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Ron Schara: Political process is pitiful
Ron Schara, Star Tribune
June 9, 2004 RON09

A fishing boat is a good place to do some thinking.

Since Minnesota's fishing opener, I've been thinking about . . . how disgusted I am with the Minnesota Legislature.

Once again, lawmakers failed to pass any meaningful natural resource measure, notably a bill to dedicate a portion of sales tax (3/ 16ths or 4/16ths, take your pick) to ensure future funding for resource programs.

I should be old enough to understand political posturing but, frankly, I don't. When do politicians do the right thing for Minnesota? Regardless of political party or who gets the credit?

A few months ago I attended a gala event in St. Paul to kick-off another campaign to pass the 3/ 16ths (or 4/16ths) measure. (If passed, the bill would have allowed Minnesotans in the next general election to vote on a constitutional amendment to dedicate the money to resource work.)

All the political powers were there.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty spoke eloquently about the need for stable funding to improve water quality, to reduce soil erosion, to secure wildlife habitat, to make Minnesota a better place to live for future generations.

Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson mingled with the crowd largely comprised of members of state hunting and angling organizations.

For the first time, the proposed amendment bill had bipartisan support. A Republican, Tom Hackbarth, of Cedar, was pushing the House bill while a DFLer, Dallas Sams, of Staples, was guiding the Senate bill.

Surely with both parties supporting 3/16ths (or 4/ 16ths), the legislative process was a slam dunk. Or so I thought. Silly me.

Once again the political process failed to heed the evidence: Dying lakes. Dirty rivers. Declining farm wildlife. Disappearing wetlands. A sick Mississippi River.

Once again the political process failed to serve the interests of anglers, hunters, birders, hikers, paddlers, campers, cabin owners -- which is just about every Minnesotan.

Now I'm told a special session of the Legislature might be held to do the work the regular session was supposed to do.

There's talk the special session may address spending millions of Minnesota money to build stadiums to play games for teams owned by a millionaire and a billionaire.

To my knowledge, (and I hope I'm wrong), Gov. Pawlenty and Majority Leader Johnson have said nothing about a special session to pass a bill dealing with Minnesota's future natural resources.

That's politics, I guess.

I think I'm gonna puke.

Ron Schara is at

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