April 13, 2016

Legislative Update: Mid-point of the 2016 legislative session

We’ve reached the mid-point of the 2016 legislative session. Now that the second committee deadline has past, the bulk of legislator’s time going forward will be spent focusing on the major pieces of finance legislation. The major tasks still on the table include the supplemental budget, transportation bill, tax bill, and bonding bill. House Republicans released their budget targets last week, and Senate democrats are expected to do likewise next week.

In park and trail-related news:

  • Last week the House Ways and Means committee amended and passed the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund appropriations bill (HF 2993). The bill funds several important park and trail projects, including the Mesabi Trail, the Tower Historic Harbor Trail, and the Otter Tail River Trail in the city of Fergus Falls, but unfortunately doesn’t include the $2 million for state park and trail acquisition that was recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources. The House bill is awaiting action on the House floor. The Senate has not yet taken action on the bill.
  • The House Environment & Natural Resources committee is scheduled to hear the natural resources supplemental budget bill (HF 3890) on Thursday, April 14. Whereas the governor’s budget recommendation included a $5.3 million in one-time funding increase for state park and trail maintenance, the House’s supplemental budget includes only a $2.3 million increase. Parks & Trails Council supports the full level of funding as recommended by the governor.
  • Yesterday, the Senate Capital Investment committee held an informational hearing on trails. Parks & Trails Council, along with the Minnesota DNR, Greater Minnesota Parks and Trails, St. Louis and Lake Counties Railroad Authority, and Metropolitan Regional Parks and Trails all gave presentations on trail priorities for 2016.

We’ll continue to keep you up-to-date as the 2016 session continues to evolve. As always, you can contact us with any questions.

About Andrew Oftedal