Legislative Update

The Legislature must adjourn on Monday, but there is still much work to be done. There are a number of things that the GMPT is continuing to monitor at the Legislature with respect to parks and trails:

LCCMR bill: The Legislative Citizens-Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR) recommended that $2 million be dedicated to local parks and trails grant programs, as well as grants to several GMPT members. This bill, HF 3352/SF 2934, has been slowly working its way through the Legislature. It passed out of Senate Finance Committee yesterday, and it is scheduled for a hearing today in the House Ways & Means Committee.

There appears to be a wrinkle in the Senate version of the bill that could affect the final outcome. The Senate added an amendment that would create “LCCMR Revenue Bonds.” The debt service on these bonds would be financed through funds flowing into the Environmental Trust Fund. The Senate further designated that the money from these bonds would be spent on wastewater projects. We are waiting to see if the House proposes a similar program.

Both the House and Senate need to pass the bill. If they adopt different versions, a conference committee will be needed to work out the differences. Time is running out, so this delay could jeopardize final passage of the bill. Since this bill poses the best chance for local parks and trails grant programs to receive funding this session, it is important that the Legislature come to an agreement and pass the bill. Please contact your legislators and ask them to pass the LCCMR Bill, HF 3352/SF 2934, before the Legislature adjourns. You can find your legislators’ contact info here.

Bonding bill: We are disappointed, but not surprised, that funding for the local parks and trails grant programs was not included in either the House or Senate versions of the bonding bill. Both bodies set an $825 million cap on their bills, which means many worthy projects and programs had to be excluded. In assembling the bill, projects were selected to garner votes from individual legislators. It is difficult to get funding for a grant program because it typically does not “buy” a vote like a specific project can. With the $2 million for local parks and trails grants already in the LCCMR bill, there was little motivation to add additional grant funding into the bonding bill.

At this point, it is unclear whether a bonding bill will pass this session. The House passed its bill on Monday, but the Senate version was voted down yesterday when it failed to garner the supermajority votes needed to pass. Legislative leaders are now trying to determine whether to make another attempt at passing the bill.

Supplemental finance bill: This large bill, also referred to as the “omnibus omnibus bill,” is the compilation of multiple finance and policy bills. If there was going to be bad policy language on parks and trails, it would likely end up here. Thankfully, there is not any language that we are concerned about.

If you have any questions regarding activities at the Legislature, please contact our lobbyist Elizabeth Wefel at eawefel@flaherty-hood.com.