Saturday, January 28th, 2023
Saturday, January 28th, 2023

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Groups ponder future of 3/16s amendment

Editor

Plymouth, Minn. Representatives from several state outdoor
groups rendezvoused last week to assess why the so-called 3/16s
proposal failed during the 2002 Legislature and to begin retooling
for 2003.

After a furious campaign late in the 2002 legislative session,
the 3/16s proposal, which would have dedicated $115 million to
natural resource programs, died in the waning minutes of the
session. At last week’s meeting convened by the Coalition of
Minnesota Conservation Organizations (COMCO) group representatives
pondered a number of ideas, including possibly pursuing a larger
chunk of state sales tax, next year.

Three years running, state legislators have balked at proposals
to dedicate a portion of the current 6 percent sales tax to natural
resource programs. The suggestion was raised at last week’s meeting
that the 3/16s be increased  as much as one-half of 1 percent and
added onto the existing sales tax. The Minnesota Environmental
Partnership has considered putting such a proposal in play, said
Gary Botzek, former executive director of the now-defunct Fish and
Wildlife Legislative Alliance.

“If we’re going to go for the gusto, we might as well get a
half-cent,” Botzek said.

Groups represented at the two-hour meeting included the
Minnesota Sportfishing Congress, Minnesota Outdoor Heritage
Alliance, The Nature Conservancy, Minnesota Waterfowl Association,
the Izaak Walton League, Botzek, and Tim Peterson, of St. Paul.

John Schroers, MOHA member and vice president of the Duck and
Goose Callers Chapter of the waterfowl association, said a theme of
“better organization” ran throughout the meeting. Members also are
realizing, he said, that big proposals of statewide significance,
like 3/16s, will require large-scale public information
campaigns.

“Out of the wild blue yonder, we pulled the number $1 million to
$3 million for an adequate campaign,” he said. “Getting a message
out to the general public is a spendy endeavor.”

Schroers said the Minnesota Environmental Partnership provides a
good model on the environmental side. It ran a massive “Protect Our
Waters” campaign this year operating on grant monies.

Boztek added that the discussion also focused on maintaining
COMCO as a “bridge or umbrella” among hunting, fishing and
environmental groups to come together and work toward issues of
mutual interest.

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