Retired Vikings coach Bud Grant, who is following the action — or inaction — of the Senate-House conference committee that is attempting to resolve differences between the two chambers' versions of the Legacy bill, said Sunday that Gov. Mark Dayton told him the House's version of the bill "won't get through the Senate.''
The governor also said, "And if the House bill did pass the Senate, I'd veto it.''
Grant said he had a moment alone with the governor at the recent unveiling of the design of the new Vikings stadium.
"We just happened to have a moment with no one else around, and I said to the governor, 'You know what you said, that you would support the (Lessard-Sams) Legacy Council's positions on habitat funding,' '' Grant said. "The governor looked me right in the eye and said, 'I know, I know. The House bill won't pass the Senate, and if it does I'll veto it.''
Dayton had promised while campaigning for the governor's office he would veto any attempt to usurp the authority of the 12-member Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council. Eight members are citizens; the remainder legislators.
The council for the coming funding year recommended habitat projects totaling nearly $100 million from the Outdoor Heritage Fund benefiting game, fish and wildlife.
But the House Legacy Committee, chaired by Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, rewrote the recommendations significantly, and forwarded a bill that passed the House that changes the council's funding recommendations from annual to biennial, while adding about $6 million in metro parks funding and a land acquisition by the Fond du Lac band of Chippewa.
Kahn chairs the five-member House conference committee that has met with its Senate counterpart chaired by Sen. Dick Cohen, so far without resolution.
Wildlife, conservation and environment groups are watching the issue closely, as are arts and cultural heritage organizations, parks and trails groups and beneficiaries of the state's Clean Water Fund. In total, nearly $300 million in Legacy funds is at stake for the coming year, and unless the Outdoor Heritage Fund showdown is resolved by the time the Legislature adjourns Monday at midnight, the money won't be spent.
"I have no reason to question that the governor won't keep his word,'' Grant said. "Every dealing I've had with him in the past, he's lived up to.''