Legislative Update: Session gets off to a fast start
We’re only a week into the 2016 session, but already lawmakers are moving forward on a number of items that affect Minnesota’s parks and trails. Of particular note:
On Tuesday, Gov. Dayton announced his supplemental state budget proposal. The governor’s proposal includes a $3 million general fund increase for state parks and trails for fiscal year 2017, a 12% increase from the budget passed last year. If passed, the governor’s budget would be another great step towards funding state parks and trails at the level they deserve. The legislature is expected to propose and pass their own supplementary budget during the coming weeks.
The appropriations bill for the Natural Resources Trust Fund (HF 2993) is scheduled to be heard by the House Environment and Natural Resourcescommittee on Thursday, March 17. In its current form, the bill would fund $2,455,000 for state park and state trail land acquisition, $1,200,000 for continued development of the Mesabi Regional Trail, $679,000 for a nature trail and kayak route in Tower, and $500,000 for river protection and trail development in Fergus Falls.
Additionally, the first week of session saw a flurry of bill introductions, many of which would fund projects included on our 2016 legislative agenda. We’ll keep you up-to-date as these bills move through the legislative process. You can keep track of all these bills with our bill tracker.