ST. PAUL – For the second time this year, Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Acton Township, and the House did their part in gaining final passage of a bill which distributes revenue raised by the Legacy Amendment.
This time, the Senate joined the House in passing the bill with strong bipartisan support during a special session Friday, sending it to Gov. Mark Dayton for his anticipated approval.
The bill Urdahl authored as chairman of the House Legacy Committee appropriates $540 million in funding for clean water, arts/cultural heritage, outdoor heritage, and parks and trails. The overall dollar amounts include just slight changes from when the House provided broad final approval on May 18. Time expired on the regular session that day before the Senate acted on it, despite what Urdahl said was apparent support from that body.
The overall distributions to be enacted for 2016-17 upon Dayton's approval include:
Clean Water Fund – $228.3 million
Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund – $124.8 million
Outdoor Heritage Fund – $97.8 million
Parks and Trails Fund – $89.4 million
2016-17 total – $540.3 million
"It is satisfying to see this bill get to the finish line," Urdahl said. "It required some extra work to get it there, but the important thing is we persisted and passed a very good, bipartisan bill."
Urdahl said one notable appropriation in the arts and cultural heritage portion of the bill is $3.3 million for Capitol art preservation as that building undergoes a massive restoration. Also, new policy language aims to prevent a previous legacy fund recipient from receiving Legacy funds in the future if the recipient fails to comply with the laws, rules or regulations pertaining to appropriations received.
The revenue the bill appropriates is generated by a constitutional amendment citizens approved in 2008, raising the state sales tax by three-eighths of 1 percent to support the aforementioned areas. The committee received approximately $28 million more in requests than was available.
"The Legacy Committee faces a unique set of challenges compared with other committees," Urdahl said. "My focus in chairing the committee remains to lead deliberate, transparent discussions so we can shape a bill that is fair, responsible and upholds the spirit of the Legacy Amendment."
Detailed information regarding Legacy appropriations dating back to the amendment's inception is available at www.legacy.leg.mn.
Sen. Dick Cohen, D-St. Paul, carried the companion legislation.