ST. PAUL (AP) -- A bill that would let voters decide whether part of the state sales tax should go toward conservation and environmental programs stumbled Wednesday in a House Committee.
The bill would have generated about $115 million a year for parks, wildlife, trails and zoos.
Sponsors backed off after Rep. Phyllis Kahn introduced an amendment in the State Government Finance Committee that would have let voters also decide on dedicating the same amount of money for education.
"The point is at least let's give voters a choice of what they think is the most important thing to dedicate funds to," the Minneapolis DFLer said.
A group of lawmakers had revived their push for the so-called 3/16ths bill after all of the gubernatorial candidates said they would support the measure. The legislation would dedicate 3/16ths of 1 percent of the state sales tax for conservation programs.
It would appear as a constitutional amendment on the 2002 ballot.
The bill's author, Rep. Mark Holsten, pulled the bill before the committee had a chance to vote on Kahn's amendment.
"They're trying to make a political position. They'll be damned if they're going to give Republicans a bill that would be the greatest thing for the environment in the last 20 years," the Stillwater Republican said.
Holsten declared the bill dead for the year.
House Speaker Steve Sviggum, however, said the measure still had a chance to pass the House. The Kenyon Republican said he'll consider a variety of parliamentary moves to move the bill forward.
Currently, about $25 million in state lottery proceeds goes to the DNR for similar purposes.
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