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House passes lottery funds bill

Published (3/18/2010)
By Sue Hegarty
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Rep. Jean Wagenius runs through the contents of the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources funding bill during the March 15 House floor session. (Photo by Andrew VonBank)The House passed the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources funding bill 91-39 after more than three hours of debate March 15.

Sponsored by Rep. Jean Wagenius (DFL-Mpls), HF2624 appropriates $26 million this biennium, primarily from the state lottery’s Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund. The bill now goes to the Senate, where Sen. Ellen Anderson (DFL-St. Paul) is the sponsor.

More than 240 proposals were submitted to the commission. Of those, 85 applicants were granted a 30-minute presentation before the commission. Forty-eight projects were chosen to be funded.

Among those are:

• $640,000 to the University of Minnesota for the study of sources of endocrine disruptors and pharmaceuticals entering surface waters in the Zumbro River Watershed;

• $636,000 to the University of Minnesota to assess the potential impacts of emerald ash borer on ash trees;

• $594,000 to the Department of Health for an agreement with St. Cloud State University to study septic system discharge of pharmaceutical compounds; and

• $425,000 for Ducks Unlimited.

An amendment successfully offered on the House floor by Rep. Tom Rukavina (DFL-Virginia) removed thousands of dollars for proposed land acquisitions, and cut partial funding to some projects and redirected the money toward state park improvements. For example, a $915,000 appropriation to the Trust for Public Land was eliminated and funding for scientific and natural areas was reduced by $363,900. The amendment also deleted $2.2 million for state park acquisition and replaced it with $4.2 million to make improvements to all existing state parks.

Rukavina said it was time to stop buying more property when a recent legislative audit revealed that the Department of Natural Resources can’t afford to maintain property it already owns. The amendment does not affect the potential purchase of land for Lake Vermilion State Park.

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