In crafting its recommendations to the 2014 Legislature, the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council is internally divided on more than $30 million in requests to combat aquatic invasive species in Minnesota waters.
Gov. Mark Dayton doesn’t enjoy raising anyone’s taxes. The first-term Democratic governor, reflecting on his now-complete third legislative session, knows the headlines have mostly been about the $2 billion in tax increases that he and the Democrats who control the Legislature enacted this year.
In an apparent reversal from the negotiated deal on the Legacy bill earlier this week, Gov. Mark Dayton has line-item vetoed two projects that the Legislature appropriated from the Outdoor Heritage Fund. The projects were controversial because neither was recommended by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council.
It was four minutes to midnight on the final day of session when the Minnesota Senate passed the omnibus tax bill that wrapped up the Legislature’s work on the state’s $38 billion budget for the 2014-15 biennium. The down-to-the-wire finish followed a contentious final two weeks of negotiations between House, Senate and the governor’s office over the terms of final budget and policy deals.[...]
Differences that had festered all session long on the Legacy dedicated funding bill for environmental and cultural projects were settled early in the morning on the last day of session. The House and Senate passed the compromise, which now awaits approval by Gov. Mark Dayton.
The Senate Finance Committee has passed its Legacy bill to the floor. Sportsmen and conservation groups favor the Senate's bill because it is limited to the recommendations of the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council. The House adds projects that weren't vetted by the council.
The Minnesota House is getting pushback as it seeks to reset the calendar for appropriating Legacy dollars for hunting and fishing habitat.
A new report from the legislative auditor will likely spur lawmakers to re-examine the money they’re giving to state agencies and nonprofits to conserve outdoor habitat.
Even though Minnesota faces a $1.1 billion budget deficit, there are still some much-coveted pots of money up for grabs in 2013, thanks to the Legacy amendment’s provisions for spending on outdoors and cultural projects.
The path through any budget session leads to a negotiating table at which the governor and legislative leaders work out the most politically palatable taxing and spending deal they can muster. But the budget is never the only game in town. Before the session endgame gets played out, a network of committees will play host to various and sundry dramas involving policy issues before state government.[...]
While legislative leaders haggled in private regarding the 2012 session’s marquee legislation, rank-and-file legislators spent long hours on the floors of the House and Senate processing members’ pet bills.
The House and Senate appear to be heading for a conference committee battle over the marquee land-acquisition proposal in this year’s Legacy bill.
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