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Celebrations, movies and a new song

Published (3/28/2008)
By Courtney Blanchard
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It didn’t seem like a glamorous meeting, but movie stars and parties are the main themes in the House Minnesota Heritage Finance Division’s omnibus bill, approved by the division March 25.

Division Chairman Rep. Mike Jaros (DFL-Duluth) sponsors HF4063, which would help fund sesquicentennial celebrations around the state and help lure St. Louis Park natives Joel and Ethan Coen back to Minnesota to shoot a movie.

Jaros said he was glad the governor didn’t recommend significant cuts to the committee’s budget. The governor suggested cutting state funding to the Target Center in Minneapolis, but Jaros did not include that in the bill.

The bill’s cost to the General Fund this biennium is a $750,000 appropriation to the State Sesquicentennial Commission, a project that is backed by the governor, Jaros said. The money, to be used for the celebration of 150 years of statehood, would be distributed to communities across Minnesota and matched with local funds.

A commission is encouraged, under the bill, to accept suggestions for a new state song. The provision is modeled after a bill introduced by Rep. Dean Urdahl (R-Grove City), who, despite pleas from division members, declined to sing the current state song, “Hail! Minnesota.”

The bill would also allow the state’s tourism board to appropriate $500,000 from a previous unused state appropriation to the Minnesota Film and TV Board. The money would be used as a production incentive for the filming of “A Serious Man,” by the Coen brothers. The movie is tentatively scheduled to begin shooting in late summer.

The tourism board would also be required to conduct a study on vacation rental lodging in the state and report to the Legislature on how to protect consumers and promote rentals.

The bill would allow the Indian Affairs Council to conduct meetings using telephones or other electronic means. It would allow members to meet without driving across the state to one of the offices in Bemidji or St. Paul.

The bill, which has no Senate companion, was heard March 27 by the House Finance Committee, and incorporated into its supplemental budget bill (HF1812).

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