Lawmakers are heading into the final days of the 2018 legislative session, and the weekend is sure to be pressure-packed as all the major issues remain unresolved. Negotiations are ongoing to find compromises on a host of issues, including taxes, bonding, and a supplemental budget and policy omnibus bill. Although the constitutionally-mandated adjournment date is Monday, May 21, Sunday is the last day the legislature can pass bills. We expect legislators will be working many late nights in order to reach a consensus before the clock strikes midnight.
Below we’ve summarized where parks and trails are sitting in the final days of session. We’ll send out another update early next week once we’ve had a chance to digest what’s sure to be a hectic weekend.
Last week we issued yet another call-to-action for our supporters to tell lawmakers that all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) don’t belong in Minnesota State Parks. Your voices were heard! On Monday of this week, the conference committee tasked with reconciling the Omnibus Supplemental Budget Bill (HF 4099 / SF 3656) decided against a controversial provision that would have allowed ATVs to use the campground and access routes at Hayes Lake State Park. Instead, a compromise was adopted that calls for the DNR to study and recommend ways to expand access to, and recreational opportunities within, Hayes Lake State Park. We are very pleased that ATVs were removed from the Hayes Lake State Park provision. However, if this bill becomes law, the DNR will have to address the issue in the report it’s required to submit to the legislature next session. We fully expect the powerful motorized recreation lobby will continue pushing hard to open state parks up to ATVs, and we’ll need to remain steadfast standing up for Minnesota’s special places.
We’ll continue to watch this issue closely, both in the short-term during the final days of the legislative session, and in the long-term as the DNR works towards a recommendation.
All session there has been a big difference between Gov. Dayton’s $1.5 billion bonding proposal and the House and Senate’s $825 million bonding bill proposals. On Monday of this week, the House passed their bonding bill (HF 4404) by a 84-39 vote. The Senate bonding bill (SF 4013), however, didn’t have supermajority support and failed by a 34-33 vote on Wednesday. Negotiations are still continuing, however, and a bonding agreement may still be reached this weekend.
For a list of park and trail projects that would be funded in the bonding bills, please refer to our last update and/or follow our bill tracker.
The appropriations bill for the Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund continues to move through both the House (HF 3352) and Senate (SF 2934). Both bills contain all the park and trail projects that were recommended by the Legislative-Citizens Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR), but have also been subject to controversy due to amendments that open up the Trust Fund to fund waste-water treatment facilities. See our bill tracker for a full listing of park and trail projects that would be funded in the current bill.
Both the House and Senate bills are expected to be voted on this weekend.
Lawmakers will be working through the weekend, and Parks & Trails Council will be there every step of the way. The timing may prove too short to solve the many unresolved issues, but lawmakers also have a knack for striking deals at the last minute. So stay tuned.