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Minnesota House approves Outdoor Heritage Fund investments, extensions of Legacy Amendment funding

Friday, May 15, 2020

SAINT PAUL, Minn. — Today, the Minnesota House of Representatives approved legislation that invests $117.9 million from Minnesota’s Outdoor Heritage Fund and provides extensions to projects whose Legacy Amendment funding is set to expire on June 30. The bill, authored by Rep. Leon Lillie (DFL – North St. Paul), passed with strong bipartisan support.

“Minnesotans care about our state and cherish the things that make it such a special place to live,” said Rep. Lillie, Chair of the House Legacy Finance Division. “Thanks to their support, lots of good work has been done with Legacy Amendment funds. These investments will keep important projects running, secure jobs for Minnesotans working on these initiatives, and preserve our great outdoors for future generations.”

The legislation appropriates $117.9 million from the Outdoor Heritage Fund, the only Legacy Amendment fund that is allocated on an annual basis. The funding will be used to restore, protect, and enhance prairies, forest, wetlands, and habitat for fish, game, and wildlife. The bill provides $35.8 million for prairie projects, $13.7 million for forest projects, $12.6 million for wetland projects, $55.4 million for habitat projects and the Conservation Partners Legacy Grant program, and $360,000 for administration, including contract management services from the Department of Natural Resources and restoration evaluations.

The bill grants two-year extensions to Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund projects approved in 2017 and one-year extensions to Clean Water Fund and Parks and Trails Fund initiatives approved in 2019. The funding for these projects is set to expire on June 30. It amends appropriations for the Rochester Children’s Museum, the Medal of Honor Commemorative Memorial, and a pair of conservation easements and extends funds to assist the State Arts Board administration. In addition, the bill provides greater transparency to members of the public. It includes a requirement to webcast and archive meetings of the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council, a bipartisan group that advises the legislature on Outdoor Heritage Fund expenditures.

In 2008, voters approved the Legacy Amendment, a constitutional amendment that raises sales taxes by three-eighths of one percent. The revenue is divided between four funds that are dedicated to restoring, preserving, and enhancing Minnesota’s natural resources and cultural heritage. Most of the Legacy Amendment funds are allocated biannually and thus were appropriated during the 2019 session. However, the Outdoor Heritage Fund is funded on an annual basis.

A copy of the legislation can be found here. A spreadsheet of the included projects is available here.