As Minnesota's 2000 legislative session heads into the home stretch there are a number of bills in the Legislature that, if passed, would affect how we hunt, fish and use our other outdoors resources.
What follows is a summary of some of the more important pieces of legislation currently pending, including bill sponsors, a short description of what the bill would accomplish if passed and its current status.
Hunting, fishing license fee increase
Bill sponsors: Sen. Jane Krentz (D-May Township) and Rep. Mark Holsten (R-Stillwater)
Summary: Resident small game licenses would increase to $12 for people under age 65 and to $73 for non-residents. Firearms deer licenses would increase to $25 for residents and to $125 for non-residents. Individual resident fishing licenses would increase to $16, resident sporting licenses to $23 and non-resident fish house licenses to $33.
The last time hunting license fees were increased was 1991. Fishing license fees have not been increased since 1997.
Status: Passed unanimously in the Senate Environment and Budget Division on Feb. 23. An amendment that would redirect 50 percent of the monies raised by the in-lieu-of-tax on lottery proceeds from the general fund to the game and fish fund was added in the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee. From there it went to the tax committee, where a hearing has yet to be scheduled.
The bill was heard in the House on Feb. 7 and was sent to the Environment and Natural Resources Finance committee, where it is awaiting further action.
Permanent funding for DNR
Bill sponsors: Sen. Bob Lessard (D-Intl. Falls) and Rep. Mark Holsten (R-Stillwater)
Summary: Would dedicate 3/16ths of one percent of the state sales tax to the DNR for fish and wildlife management and enforcement. The proposal is referred to as the "Missouri Plan" because it is patterned after the funding system used in Missouri. This tax would raise about $100 million annually, 45 percent of which would go directly into the Game and Fish fund. This funding would require a constitutional amendment and would have to be voted on in the general election.
Status: The bill received unanimous endorsement by the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday and was sent to the Government Operations Committee. If approved by the legislature and Gov. Ventura a constitutional amendment would be placed on the ballot for a vote in the general election in November.
Enhance wildlife management areas
Bill sponsor: Rep. John Tuma (R-Northfield) and Sen. Jerry Janezich (D-Chisholm)
Summary: Referred to as Legacy 2000, this bill would provide $195 million to enhance wildlife management and recreation areas, improve wastewater treatment facilities and reduce water pollution. Most of the money would come from the sale of bonds, but some could come from the general fund.
Status: Approved Feb. 18 by the House Environment and Natural Resources Finance Committee. Now moves to the House Capital Investment Committee, where it will be considered for inclusion in the committee's omnibus bonding bill.
The Senate's Environment and Agriculture Budget Division heard the bill on Tuesday. It was held over for consideration.
Lifetime hunting, fishing licenses
Sponsor: Sen. Pat Pariseau (R-Farmington) and Rep. Larry Howes (R-Hackensack)
Summary: Would permit the sale of lifetime hunting and fishing licenses in Minnesota. Prices have yet to be determined. A $4 surcharge on each license would go to fund fish and wildlife management programs.
Status: The bill was passed Wednesday by the Senate Environment and Agriculture Budget Division and was sent to the Government and Finance Committee. This is the last stop before it reaches the Senate floor for vote.
Lighted fishing lures
Sponsor: Rep. Chris Gerlach (R-Apple Valley)
Summary: Minnesotans can manufacture and sell lighted fishing lures but, under state law, cannot use them while fishing. This bill would allow state anglers to use lighted lures.
Status: Approved Feb. 22 by House Environment and Natural Resources Policy Committee. The bill now moves to the House floor.
Expanding experimental waters, regulating fishing contests
Bill sponsor: Rep. Rod Skoe (D-Clearbrook)
Summary: Would remove the limit on the number of waters on which the DNR can establish special regulations to accomplish a fisheries objective. Currently that limit is 100 lakes and 25 streams. The bill also would regulate how fishing contests are conducted within Minnesota. One provision would require that no contests could take place on at least two weekends per month on waters 55,000 acres or less.
Status: The bill passed through the Environment and Natural Resources Policy Committee and received its second reading in the House on Monday, Feb. 28.
DNR enforcement forfeiture
Bill sponsor: Rep. Bill Haas (R-Champlin)
Summary: Would provide DNR officers with more authority to get firearms out of the hands of convicted felons, provide a means to dispose of property seized by officers investigating game and fish violations and allow individuals to issue citations to persons who trespass on their property via snowmobile, ATV or other recreational vehicles within the seven-county metropolitan area.
Status: The bill was sent to the Environment and Natural Resources Finance committee on Feb. 21. It was heard on Friday morning and was expected to pass to the House floor for a vote.
Extending Paul Bunyan State Trail 2000
Summary: $1.4 million is included in the governor's 2000 bonding proposal to complete an 18-mile segment through Chippewa National Forest that would link Paul Bunyan and Heartland State trails. Construction plans are being drawn and finalized. Construction could begin as early as this summer. Eventually the trail will extend for 110 miles.
Adding acreage to state parks
Bill sponsor: Rep. Howard Swenson (R-Nicollet)
Summary: Would add acreage to Charles A. Lindbergh, Flandrau, Myre-Big Island, Lac Qui Parle, Minneopa and Sibley state parks and delete other acreage from Lac Qui Parle State Park and Lake Bemidji State Park. Also would rename Lac Qui Parle State Park to Lac Qui Parle State Recreation Area.
Status: The bill was sent to the House Environment and Natural Resources Finance committee on Feb. 14.
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