This week the Senate Environment and Energy committee discussed a bill that would protect Minnesota landowners from being forced out of their homes with money meant to fund parks and trails. In 2008, voters approved the Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment, which imposed a 3/8¢ sales tax to protect Minnesota’s outdoor spaces. Bill authors Senator David Senjem and Senator Carla Nelson introduced Senate File 122 to remove the possibility of these funds being used to forcibly acquire property from the very landowners who paid the tax in the first place.
“All this is about, in my mind, is philosophically what is an appropriate use of Legacy money,” Senator Senjem explained.
Senator Michelle Benson, a member of the committee, added, “Voters supported parks and trails. They did not necessarily support eminent domain for those parks and trails. Because as I recall, it was not clearly part of the conversation. There are a great deal of landowners who would have been concerned about voting to have their tax dollars come back to buy their land under eminent domain.”
Several Minnesotans affected by eminent domain testified at the committee in support of the bill. Despite the show of public support, Democrats on the committee blocked the bill from passing the Environment and Energy Committee. However, this issue will likely resurface as the session continues.