Monday, January 30th, 2023
Monday, January 30th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

3/16s bill still alive

St. Paul A bill that would let voters decide whether part of the
state sales tax should go toward conservation and environmental
programs found new life Tuesday after proponents met with key House
and Senate leadership.

The so-called 3/16s bill would generate about $115 million a
year for parks, wildlife, trails and zoos.

In trouble last week

The bill had stumbled last Wednesday in a House Committee.
Sponsors backed off after Rep. Phyllis Kahn introduced an amendment
in the State Government Finance Committee that would have let
voters also decide on dedicating the same amount of money for
education.

“The point is at least let’s give voters a choice of what they
think is the most important thing to dedicate funds to,” the
Minneapolis DFLer said.

A group of lawmakers had revived their push for the so-called
3/16s bill after all of the gubernatorial candidates said they
would support the measure. The legislation would dedicate 3/16s of
1 percent of the state sales tax for conservation programs.

It would appear as a constitutional amendment on the 2002
ballot.

The bill’s author, Rep. Mark Holsten, pulled the bill before the
committee had a chance to vote on Kahn’s amendment.

“They’re trying to make a political position. They’ll be damned
if they’re going to give Republicans a bill that would be the
greatest thing for the environment in the last 20 years,” the
Stillwater Republican said.

Immediately after the vote, Holsten declared the bill dead for
the year.

Back on track

Early this week, however, proponents of the legislation became
more optimistic that the legislation could still progress this
year, after a meeting with House Speaker Steve Sviggum and House
Minority Leader Tom Pugh, DFL-South St. Paul. Those in attendance
included Gary Botzek, executive director of the Fish and Wildlife
Legislative Alliance, Joe Duggan, with Pheasants Forever, and John
Schroers, board member with the Minnesota Waterfowl
Association.

House Speaker Steve Sviggum, however, said the measure still had
a chance to pass the House. The Kenyon Republican said he’ll
consider a variety of parliamentary moves to move the bill forward.
The bill was rescheduled to reappear in the House State Government
Finance Committee again on Wednesday. Proponents were confident
that the matter would pass on a voice vote.

Later, the group met with Senate Majority Leader (and DFL
gubernatorial candidate) Roger Moe to discuss the legislation. By
the end of the day Tuesday, Botzek said “We’re back in the game,”
regarding 3/16s this session.

“Leaders of the Minnesota Outdoor Heritage Alliance and the Fish
and Wildlife Legislative Alliance met with both House and Senate
leaders today to try and break this loose for what we hope is a
vote in both bodies,” Botzek said. “We’re optimistic that we’ll see
the needed committee meetings and floor votes before business ends
next Monday.”

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