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2021 Special Session

Legacy funds distribute $645.6 million for clean water, outdoors and the arts

The four funds established by the “Legacy Amendment” in 2008 will distribute $645.6 million in the 2022-23 biennium, allocating receipts from 0.375% of the state’s sales tax to projects promoting clean water, the outdoors, and the arts and cultural heritage.

Sponsored by Rep. Leon Lillie (DFL-North St. Paul) and Sen. Carrie Ruud (R-Breezy Point), the omnibus legacy finance law also extends several appropriations from previous years, many for projects slowed or suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Outdoor Heritage Fund

Based upon recommendations made by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council, this fund receives 33% of the revenues from the sales tax increase. The money may be spent only “to restore, protect, and enhance wetlands, prairies, forests, and habitat for fish, game, and wildlife.” The only one of the four funds to be distributed annually rather than biennially, it will provide total appropriations of $127.8 million in fiscal year 2022 and $557,000 in fiscal year 2023 to various organizations and state agencies.

The law also clarifies existing approval requirements for purchasing land subject to conservation easements and expands the approval requirement to all lands with an existing conservation easement.

The changes took effect June 26, 2021.

The law also provides a one-year extension for the fiscal year 2021 conservation partners legacy grant program appropriation. (Art. 1, Secs. 2-4)

Clean Water Fund

The clean water fund receives 33% of the revenues from the sales tax increase and must be spent “only to protect, enhance, and restore water quality in lakes, rivers, and streams and to protect groundwater from degradation.” It’s also required that at least 5% of the fund be spent to protect drinking water sources. The law earmarks $126.7 million from the clean water fund in fiscal year 2022 and $130.1 million in fiscal year 2023.

Recipients of the largest appropriations include:

• Board of Water and Soil Resources ($141.8 million);

• Pollution Control Agency ($42.2 million);

• Department of Agriculture ($20.2 million);

• Department of Natural Resources ($17.5 million);

• Public Facilities Authority ($16.1 million); and

• Department of Health ($11.9 million). (Art. 2, Secs. 3-11)

Each of those agencies also receives extensions on certain appropriations from fiscal years 2018 to 2021, as did the Metropolitan Council.

Also extended is the availability of grants under the conservation drainage program to the Greater Blue Earth River Basin Alliance. And the Clean Water Council must submit a report that assesses the implementation of high-resolution digital elevation data developed with previous clean water fund appropriations. (Art. 2, Secs. 2-24)

Parks and Trails Fund

This fund receives 14.25 percent of the revenues from the sales tax increase and must be spent to “support parks and trails of regional or statewide significance.” It provides an appropriation of $54.8 million from the fund in fiscal year 2022, and $55.9 million in fiscal year 2023.

The Department of Natural Resources will receive $33.1 million in fiscal year 2022 and $33.7 million in fiscal year 2023 for state parks, state trails and state recreation areas, as well as for regional parks and trails in Greater Minnesota through the parks and trails legacy grant program. The Metropolitan Council will receive $21.7 million in fiscal year 2022 and $22.1 million in fiscal year 2023 for metropolitan regional parks and trails.

The law also appropriates $4,000 in fiscal year 2020 to the Legislative Coordinating Commission for the Legacy website. It also extends the availability of a grant to the city of Hermantown for the Proctor-Hermantown Munger Trail Spur project, and grants that provided coordination of projects between the DNR, the Metropolitan Council, and the Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission; enhanced web-based information for park and trail users; and support of activities of the Parks and Trails Legacy Advisory Committee. (Art. 3, Secs. 2-7)

Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund

Accounting for 19.75% of legacy monies, this fund will appropriate $73.1 million in fiscal year 2022 and $76.6 million in fiscal year 2023 to several state agencies for activities related to arts, cultural heritage and history.

During the 2022-23 biennium, the State Arts Board will receive $70.4 million for grants to artists and arts organizations, arts education and diverse cultural arts traditions, with 30% of the funding earmarked for the state’s 13 regional arts councils.

Among the other recipients of arts and cultural heritage fund money during the biennium are:

• Minnesota Historical Society ($33 million);

• Department of Administration for funding to such organizations as public television and radio ($21.1 million);

• Minnesota Humanities Center ($9.5 million); and

• Department of Education for regional library grants ($5 million).

The law also adds historical preservation corps to the list of government entities and nonprofits covered under the Joint Exercise of Powers statute, and extends the availability of the appropriation for the Phalen Park China Garden through June 30, 2023. (Art. 4, Secs. 1-4)

2021 First Special Session: SSHF13*/SSSF21/SSCH1

New Laws 2021

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HF0013* / SF0021 / CH1
House Chief Author: Lillie
Senate Chief Author: Ruud
Effective Dates: See chapter summary in the file link above.
* The legislative bill marked with an asterisk denotes the file submitted to the governor.