Legislative wrap up --We really got screwed for funding

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Legislative wrap up --We really got screwed for funding

Postby h2ofwlr » Thu May 20, 2004 9:17 am

This is why most politicains are lower than a used car salesman or a IRS auditor in my opinion.---Just and bunch of con artists that ripped off us sportsmens again



Posted on Wed, May. 19, 2004

Political gamesmanship dooms conservation measures


Some of the most significant conservation proposals in decades went down the tubes when the Minnesota legislative session came to its acrimonious ending Sunday.

It's possible that Gov. Tim Pawlenty will call lawmakers back for a special session after a cooling-off period, but there's no guarantee the conservation programs, which would have benefited tens of thousands of acres, will be on the agenda.

The biggest losses were in the bill dedicating money for the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, which would have paid farmers to retire 120,000 acres of marginal land. The program, which would be in line for millions in matching grants from the federal government, was in the same bonding bill with a proposal to fund thousands of acres of new Wildlife Management Areas.

Pawlenty originally asked for $12 million for WMAs, which provide critical hunting areas for small game, but the proposal had been trimmed in the Legislature.

The bill asking voters to dedicate a portion of the sales tax to natural resources also died in the waning hours of the legislative session. The proposed constitutional amendment had become a popular poster child for other causes, with lawmakers adding funding for the arts and museums. At one point, a lawmaker wanted to add an amendment banning gay marriage, but the natural resources bill sponsor, Dallas Sams, DFL-Staples, pulled his proposal. The delay cost the proposal precious days of debate.

There was plenty of finger pointing on the so-called "3/16ths of 1 percent bill" that had ballooned to 5/16ths of 1 percent. Democrats blamed Republicans for attempting to tack the gay marriage amendment, while Republicans blamed Democrats for weighing it down with arts and culture funding. In the waning days of the session, Republicans were attempting to trim the bill down to its original one-eighth of 1 percent of the sales tax that focused solely on natural resources.

"When all is said and done, I think both parties were responsible for the situation we're in,'' said Mark LaBarbera, president of the Minnesota Outdoor Heritage Alliance.

Last summer, lawmakers lined up at the MOHA outdoors summit, agreeing that dedicated funding for natural resources was important. "It was the No. 1 issue on the agenda,'' LaBarbera said.

And despite a big news conference early the session, in which big-name Republicans and Democrats stood up and praised the idea, the initiative fell because of bitter partisan politics.

Perhaps the biggest irony is that Republicans who supported dedicated funding for natural resources were the same lawmakers who used the bill as a means of trying to force Democrats to vote on the gay marriage proposal.

The bill to create a mourning dove season, which likely will be signed by Pawlenty soon, is at best a symbolic victory for hunters. Although mourning dove hunting will attract 30,000 to 50,000 hunters, the real victory would have been money for habitat.

The mourning dove proposal was part of a game and fish bill that has other changes for hunters. Once the governor signs the bill, they'll become law. Here's a summary:

The duck season will open at 9 a.m. next year, rather than the traditional noon opener. The Department of Natural Resources already was planning to move the opening shooting hours, so this only formalized the change.

Turkey hunters now can have another person assist in calling but not shooting. The proposal states that an adult can help another adult turkey hunters, but not for a fee (which eliminate guiding), and the helping person cannot possess a gun.

The DNR is authorized to create a quality deer management zone in northwestern Minnesota and a youth deer hunt in the same region. The quality-deer hunt, which would implement antler restrictions, is only a proposal, and the DNR is expected to hold public hearings on the issue later this year.

Nonresidents now can trap in Minnesota, but only on land they own.

Deer hunters will be allowed to party hunt with an all-season deer tag.

Youth deer hunters 16 and 17 years old are eligible for discounted youth deer licenses and for taking antlerless deer without a permit.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Chris Niskanen can be reached at cniskanen@pioneerpress.com or 651-228-5524.


