The 2018 legislative session continues to creep towards its conclusion. Last week marked the third and final committee deadline, and all the major policy and finance committees have now released, amended and passed their omnibus bills. Those bills now have only one or two more stops before they’re sent to the House and Senate floors for votes and, eventually, conference committees to reconcile any differences. Legislators have until May 21 to complete their work.
Both the House and Senate released their omnibus environment and natural resources bills this week. As we feared, the House bill (HF 3502) includes a provision that would allow all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) to use Hayes Lake State Park in northeastern Minnesota. The language in HF 3502 is slightly different than the proposals heard earlier in session: HF 3502 doesn’t include Lake Vermilion/Soudan Underground State Park, and it stipulates that ATVs are only allowed in the campground and on routes where motorized vehicles have previously been allowed. Despite these changes, HF 3502 is still contrary to existing laws protecting Minnesota State Parks, creates safety risks and sets a dangerous precedent for State Park planning and policy moving forward. In contrast to HF 3502, the Senate omnibus bill (SF 3141) does not change existing laws on ATVs in State Parks.
Both the omnibus bills passed their respective policy and finance committees and are moving to the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees. As the bills move through the legislative process there is still a risk they’ll be amended further, either to add the ATV provision to the Senate bill and/or reinserting language allowing ATVs in Lake Vermilion/Soudan Underground State Park.
We’ll continue to monitor both bills and advocate for strong protections for Minnesota’s State Parks.
Each project was laid over for possible inclusion in the bonding bill.
The House and Senate omnibus environment and natural resources bills (HF 3502 & SF 3141) will be heard this week in House Ways and Means and Senate Finance, respectively. The House and Senate Capital Investment committees will continue to hear bonding bills, though we expect the heavy lifting on the bonding bill to remain on hold while lawmakers work through the major policy and tax bills. But as always at the Minnesota Capitol, things can change in a hurry. So stay tuned.