End-of-session negotiations are ongoing as legislators continue to work towards an agreement on a roads and bridges bill as well as bonding and tax relief bills.
Governor Dayton is expected to work with his staff over the weekend to present his first transportation proposal on Monday. I hope that the governor will remember his own words from December when he declared the gas tax "dead".
On Monday, the 2016 Lessard-Sams bill was passed by the House. Most Legacy funds are distributed every two years whereas the Lessard-Sams recommendations are annually.
This year’s portion is about $110 million, of which $80 million will be spent for 12,000 acres of land acquisitions. Since coming to the legislature in 2012, it has been my goal to inform Minnesotans of the massive amounts of land the state is buying every year.
In 2008, the Legacy Amendment was approved by Minnesota voters. Since then, increasing acres of property have been removed from the tax rolls which, in turn, drives up existing property taxes that we all pay.
The latest numbers from the DNR show that 8.5 million acres of Minnesota land is owned by the state, or 17% of Minnesota’s total acreage. The Federal Government holds 3.4 million or 7% of land with 2.6 million acres of water representing roughly 5%. These numbers do not reflect property held by nonprofits nor do they include permanent easements. I encourage you to click here
and take a look at the numbers for yourself.
Last year I was able to amend the bill to require anyone receiving Legacy funds to comply with the laws set forth in the state’s constitution as many are not in compliance.
For this year’s bill, I authored three provisions that have been included. One would not release this year’s funding until the legislative auditor issues a report clearing recipients. Another would require the Department of Natural resources to hold open public hearings before land could be purchased with Legacy funds. The third requires county board approval before the sales would be final. I believe these are necessary steps that will protect Greater Minnesota. The Senate version of the bill does not contain these reforms and the two bills are currently in conference committee.
In the coming weeks I will be sending out updates containing information about where you’re Legacy tax dollars are spent.
Please be sure to contact me if you have questions or comments regarding this issue or any other matter before the legislature. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-9918
or via email at email@example.com
Have a great weekend,