until May 18 and several issues to address, but the first committee stops for the bill had positive results. MCGA will continue to advocate for this policy on behalf of our members. If you have questions or would like to learn more, please feel free to contact me.

Be sure to follow the MCGA blog and its social channels (FacebookTwitter) throughout session for updates from the Capitol. You can also follow me on Twitter (@AjBilek).

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