SAINT PAUL, Minn.— Yesterday, the House Legacy Finance Division, chaired by Rep. Leon Lillie (DFL – North St. Paul), finalized the committee’s omnibus finance bill (HF 653). The legislation passed through committee unanimously. The next stop for the bill is Ways and Means.
A spreadsheet of the bill’s contents can be found here.
“Minnesotans care about our state and cherish the things that make it such a special place to live,” said Rep. Lillie. “Despite being in the midst of a recession, voters overwhelmingly supported the adoption of the Legacy Amendment in 2008, and they’ve seen great returns on that investment in the past decade. This bill will continue the great work that’s been done across the state thanks to Legacy funds and preserve our state’s abundant natural resources and rich heritage for future generations of Minnesotans.”
Minnesota voters chose to adopt the Legacy Amendment in 2008. The constitutional amendment increased sales taxes by three-eighths of one percent for 25 years and divided the revenue between four funds. The Outdoor Heritage Fund and Clean Water Fund each receive 33 percent of the funding. The Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund and Parks and Trails Fund receive 19.75 percent and 14.25 percent, respectively.
The bill includes Outdoor Heritage Fund investments that would protect, restore, and enhance 10,020 acres of wetlands, 108,384 acres of prairies, 14,598 acres of forest, and 8,216 acres of aquatic habitat. Other initiatives support habitat systems for fish, game, and wildlife and land acquisitions. The bill is largely identical to the recommendations provided by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council.
Financing from the Clean Water Fund would protect water quality in lakes, rivers, and streams and prevent contamination of groundwater and drinking water sources. Provisions to assess water quality statewide, help local governments implement projects, and support innovative research on agricultural practices that conserve water and soil are included in the bill. The Clean Water Council contributed to these proposals.
Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund expenditures support the arts, arts education, and arts access and preserve Minnesota’s history and cultural heritage. A portion of these funds are dedicated to the State Arts Board or Regional Arts Councils. The bill includes support for children’s museums, regional libraries, public radio and television, zoos and aquariums, language preservation efforts, county fairs, and other programs that preserve historic resources and diverse cultural traditions.
Investments in the Parks and Trails Fund are dedicated to connecting people to the outdoors and creating recreation opportunities. The bill includes funding to maintain and improve parks and trails in Greater Minnesota and the metro area as well as state parks, recreation areas, and trails. Measures to improve coordination between the Department of Natural Resources, the Metropolitan Council, the Greater Minnesota Parks and Trails Commission, and agencies that operate parks and trails throughout the state are also incorporated.