Saturday, February 4th, 2023
Saturday, February 4th, 2023

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

MN: Dayton: No special session for state parks, BWSR, PCA

St. Paul – If the DNR is to be up and operational, so, too, will
be the rest of state government.

Until that happens, fishing and hunting licenses will go unsold and
state parks will remain closed.

Late last week, Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, sent a letter
to Gov. Mark Dayton, asking him to call a special session to deal
with the bill that includes the budgets for state agencies like the
DNR, Board of Water and Soil Resources, and Pollution Control
Agency.

Ingebrigtsen, the Senate author of the budget bill, is chair of the
Environment and Natural Resources Committee. He noted in his letter
that Dayton already has signed the agriculture budget bill.

“The Governor has said repeatedly that he will not call a special
session until there is an agreement on the budget,” Dayton’s
spokesperson, Katharine Tinucci, wrote in an email. “He will not be
calling a special session to deal with only one bill.”

According to Ingebrigtsen’s letter, the omnibus environment, energy
and natural resources budget bill includes $200 million in state
general funds, or less than 1 percent of the entire General Fund
budget.

He noted the current proposal includes $13 million more in General
Funds than did the Legislature’s first proposal, and that it
addresses areas of concerns as identified by agency
commissioners.

“It should be noted that we met your requested funding levels for
our state parks,” Ingebrigtsen wrote. “Despite this, our state park
system remains closed.”

According to the DNR, state parks and campgrounds generate about $1
million in revenue each week during July.

On Friday of this week, the shutdown will have lasted for two
weeks, with no apparent end in sight as Dayton and legislative
leaders haven’t met for at least several days. They remain
deadlocked about how to close the state’s $5 billion budget
deficit.

“I respect your desire for a ‘global agreement’ before you call a
special session,” Ingebrigtsen wrote. “However, I feel your actions
are causing harm to Minnesotans and the environment they cherish

“In light of recent vandalism at state parks, it is imperative that
we allocate the necessary funds to reopen our parks (to) prevent
further harm and damage. Our conservation officers are an important
resource needed for operations other than patrolling the shut down
parks for vandals.”

Lessard-Sams

Though the Legacy bill that includes funds recommended by the
Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council hasn’t been approved by the
Legislature yet, the council is beginning work on its next set of
recommendations.

The current bill was the final one lawmakers debated during the
regular session, which ended in late May. The session expired
before it could be approved.

The controversial aspects of that bill have been removed from it,
so L-SOHC officials hope it can be passed quickly during a special
session.

The deadline to request money for the next round of L-SOHC funding
is this Friday, July 15.

“We’re staying with our published schedule,” said Bill Becker,
executive director of the council.

The schedule is online at http://www.lsohc.leg.mn.

But things could change if state workers aren’t back on the job by
late next month or early September because the council is holding
hearings that require testimony from program managers from the
various agencies.

“If they can’t show up to testify, it would be difficult to hold
hearings,” Becker said. “We are hoping for a resolution at least a
week or so before that.”

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