Representative Steve Green (R-Fosston) is an enrolled member of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe, or Gaa-waabaabiganikaag Anishinaabeg, but he's having nothing to do with a proposal the nation submitted to the Outdoor Heritage Fund.
The council that reviews and approves proposals included the nation's request in its recommendations to the Minnesota House Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee today, but an amendment Green submitted removing the tribe's request passed on a roll call vote.
DFL Representative David Dill joined the Republican majority on the committee in voting down the proposal.
Here'svideo the discussion via Youtube:
The adoption of the Green Amendment--taken over the objection of the tribal natural resources manager and its lobbyist, former state representative and Champlin Republican Bill Haas--may have dire consequences, Session Daily reporter Jonathan Mohr writes in Amendment could jeopardize $100 million Outdoor Heritage Fund bill:
The House Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee approved legislation Wednesday that would appropriate just over $100 million from the Outdoor Heritage Fund for 34 proposed projects around the state.
But the committee also approved an amendment that at least one member believes could jeopardize the entire bill.
Sponsored by Rep. Denny McNamara (R-Hastings), HF181 passed 12-9 on a partisan roll-call vote after an amendment offered by Rep. Steve Green (R-Fosston) was approved that would eliminate funding for a project that would have provided almost $2.19 million for the White Earth Nation to acquire nearly 2,000 acres of land in northern Minnesota.
The White Earth Nation seeks to acquire land along the Wild Rice River and its tributaries for wildlife habitat protection. It said the matter was of some urgency because the current owner of the property Potlach Corp., a lumber company based in Washington state, is actively marketing it.
Green opposed the acquisition of the land because it would then no longer be subject to local property taxes in an area that he said was already “tax poor” and needed the revenue.
“This (amendment) is to address problems in Clearwater County,” Green said. “This affects our schools, our roads, everything up there, our property taxes, our rent. It’s just a big chunk of land.”
However, Rep. John Persell (DFL-Bemidji) took issue with the amendment, telling the committee he had been part of a restoration project to clean up a body of water in the area polluted by a chicken farm in the 1960s and 70s.
“There’s several million dollars of rice growing up there,” Persell said. “My take on this is White Earth is trying to protect the resource. … You have to be White Earth to rice on this lake, so it’s theirs to protect for themselves and the economic benefit that those couple million pounds of rice brings about.”
His concerns were echoed by Rep. Frank Hornstein (DFL-Mpls) who said the amendment “could potentially imperil the entire bill.” Hornstein noted Gov. Mark Dayton’s 2013 line-item veto of Outdoor Heritage Fund money for several metro area projects that had not been approved by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council.
Despite the objections, the amendment was approved on a 13-8 roll call vote.
Watch the video of the discussion above. Frankly, Bluestem sides with the band and the council on this one.
Photo: A canoe and wild rice on White Earth Reservation.
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