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Minnesota House approves Legacy Amendment investments

Thursday, April 15, 2021

SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Today, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed legislation that invests $648.6 million in protecting and enhancing Minnesota's outdoor heritage, clean water, arts and cultural heritage, and parks and trails. Authored by Rep. Leon Lillie (DFL – North St. Paul), the bill outlines how funds generated by the state’s Legacy Amendment would be allocated to benefit people and communities across Minnesota.  

“Minnesotans care deeply about our state,” said Rep. Lillie, chair of the Legacy Finance Committee. “We are proud of Minnesota’s great outdoors, clean water, and arts and culture, and we want to preserve and enhance them. Investing in these priorities will make our state an even better place to live for current and future generations.”

In 2008, Minnesotans voted to adopt the Legacy Amendment, which increased sales taxes by three-eighths of one percent. The revenue this constitutional amendment generates is divided between four funds. Sixty-six percent of the revenue is split evenly between the Outdoor Heritage Fund and the Clean Water Fund, 19.75 percent goes to the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, and the Parks and Trails Fund receives 14.25 percent. All of these funds are appropriated every two years except the Outdoor Heritage Fund, which is appropriated annually.  

“Investing in the outdoors, clean water, arts and culture, and parks and trails is an investment in our future,” said House Speaker Melissa Hortman. “For more than a decade, the Legacy Amendment has funded initiatives to benefit people and communities across our entire state, and today's legislation continues building on that success.”

“Our state created a dedicated, voter-approved fund for investments in the arts, culture, and the outdoors because Minnesotans understand these are things that should not get swept up in partisan politics,” said Majority Leader Ryan Winkler. “The Legacy fund means that our parks, trails, museums, and artists cannot be used as a bargaining chip by Republicans to pass their agenda of tax cuts for the biggest corporations and wealthiest Minnesotans.”

Outdoor Heritage Fund

The bill invests $130.8 million from the Outdoor Heritage Fund in Minnesota’s prairies, wetlands, forests, and habitat for fish, game, and wildlife. It provides funding for projects including native prairie protection, wetland restoration, wildlife enhancements, forest fragmentation prevention, shoreline restoration, and strategic land acquisition. The bill follows project recommendations offered by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council (LSOHC) and emphasizes ways that the Outdoor Heritage Fund can more broadly impact BIPOC communities. 

Clean Water Fund

$256.7 million from the Clean Water Fund would be used to protect and restore lakes, rivers, streams, groundwater, and drinking water sources. The bill delivers funding for assessing and monitoring water quality, preventing contamination, improving sewer systems, studying agricultural impacts, managing the water supply, assisting local governments, and more. It also includes measures to protect Minnesotans’ health, such as amending the health risk limit for PFOS.  

Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund

The legislation provides $149.7 million to support the arts, arts education, and arts access and to preserve Minnesota’s history and cultural heritage. Almost half of these funds would go to the Minnesota State Arts Board, which distributes funds to several hundred artists and organizations each year. The bill also supports the Minnesota Historical Society, libraries, public television and radio, museums, cultural organizations, zoos, county fairs, and Native American language preservation initiatives.  

Parks and Trails Fund

The bill includes $110.6 million to support parks and trails of regional and statewide significance. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources would receive $43.8 million for state parks, trails, and recreation areas and $21.9 million for parks and trails in Greater Minnesota. The Metropolitan Council would receive $43.8 million for parks in the metro area. Additional funding would be used to develop a statewide plan for parks and trails outside the metro and to fund restoration and maintenance work. 

The Legacy bill addresses racial and cultural inequalities to ensure that these funds benefit all Minnesotans. It directs state agencies and other funding recipients to ensure employment, educational, and engagement opportunities are available to Minnesotans from underrepresented communities, particularly children and young adults. It also encourages potential applicants from a greater diversity of organizations and requires assessments on whether the funding celebrates cultural diversity or reaches diverse communities. 

Video of the floor session will be available on House Public Information Services’ YouTube channel.  

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