House and Senate staff have worked Sunday — despite the postponement of conferee meetings — and have reached near agreement on the clean water and parks and trails portions of the Legacy Amendment bill now in conference committee, according to sources familiar with the negotiations.
Basically, the bill being debated between House and Senate conferees has four portions: arts, clean water, parks and trails, and game, fish and wildlife habitat.
It's the last portion that has caused, and continues to cause, the most consternation between the House and Senate. The House has even tried to remove retired Sen. Bob Lessard's name from the Lessard Outdoor Heritage Council, a 12-member group developed by the Legislature last year to recommend spending on about $70 million in fish, game and wildlife habitat funds.
Some of the language in that portion of the bill remains a problem, and will have to be hammered out when the conference committee is finally re-convened. But most of the wrinkles are believed to have been ironed out, and now — as much as anything — the arts portion is a problem.
Another problem is the so-called Conservation Partners program of the Lessard recommendations. This is an important part of the overall Lessard council recommendations, in that it allows for small grants to sportsmen's and other, similar clubs statewide.
Sportsmen backers say they won't deal this component away in negotiations. The House now wants to set the Conservation Partners program aside, perhaps for a year or so of study. Sen. Satveer Chaudhary, DFL-Coon Rapids, said just before midnight Sunday that that won't happen — that there would be a "revolt'' among sportsmen.
12:11 a.m. Monday and still no word about a meeting.