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Session approaches conclusion

By Dan Sparks

State Senator, District 27

The Minnesota State Constitution sets May 20th as the date that the legislature must adjourn by and is the deadline for us to pass a balanced state budget. This is our biggest responsibility at the legislature, and the Senate, House, and Governor Walz are busy meeting and negotiating to find compromise to make sure we get this work done.

District 27 Sen. Dan Sparks, DFL-Austin

My colleagues in the Senate and House are busy meeting to hammer out differences and find common ground and will continue to do so. That doesn’t mean other work stops. We continue to meet on the floor to pass other legislation that is vital to funding and supporting our priorities. Just this week we passed our Legacy Bill.

This bill provides approximately $629 million in funding from the four funds established by the “Legacy Amendment” passed in 2008. These four funds are the Outdoor Heritage Fund, the Clean Water Fund, the Parks and Trails Fund, and the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. These funds are valuable to a whole list of needs. They are used to protect drinking water sources; to protect, enhance, and restore wetlands, prairies, forests, and fish, game, and wildlife habitat; to preserve arts and cultural heritage; to support parks and trails; and to protect, enhance, and restore lakes, rivers, streams, and groundwater.

These projects are vital for Minnesota, and the Legacy Amendment continues to pay dividends for our state. We value the importance of the natural opportunities we have, and this funding ensures future generations can enjoy this natural bounty. Citizens also play an important role in deciding how these funds are distributed, through their advisory roles on the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council and the Clean Water Council. You can also see where these funds have been used by going to this website: www.legacy.mn.gov/.

Citizen leadership is a proud tradition in Minnesota and was on display in another way this week. We held a Joint Regent Convention between the House and the Senate to select new members for the Board of Regents for the University of Minnesota. Regents are responsible to help oversee and guide the University of Minnesota, to ensure it’s fulfilling its mission.

It’s a high honor to serve as a Regent, and many people apply for the opportunity, interview with legislators, and make their case for this responsibility. I want to applaud the four new members joining the board: Janie Mayeron of Minneapolis representing the 5th congressional district; Mike Kenyanya of Duluth for a student at-large seat; and Mary Davenport of Mankato and Kao Ly Her of Maplewood for two at-large seats.

As the constitutional adjournment date approaches, we must put the needs of everyday Minnesotans first. We should search for common ground and a compromise that balances the needs our state faces and prepares for the future. Though things are busy, my constituents come first. Please reach out to my office if you have questions, comments, or concerns about action at the Capitol, or if you need help addressing any other issues.