Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Recent News
Home / Energy / Environment / PILT proposal in Legacy bill gets axed
A priority for local governments and House Environment Chairman Denny McNamara regarding Legacy funding for habitat conservation is getting tossed around in a legislative tempest.

PILT proposal in Legacy bill gets axed

Peter Bartz-Gallagher)

Rep. Denny McNamara (Staff Photo: Peter Bartz-Gallagher)

A priority for local governments and House Environment Chairman Denny McNamara regarding Legacy funding for habitat conservation is getting tossed around in a legislative tempest.

McNamara, R-Hastings, earlier in the session proposed to create a trust fund into which 20 percent of the proceeds of any future land sales paid for with Legacy funds would be deposited. The money would be used to make payments in lieu of taxation (PILT) to compensate local governments for loss of tax base. The trust fund would also pay for upkeep measures such as maintaining access roads to property bought with Legacy money.

DFLers and conservative Republicans on Tuesday formed an odd alliance in the House Taxes Committee and stripped the PILT funding out of the Legacy bill. The difficulties for the proposal are complicated further by opposition in the Senate from Environment and Natural Resources Chairman Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria.

The PILT issue in the Taxes Committee unfolded in dramatic fashion. Rep. Ann Lenczewski, DFL-Bloomington, offered an amendment to remove the PILT provision. The issue blew up when Rep. Tom Rukavina, DFL-Virginia, successfully altered Lenczewski’s amendment to put a moratorium on land acquisitions using Legacy money outside the seven-county Twin Cities metropolitan area. One lobbyist noted that the Rukavina amendment passed with the help of strange bedfellows.

“It appeared to be an instance where Democrats were throwing a wrench into the works and the no-net-gain legislators were exercising their influence,” the lobbyist said.

No-net-gain refers to legislation that some Republicans support that would prevent the state from increasing the number of acres it already owns.

While the committee was in recess, Taxes Chairman Greg Davids, R-Preston, rounded up the support needed to kill Rukavina’s amendment. When Taxes resumed early Tuesday evening, Lenczewski withdrew her amendment and reintroduced it without the Rukavina moratorium. The amendment passed and the PILT provision was out. (The trust fund remained in the bill as well as the provisions related to funding for future upkeep.) The action happened quickly just as Rukavina entered the hearing room. Rukavina realized the game was up, at least for the moment, and later asked Davids if he had been “hosed.”

To which Davids replied: “Pretty much.”

The issue of PILT is important for local governments, particularly in northern Minnesota, that are concerned about loss of tax base as Legacy dollars take more land into public possession for conservation.

Associations representing townships and counties are now floating a revised PILT proposal. They are trying to allay concerns from outdoors groups that the PILT payments would violate the intent of the Legacy amendment that voters approved in the 2008 general election.

Meanwhile, the Legacy bill passed the Taxes Committee on a voice vote and was referred to the Ways and Means Committee. In the Senate the bill on Monday passed the Finance Committee and was sent to the floor.

For more about the Legacy amendment debate in the House and Senate, please see Thursday’s edition of Capitol Report.

About Charley Shaw

Leave a Reply