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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Rick Hansen (DFL)

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Legislative Update - July 11, 2019

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Dear neighbors,

I hope you’ve been able to enjoy the great weather we’ve been having! I’ve seen several beautiful Minnesota sunrises and sunsets this week as I’m working on installing solar panels on our shed.

Support for the Minnesota Zoo

Animal and habitat conservation are key pieces of the Minnesota Zoo’s mission. The zoo oversees efforts to protect animals across our state and around the world.

Some of their conservation programs are quite unique. For example, the zoo has partnered with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the Nature Conservancy to reintroduce Dakota skippers, an endangered butterfly species. They’re the only organization in the world that rears and breeds these prairie butterflies. You can read more about all of the Minnesota Zoo’s conservation programs at https://mnzoo.org/conservation, and information specific to the prairie butterfly program is available here.

Last week almost 400 Dakota skippers were released at the Hole-in-the-Mountain preserve in Lincoln County, an area where the butterflies used to thrive. The Pioneer Press published an article about the butterfly release here. Bluestem Prairie also recently published a piece about this important work. You can read it here.

The Minnesota Zoo’s prairie butterfly conservation program receives funding from several sources, including the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, the Legacy Amendment Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, and donations from Zoo guests and members. Lottery-in-lieu funds are also a critical piece of the picture. State lottery ticket sales are exempt from sales taxes, but the lottery makes payments to the state each year that are equal to what the sales tax on their proceeds would’ve been. The revenue is divided amongst a number of funds and used for things like maintaining state parks and trails and supporting zoos.

This year, House DFLers initiated lottery-in-lieu funding for the Minnesota Zoo and worked hard to get Senate Republicans to agree to these investments. The Minnesota Zoo will use the funds they received to renovate and renew exhibits. That means that they can use general funds for conservation programs, like the Dakota skipper reintroduction. I’m pleased that the budget that we passed is supporting such important work!

State Economic Update

Minnesota Management & Budget released their latest economic update yesterday. The report states that Minnesota’s revenue is expected to exceed the February forecast by $636 million. More information on the current economic situation is available here.

Backyard Bumble Bee Count

The Minnesota Native Bee Atlas is hosting the first annual Backyard Bumble Bee Count next Monday! Volunteers will meet at Falcon Heights Community Park and help researchers collect information on the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee and other species. Learn more and RSVP here.

When: Monday, July 15 from 1-3pm
Where: Falcon Heights Community Park, 2050 Roselawn Avenue, Falcon Heights, MN 55113

As always, please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.

Sincerely,

Rick Hansen
State Representative

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