Big-time legislative wrangling under way
We’re less than three weeks away from when the state Legislature constitutionally must adjourn for the year. But if you believe there should be a clear end in sight with fewer than 21 days left, then you may be disappointed.
Year after year, much of the Legislature’s work doesn’t get done until the final days, hours, or minutes of the session.
Following is a list of bills, and links to those bills, that sportsmen in Minnesota should be watching as the session winds down.
Environment budget bills
Both houses have passed their budget bills, but there are differences.
A conference committee was set to begin meeting this week to hash out the differences in these bills, which fund agencies such as the DNR and Board of Water and Soil Resources.
House conferees are: Reps. Jean Wagenius, DFL-Minneapolis; David Dill, DFL-Crane Lake; Jeanne Poppe, DFL-Austin; Rick Hansen, DFL-South St. Paul; and Andrew Falk, DFL-Murdock.
Senate conferees are: Sens. David Tomassoni, DFL-Chisholm; Tom Saxhaug, DFL-Grand Rapids; Dan Sparks, DFL-Austin; James Metzen, DFL-South St. Paul; Torrey Westrom, R-Elbow Lake.
Game and fish bills
Neither the House nor Senate yet has passed a Game and Fish bill off the floor. One thing to note with these bills: If there is a late effort to institute a wolf hunting and trapping moratorium on the floor of either body, it likely will occur during discussions about these bills.
The Legacy bills include the four pots of money created when voters approved the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment in 2008. The House Legacy bill has been especially controversial this year.
At this point, the Senate hasn’t even created its Legacy bill.
The House bill was set for floor action weeks ago, but a vote was abruptly cancelled and there’s been no recent indication when it will be back.
These bills include the funding recommendations of the Legislative-Citizens Commission on Minnesota Resources. The House bill was set to be heard on the floor on Wednesday.
Omnibus tax bills
These huge bills not only create state tax policy, they also could affect sportsmen in several ways. Among them: how the Legislature decides to handle the Sustainable Forestry Incentives Act program.
Depending on what lawmakers decide, some forest land could be closed to public access.
Senate conferees are: Sens. Rod Skoe, DFL-Clearbrook; Ann Rest, DFL-New Hope; Kari Dziedzic, DFL-Minneapolis; Lyle Koenen, DFL-Clara City; David Senjem, R-Rochester
House conferees are: Reps. Ann Lenczewski, DFL-Bloomington; Jim Davie, DFL-Minneapolis; Tom Anzelc, DFL-Balsam Township; John Benson, DFL-Minnetonka; Kim Norton, DFL-Rochester.