Conservation Minnesota

Clean Water Land Legacy Amendment Lives On Until 2034

I note with interest that there seems to be a small movement to try to repeal the Legacy constitutional amendment for the outdoors and the arts.  Even though it’s only two and one-half years after 56 percent of Minnesota voters approved the Legacy act.  I guess it was just too popular for some people.

A bill even has been introduced in the legislature for the repeal but won’t get a hearing now that the regular session is over.  And, as supporters of the outdoors and the arts know, the 2011 Legacy funding bill failed on the last night of the session to move on to the Governor’s desk.  It certainly will be revived for passage in the upcoming special session.  One of the legislators authoring the Legacy repeal bill was actually once the chair of the House Environment and Natural Resources Policy Committee.

The Legacy Amendment was a major and long-term commitment by supporters wanting it to happen.  Folks began to think about the idea more than 20 years ago, and it emanated from the mid-1980’s effort to find sufficient funding for the Reinvest in Minnesota (RIM) Act.  Actual bills to set aside a percentage of the state sales tax for fish, game, and wildlife habitat purposes started to be introduced in 1999.

Whether or not you agree with the notion that it may not be good policy to constitutionally dedicate money for certain purposes, the Legacy act idea should not have been a surprise to voters after the legislative bills and all the press attention of the first eight years of the 21st century.  The conservation and environmental groups, along with the arts and cultural organizations, worked long and hard to convince legislators-and then the general public-on the constitutional ballot question:  that these quality of life areas had been underfunded by previous governmental action.

The voters understood and voted with their hearts and pocketbooks that it’s important these critical elements receive a funding boost for 25 years so future generations can take advantage of their bounty.

About John Helland

John Helland
John Helland is a history graduate of the University of Minnesota. He served as the nonpartisan legislative research analyst for the Minnesota House of Representatives after graduation. He worked extensively on environment and natural resources legislation and issues, and was the primary nonpartisan research staffer for the House Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Finance committees from 1971 to 2008.
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