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Minnesota Senate approves $159 million plan for clean water, parks, heritage projects

The plan greenlights a variety of projects with money from Minnesota's outdoor heritage, clean water, parks and trails and cultural heritage funds.

Clean Water Land & Legacy Amendment
Clean Water Land & Legacy Amendment
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ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Senate on Tuesday, May 17, voted to spend $159 million from the state's Legacy Amendment funds to pay for clean water, park, trail and outdoor heritage projects around the state.

On a 55-9 vote, the chamber approved the slate of projects based on recommendations from the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council. The panel makes annual recommendations to lawmakers about how to spend the state outdoor heritage, clean water, parks and trails, and arts and heritage fund dollars, and this year, members received more than 314 million requests.

Minnesota voters in 2008 approved a constitutional amendment protecting the state's clean drinking water, wildlife, and natural resources and supporting and preserving arts and cultural heritage. In 2009, the state adopted a three-eighths of one percent sales tax to collect money for each of those efforts.

“The citizens of Minnesotan can be so proud of what the Senate has done," said the bill's author, Sen. Carrie Ruud, R-Breezy Point. "... (T)hey’ve held to the integrity of the Legacy process and I can tell you that’s been one of the greatest honors of my career to be in charge of the Legacy Amendment and to make sure that we send the money the way that our citizens intended it."

State Sen. Carrie Ruud, R-Breezy Point.jpg
State Sen. Carrie Ruud, R-Breezy Point

The Minnesota House passed the bill last month but will have to vote to agree to changes made by the Minnesota Senate. From there, it could move to Gov. Tim Walz's desk for his signature.

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Lawmakers on the floor spoke in support of the Legacy Amendment and they said the Legislature had a key role in deciding which proposals get funded.

“Sometimes people out there don’t know what we do here and every time they ask me what I’ve done for our community I point to Legacy, the clean water, land and Legacy logo on display at parks or on library books,” said Sen. Foung Hawj, DFL-St. Paul.

The chamber rejected a proposed amendment that would've sent out Clean Water Fund dollars to study microplastics in drinking water. Ruud said the Clean Water Council could bring forward that request next year if it felt that was a worthwhile project.

Clean Water Land & Legacy Amendment
Clean Water Land & Legacy Amendment

Follow Dana Ferguson on Twitter  @bydanaferguson , call 651-290-0707 or email  dferguson@forumcomm.com.

Dana Ferguson is a Minnesota Capitol Correspondent for Forum News Service. Ferguson has covered state government and political stories since she joined the news service in 2018, reporting on the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the divided Statehouse and the 2020 election.
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