There's support for Twin Cities habitat projects

  • Article by: MIKE FREIBERG
  • Updated: May 22, 2013 - 9:26 PM
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Rarely seen, a boreal owl.

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Counterpoint

Dennis Anderson’s May 22 column makes two key mischaracterizations in arguing that Gov. Mark Dayton should veto portions of House File 1183, the Legacy bill (“Which governor will it be?”).

First, Anderson understates the nature and level of support for the portion of the bill that funds habitat projects located in metro-area parkland. The 15 Metro Habitat projects were carefully developed to adhere to constitutional requirements and compiled into a detailed 150-page proposal.

Unfortunately, the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council (LSOHC) reviewed only a five-page summary, and some members gave the proposal an artificially low score to drive down its chances of success.

In response to this, Rep. Anna Wills, R-Apple Valley, and I introduced a bill to fund these projects from the Outdoor Heritage Fund. This bill had broad bipartisan support, including the maximum allowable number of co-authors, 35, consisting of 16 Republicans and 19 Democrats.

The bill had four hearings and was incorporated into H.F. 1183, which received bipartisan support on the floors of both the House and Senate.

Second, Anderson mischaracterizes Dayton’s prior statements, flatly stating that he somehow made a “campaign promise” to veto these projects. Dayton’s exact words were that he would “veto any legislative attempts to usurp the authority of the Lessard-Sams Council.”

H.F. 1183 does not usurp the authority of the LSOHC. It makes no changes to the council’s membership or authority and funds every recommendation of the LSOHC.

I fail to see how funding every project recommended by the council would “send a knife into the heart of the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council,” as Anderson dramatically claims.

Previous Legislatures have made changes to the LSOHC recommendation, and the governor signed them into law. All H.F. 1183 does is add two critical projects using unspent funds.

I hope Gov. Dayton respects the will of the Legislature and signs the entire Legacy bill into law.

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State Rep. Mike Freiberg is a DFL legislator from Golden Valley.

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