Outdoor Heritage Fund | VideoJennifer Joas | 3/11/2013
Legislators have a shared concern for conservation. But, what they can`t agree on is a resolution to protect and preserve those outdoor spaces. One of the first concerns some Senators had with the bill was it taking four percent of the oil and gas taxes and putting them into a grand fund. The fund could get to $100 million per year.
"If we take $200 million a biennium out of this budget, just for this one particular issue, where does that leave Highway 85 funding where we get people killed every single day?" said Senator Bill Bowman (R) from Bowman.
Another concern in the resolution was that the money could be used to purchase land, putting it in direct competition with farmers.
"We have all kinds of corporate farming laws. We don`t want farmers to get too big and take over. But yet we are willing to make a state agency one of the largest in the state that has the right to do that. So it just seems like the wrong thing to do," said Senator Donald Schaible (R) from Mott.
Supporters of the bill argued the resolution was good because it would allow the issue to be put to a public vote during the next general election.
"I think it should be up to the people of our state to determine what our landscape looks like for the next 25 plus years. They have a drive to do so, which is apparent when over 80 people come to testify on a bill on a moment`s notice," said Senator Tyler Axness (D) from Fargo.
In the end, Senators decided to not support an Outdoor Heritage Fund. The resolution failed 36 to 10.
The idea of creating an Outdoor Heritage Fund was brought up during last year`s election. But, it did not make it to the ballot because some of the signatures were forged.