prairie grass
Boy crossing rocks at the Headwaters
April 22, 2017
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Legislative Action Alert – Tell Lawmakers to Support Parks and Trails Funding

Lawmakers returned to the Minnesota Capitol this week after their Easter and Passover break and now have a full agenda of work to complete before the constitutional adjournment deadline of May 22. Most policy and finance bills have been passed and are in conference committees to compare the House and Senate version of each bill. Gov. Dayton is also involved in the process as all sides are working to reach an agreement on the final budget.

As we enter the legislative stretch run, Parks & Trails Council will be sending out weekly legislative updates to ensure you know what’s happening at the capitol and can make your voice heard.

Parks & Trails Budget Update:

Tell conferees state parks and trails deserve a funding boost!

Conferees were named this week for the Omnibus Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Bill Conference Committee (HF 888/SF 763 – see here and here for side-by-side comparisons). The omnibus bill is important because it determines how much money is available to operate and maintain state parks and trails for the next two years. The budget bills contain some positives – for example, spending $1 million on local park and trail grants in Greater Minnesota – but overall severely underfunds Minnesota’s state parks and trails. If passed, the House and Senate bills would lead to budget cuts across the state park and trail system. Parks & Trails Council wrote a letter (available here) to the conferees outlining our concerns, and hope you’ll join your voice with ours.


Take ActionNow is the time to tell legislators you’re alarmed to hear they are proposing to cut state park and trail funding when the state has a $1.6 billion surplus. Members of the Omnibus Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Bill Conference Committee need to hear from you:

Also contact key leaders that will need to sign off on the final state park and trail budget, including Gov. Dayton, Speaker Daudt, and Senate Majority Leader Gazelka.

Four points to include in your email:

  • Tell them why parks and trails are important to you. Use personal stories if possible.
  • Tell them to fully fund state parks and trails so you don’t have to experience service reductions at your favorite park and trail this summer.
  • Tell them you support the Parks & Trails Council’s comment letter on HF 888.
  • Tell them why state parks and trails are important for Minnesota. Every year, parks and trails host over 10 million visitors, support local jobs, lower health-care costs, promote tourism, protect our natural resources, and create life-long memories.

 

Other Legislative News:

Quick updates on other issues we’re following at the Capitol:

  • We are very pleased that no policy bills have moved forward that would open state parks to OHVs. We remain vigilant, however, and are working to ensure no harmful last-minute policy provisions are added to existing bills.

 

  • Bonding talks have taken a back seat to crafting a new state budget thus far, but we expect that to change in the coming weeks. The Senate has been working with a bill similar to last year’s bill (SF 210). The House has yet to release their bill.

 

  • Both the House and Senate are finishing their work on the Legacy Appropriation Bill (HF 707; SF 566) and LCCMR Bill (HF 1265; SF 550). Both sets of bills are expected to be passed on their respective floors and be sent to conference committees.