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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Leon Lillie (DFL)

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Minnesota House approves Legacy Amendment investments

Saturday, June 19, 2021

SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Today, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed compromise legislation to protect and enhance the outdoors, clean water, arts and cultural heritage, and parks and trails. The bill invests $645.6 million generated by Minnesota’s Legacy Amendment in these four priorities. The investments will benefit people and communities across Minnesota for years to come. 

“Minnesotans care deeply about our state,” said Rep. Leon Lillie (DFL - North St. Paul), chair of the Legacy Finance Committee. “We are proud of our great outdoors, clean water, arts and culture, and parks and trails, and we want to preserve and enhance them for current and future generations. Investing in these priorities will make our state an even better place to live.” 

In 2008, Minnesotans voted to adopt the Legacy Amendment, which increased the state sales tax by three-eighths of one percent. The revenue this constitutional amendment generates is divided between four funds. 66 percent of the revenue is split evenly between the Outdoor Heritage Fund and the Clean Water Fund, 19.75 percent goes to the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, and the Parks and Trails Fund receives 14.25 percent. All of these funds are appropriated every two years except the Outdoor Heritage Fund, which is appropriated annually.  

“Investing in the outdoors, clean water, arts and culture, and parks and trails is an investment in our future,” said House Speaker Melissa Hortman. “For more than a decade, the Legacy Amendment has funded initiatives to benefit people and communities across our entire state, and today's legislation continues building on that success.”

“When Minnesotans voted to create the Legacy Fund in 2008, they voted to make sure all of us – not just the rich and well-connected – have a voice in deciding what the future of our parks, trails, natural resources, and cultural heritage look like,” said Majority Leader Ryan Winkler. “Minnesotans can be proud of this Legacy bill because it benefits Minnesotans of all backgrounds.” 

The Legacy bill invests $128.3 million from the Outdoor Heritage Fund in Minnesota’s prairies; wetlands; forests; and habitat for fish, game, and wildlife. It provides funding for projects such as native prairie protection; wetland restoration; wildlife enhancements; forest fragmentation prevention; shoreline restoration; and strategic land acquisition for weather event mitigation, outdoor recreation, habitat, and job creation. The bill largely follows recommendations offered by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council. 

All Minnesotans deserve access to clean water. The bill appropriates $256.7 million from the Clean Water Fund to protect and restore the state’s lakes, rivers, streams, groundwater, and drinking water sources. It delivers funding to assess and monitor water quality, prevent contamination, improve sewer systems, study agricultural impacts, manage the water supply, assist local governments, and more. 

Minnesota’s rich history and culture should be celebrated and sustained for future generations. The Legacy bill includes $149.7 million to support the arts, arts education, and arts access and to preserve state history and cultural heritage. Nearly half of the funds will go to the Minnesota State Arts Board, which distributes grants to hundreds of artists and organizations each year. The bill also supports the Minnesota Historical Society, libraries, public television and radio, museums, cultural organizations, zoos, county fairs, and Native American language preservation initiatives.  

The bill provides $110.6 million to maintain and improve Minnesota’s parks and trails, which experienced a dramatic increase in visitors over the past year. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will receive $43.8 million for state parks, trails, and recreation areas and $21.9 million for parks and trails in Greater Minnesota. The Metropolitan Council will receive $42.8 million for parks in the metro area. Additional funding will be used to fund restoration and maintenance work and to develop a statewide plan for parks and trails outside the metro. 

The bill language is available here, and a spreadsheet of the included investments can be found here. Video of today’s floor session will be available on House Public Information Services’ YouTube channel.