Hey, legislators: Respect the Lessard-Sams council’s process

During the 2013 legislative session, lawmakers – led by Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis – added two projects to the bill carrying the recommendations of the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council.

There was an outcry over legislation shenanigans, and Gov. Mark Dayton, in the end, used a line-item veto to remove the two projects from the bill. Sportsmen and others applauded Dayton for using his veto power to ensure the final bill adhered to the LSOHC’s recommendations.

Which brings us to the current legislative session. 

The bill that includes the council’s recommendations in the House is HF 181. The author is Rep. Denny McNamara, R-Hastings, who is a member of the LSOHC and chair of the Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee.

Among the most controversial projects the LSOHC debated was one for the White Earth Nation, which had requested money to buy about 2,000 acres of sensitive land. The tribe was clear that wolf hunting wouldn’t be allowed on the land, and that it would seek federal trust status for it. As debated as it was, the council voted to recommend about $2.2 million to the tribe to buy the land.

McNamara’s committee, though, stripped the project from the bill.

This is where it gets tricky. Many people don’t like the idea of spending state sales tax dollars to buy land that eventually will be held in federal trust. And that’s a legitimate concern. But the bottom line is this: The council did its due diligence and voted to include the project in its list of recommendations. And that trumps all.

Think what you may about the project itself, but sportsmen should be upset that lawmakers – led this time by Republicans – stripped it from the bill. Because in the end, respecting the LSOHC’s process and its recommendations is far more important than a $2.2 million project.

If we as sportsmen stand idly by as the Legislature strips out this project, then what leg will we have to stand on when future Legislatures make their own changes to the LSOHC’s recommendations?

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