A much-anticipated floor amendment was withdrawn after a lengthy discussion on the Senate floor this afternoon.
Sen. Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, proposed to redirect $4.2 million that is recommended for land acquisition. Bakk wanted to use the money for labor-intensive purposes like repairing state park buildings.
“Not that land acquisitions aren’t important,” Bakk said. “But in a year like this we ought to put land acquisition off for a year or two and put Minnesotans back to work.”
The land acquisitions have been recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR).
Rep. Tom Rukavina, DFL-Virginia, successfully added the amendment to the LCCMR bill in the House. If the House and Senate bills are different, a conference committee will need to sort out the differences.
Senate Environment and Natural Resources Policy Committee Chairman Satveer Chaudhary, DFL-Fridley, opposed Bakk’s amendment.
“The environment does create jobs. … You cannot restore a parcel unless you acquire it first,” Chaudhary said.
Chaudhary said the state can buy land at a good value for taxpayers at the present moment. Some properties are so-called “in-holdings” — privately owned land within the boundaries of state-owned parcels — that will only be on the market for a limited time.
“This land might not be available again, ever,” Chaudhary said.
Bakk, however, said he’s concerned the state doesn’t have the resources to maintain the parks and trails that it already owns.