Legacy bills heard this week

The Senate Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee met Monday and Wednesday this week to hear 40 bills containing proposals for funding from the four legacy funds:  outdoor heritage, clean water, parks and trails, and arts and cultural heritage.

The committee heard the recommendations of the Outdoor Heritage Council for projects to restore, protect, and preserve Minnesota’s outdoors; various proposals recommended by the Clean Water Council and the Governor for clean-up of Minnesota’s lakes, streams, and rivers; proposals to fund parks and trails throughout the state; and many arts and cultural heritage projects – ranging from children’s museums, new museums, civics education, public television and radio, the state’s zoos, Minnesota’s own state band, and more. The bills were set aside for possible inclusion in a future omnibus Legacy Bill, to be considered in the coming weeks.

In 2008, Minnesota’s voters passed the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment (Legacy Amendment) to the Minnesota Constitution to: protect drinking water sources; to protect, enhance, and restore wetlands, prairies, forests, and fish, game, and wildlife habitat; to preserve arts and cultural heritage; to support parks and trails; and to protect, enhance, and restore lakes, rivers, streams, and groundwater.

The Legacy Amendment increases the state sales tax by three-eighths of 1% beginning on July 1, 2009 and continuing until 2034. The additional sales tax revenue is distributed into four funds as follows: 33% to the clean water fund; 33% to the outdoor heritage fund; 19.75% to the arts and cultural heritage fund; and 14.25% to the parks and trails fund.