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Postby Chris_Hustad » Mon May 24, 2004 3:05 pm

How about this article a day later:

Dennis Anderson: Failed resources bill flawed from the start
Dennis Anderson, Star Tribune
May 21, 2004ANDY21



Victims of the Legislature's recent non-session included a bill offering Minnesotans a chance to decide in November whether they wanted to dedicate a portion of the sales tax to natural resource conservation.

A long shot for passage, the bill's demise nevertheless was a body blow, and perhaps a death blow, to those aware enough, and concerned enough, to see the Minnesota of yesteryear -- rich with clean water and healthy landscapes -- slipping away.

The temptation now that the dedicated tax idea has failed in multiple legislative sessions is to give up. After all, if so few people, or at least so few legislators, care about the quality of the state their children will inherit, what's the point?

Fair enough.

But a better, and more promising, option for conservationists would be to carefully assess what happened to the dedicated tax conservation bill in the past session and to work toward writing a better proposal to be considered when legislators gather next year in St. Paul.

No one can predict, after all, the political climate that will prevail a year from now, just as no one could have predicted a year ago that after more than 50 years of inaction on bills establishing a mourning dove season in Minnesota, legislators would finally pass one.

Still, and this is the hard truth that needs to be faced, the proposal to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot in Minnesota this fall to aid conservation was deeply flawed.

Depending on which plan was being discussed, anywhere from one-eighth to one-quarter of 1 percent of the sales tax would have been assigned to improve conservation practices statewide.

Oddly, however, none of the money that would have benefited fish and wildlife would have gone to the Department of Natural Resources. At least not directly.

Why not? Because supporters of the bill say they don't trust the DNR.

Perhaps.

Or perhaps some proponents of the dedicated tax bill want to get their hands on the money and the authority that would go with it.

Either way, the funds, perhaps as much as $80 million, would be entrusted to a citizens council appointed, essentially, by legislators and the governor.

Among bad ideas, this is a doozy.

The committee, employing its own staff, would be charged with evaluating proposals from -- among other entities -- sportsmen's club, conservation groups and the DNR. Just how the committee ultimately would be held accountable, and its funds overseen by acceptable public policies, is unknown.

Additionally, and not least, who exactly would follow up to see that XYZ Sportsmen's Club actually planted the trees they said they planted, and did it properly, is also unknown.

The fear among some observers is that, over time, no one would follow up, and thus, inevitably, would be laid the foundation for a taxpayer backlash.

More important, under such a scheme, prospects for the improved conservation the state so badly needs would be dashed.

Alternatively, Minnesota conservationists should offer two bills to legislators next session.

One would remove the DNR from direct authority of the governor, placing it instead, as in Missouri, under a small citizens group.

The other bill would fund the newly reorganized agency with a dedicated percentage of the state sales tax.

These moves not only would accomplish what proponents of the dedicated tax idea say they want (intensified conservation in Minnesota), they also would free the DNR from the shackles long imposed on it by Minnesota governors and legislators -- absent which, prospects for improved conservation in Minnesota are scant.

After all, the problem with Minnesota conservation is not the DNR.

It's the fact that for generations, the DNR has been hamstrung by the state's politicians in its efforts to manage not only wildlife and wild lands, but the people who use -- and abuse -- those resources.

Some news here:

Minnesota politicians keep the DNR (and other state conservation agencies) in check not by accident, but by design.

The point has been, and continues to be, to protect the state's agribusiness and development interests.

Until that changes, not much else will.

Dennis Anderson is at danderson@startribune.com.
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Postby h2ofwlr » Mon May 31, 2004 1:23 pm

I missed that article some how Chris.

Politics is about power-and who controls it. And the legislature wants to retain their power instead of letting a citizens comm decide. :cry:
The Audacity of Bull Crap.
"Typical: Gun-loving, bitter bible-thumping white person" Barack Obama.
Hey I resemble that comment!!! Those are FIGHTING WORDS!!!
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