Msg 1 Posted: 01:17 PM 06/12/06 (CST)
This article in the Outrdoor new shows that there is interest from Minnesotans regarding dedicated funding. Now is when we outdoorspeople need to act.The issue is on the table. Please call your local rep.I'll attach a link to take you to the reps.& sen.phone numbers.|
Sviggum, Johnson talk funding during meeting
Wednesday, June 7, 2006 2:48 PM EDT
A couple dozen conservation supporters turned out at the state Republican Convention Saturday in Minneapolis.
By Joe Albert Staff Writer
St. Paul - Dedicated funding proponents aren't giving up hope the issue will appear on the ballot this fall, even though the Legislature failed to pass such a bill during its regular session.
During a meeting Tuesday, House Republicans, led by Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon, made another dedicated funding offer to Senate DFLers. Their proposal would increase taxes by 1/16 of one percent for fish and wildlife habitat, and by 1/16 of one percent for clean water. There would be one question on the ballot in November.
The House left parks and trails and the arts out of its offer. But during the session a key component of House offers was its insistence on two ballot questions.
Senators, who had insisted on one ballot question, said they needed time to mull the offer, and the two sides planned to meet again Thursday.
The meeting was spurred last week, when Dave Zentner and Lance Ness, co-coordinators of the Rally for Ducks, Wetlands and Clean Water, sent letters to Sviggum and Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson, DFL-Willmar, asking the two to meet to try to work out legislation.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty has said he would call a special session to deal with dedicated funding if there were a pre-brokered deal.
'Our hopes are still alive,' Ness said.
In interviews Monday, neither Johnson nor Sviggum knew what to expect at the meeting, which included original bill authors Rep. Tom Hackbarth, R-Cedar, and Sen. Dallas Sams, DFL-Staples. Rep. Dennis Ozment, R-Rosemount; Sen. Dick Cohen, DFL-St. Paul; Sen. Tom Saxhaug, DFL-Grand Rapids; and Rep. Mike Charron, R-Woodbury also attended.
'It's a 50/50 shot at this point,' Sviggum said.
Said Johnson: 'I can't begin to predict (what might happen) I don't want to give anyone false hope.'
The meeting was primarily a chance for leadership and the chief authors to get together and discuss dedicated funding. Until now, that hadn't happened, Johnson said.
Sviggum said he'd planned to meet with Hackbarth and Ozment prior to the meeting to discuss alternative ways to achieve dedicated funding.
Prior to the meeting, Sviggum said the House gave the Senate nearly everything it wanted except a single question.
'We feel we have offered a significant outreach, a significant compromise,' Sviggum said. 'I don't know what more we could offer, other than just saying we will take the Senate bill.'
Johnson said he and the other senators were going into the meeting with 'an open mind,' and that he expected previously offered proposals to be used as a starting point for discussions.
Orange Hats rally
Nearly 30 dedicated funding supporters from the 'Orange Hat Brigade,' which has had a near-constant presence at the Capitol during the dedicated funding push, rallied Saturday outside the Republican convention in Minneapolis.
'It was simply a very, very gentle reminder to the delegates that there was unfinished business to take care of (related to) our natural resources,' Zentner said.
IF IT'S WET...IT'S CATCH'N FISH