Legacy Amendment Bills Quietly Advancing At State Capitol
ST. PAUL - As the State Legislature and the Governor continue to spar over high profile issues like the budget, gay marriage, and a Vikings stadium -- there's also bills that have quietly passed that tinker with the State Land and Legacy Amendment.
The Land and Legacy Amendment brings in hundreds of millions of dollars, and state lawmakers have been voting on conflicting bills on where that money should go.
First, the State House passed a bill that puts a one-year moratorium on the state buying any additional land in greater Minnesota with that money. The seven-county metro area is exempt from that moratorium. However, it would not prevent regional parks from buying land with that money. All four of our local Representatives -- Larry Hosch, Tim O'Driscoll, King Banaian, and Steve Gottwalt -- voted against the bill. State Senator John Pederson of St. Cloud says he's been assured that a similar bill in the Senate will not make it to the floor for a vote.
Meanwhile, a bill authored by Senator Pederson that would designate a certain percentage of the money for greater Minnesota is in conference committee. Pederson originally wanted 26% of the funds for rural Minnesota. The Senate voted for 22%, the House approved 18%. Pederson is hopefully they come to an agreement and get it to the Governor before Monday's legislative deadline. Pederson says it's important because the Legacy funds are broken up into three sections: DNR funds, metro area parks, and regional parks. However, right now parks in the Twins Cities can apply for -- and receive -- money from both the metro area parks fund and the regional parks fund, and in a sense are double dipping.