Gov. Dayton has signed the Legacy bill, but vetoed specific appropriations to metro parks and invasive species.
His letter to Rep. Paul Thissen, Speaker of the House, is below. In it, Dayton reveals that to get Legacy out of a House-Senate conference committee, he agreed with Majority Leader Sen. Tom Bakk and Thissen to sign the bill with the two controversial items intact.
Virtually all environment, conservation and wildlife groups opposed the metro parks and AIS funding because they were inserted in the Legacy bill by the House, with particular support of House Legacy Chair Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, and, either implicitly or explicitly, by Thissen.
But a firestorm of calls and letters to the governor's office and residence in the past few days apparently assured Dayton the right thing to do would be to line-item veto the two items. Otherwise, the integrity of the Outdoor Heritage Fund of the Legacy Act would be called into question, because the process of securing money from it without appealing to the Lessard-Sams Council, and instead going directly to legislators, would be apparent.
Undoubtedly, had the governor supported the two items in the Legacy bill it would have cost him in his expected bid for re-election. Nonetheless, it's likely he would have signed the bill as agreed to with Bakk and Thissen in order to get the bill passed, had he not made a contradictory promise — as he alludes to — to hunters and anglers and other state outdoors enthusiasts.
That promise said he would veto any attempt to "usurp the authority of the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council'' — a promise that was recorded on video at Game Fair during Dayton's campaign and widely distributed in recent days.
Dayton also underscores in his letter to Thissen the rift that has grown this session between the House Legacy Committee (and by implication, Kahn) and outdoor interests.
Interesting going forward will be whether Thissen replaces Kahn as committee chair — because the governor is correct, future Legacy bills ultimately might not be passed by the Legislature if relations aren't repaired.