Friday, February 3rd, 2023
Friday, February 3rd, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Collision course ahead for Outdoor Heritage Fund bill?

St. Paul — Lawmakers in the House continue their tinkering with the bill that carries the recommendations of the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council.

HF 181, authored by Rep. Denny McNamara, R-Hastings, has cleared two committees, and now awaits hearing in the Legacy Funding Finance Committee.

However, it’s not the same bill the LSOHC recommended.

Gone is a $2.2 million White Earth Nation project that would have allowed the tribe to buy about 2,000 acres of land, which would have been transferred to federal trust status. Even some who oppose that specific project say lawmakers are mistaken in removing it, given the council recommended it. Garry Leaf, of Sportsmen for Change, says the action could imperil the entire bill.

In addition, the bill has been amended so the Legislative Coordinating Commission alone would be responsible for appointing the council’s staff. That now is the responsibility of the L-SOHC, in coordination with the LCC.

That became an issue last year, when the LCC narrowed down the list of potential replacements for then-L-SOHC executive director Bill Becker. The LCC didn’t forward Mark Johnson as a finalist, to which some council members took exception. In the end, Johnson became the council’s executive director.

The Senate bill that carries the L-SOHC’s recommendations – SF 242, authored by Sen. Tom Saxhaug, DFL-Grand Rapids – hasn’t yet been heard.

The L-SOHC also isn’t at full capacity at the moment. The House hasn’t announced whether it will replace or reappoint Ron Schara, the Senate whether it will replace or reappoint Jim Cox. In addition, Gov. Mark Dayton hasn’t announced whether he will replace or reappoint Scott Rall and Jane Kingston.

Senior deer licenses

Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk is pushing to allow residents 84 and older to take a doe without a special permit, just as George Krog, 84, of Two Harbors, asked.

Though the change would open doors for other elderly hunters too, Bakk and others are giddy about helping Krog.

“Maybe 200 people take advantage of this,” said Rep. David Dill, a Crane Lake Democrat pushing the bill in the House on Krog’s behalf. “Maybe 2,000, maybe it’s 5,000 – I really don’t care. This is something that every legislator in their term … has the opportunity to do: to help somebody.”

Paul Telander, DNR Wildlife Section chief, said the DNR hasn’t yet taken a position on the bill.

Other bills
• SF 612, authored by Sen. Chris Eaton, DFL-Brooklyn Center, would reinstate a five-year moratorium on wolf hunting.
• SF 592, authored by Sen. Charles Wiger, DFL-Maplewood, would prohibit trapping and baiting of wolves in the state, and outlaw snares to take wild animals.
• HF 608, authored by Rep. Tom Hackbarth, R-Cedar, would allocate $5 million from the Game and Fish Fund to the DNR for trapshooting facility grants. Sen. Matt Schmit, DFL-Red Wing, has the companion bill – SF 631.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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