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?
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.
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 email@example.com